Memorable Events

Bratenahl was the site if the first heavier-than-air flight in Cleveland

Captain Mattery Flies at Country Club
Captain Mattery Flies at Country Club
Captain William A. Mattery
Captain William A. Mattery
The following is reprinted from The Cleveland Plain Dealer Wednesday, June 29, 1910


Aviator Makes First Flight in Cleveland, Circling Country Club Grounds

Will Not Make Extensive Trip Until Wind Dies Down



Wife of Capt. Mattery Tells Curious Throng How Aeroplane Acts When in Operation – J. H. Wade, Jr. and Others Interested in Aeronautics, Visit Scent of Experiment – Hundreds Who Flocked to Tent in Morning Are Disappointed.


At dusk last evening Capt. William Mattery cranked the gasoline engine on his little aeroplane, climbed in between the uprights and rose into the air. In the gathering dark he circled the Country Club golf links twice at a height varying from five to ten feet. Then an essential wire grew slack, he stopped the engine, and the machine sank smoothly to the ground.

Though the flight was unannounced hundreds of people were on the field, among them Albert Y. Gowen of the Builders Supply Do., Charles Ricks of the G. C. Kuhlman Car Do., and some of the other men at whose bidding Capt. Mattery has come. It was 7:30 when the flight began.

The aviator says last night’s flight. The first-ever made in or near Cleveland, has demonstrated that all he needs for good work with his “demoiselle” machine is a fair day and a calm one.

Hundreds Are Disappointed

Under the impression that he was going to fly at dawn, two hundred people gathered on the links after sunrise yesterday, but Mattery was busy at the machine in the tent and did not try to ascend. He was straightening wires and testing things all day; the Clevelanders who are about to build aeroplanes of their own and who will take pointers from him. Many dropped in every now and then. Mattery says he will be tinkering pretty much of today. He doesn’t anticipate a real flight until the breeze off the lake dies down an hour or so before sunset this evening, but there will be experimental ascents through the morning and afternoon.

J. H. Wade, Jr., whose pastime is ballooning, was one of the regiment of visitors yesterday. With Beebe Hasbrouck, broker, Wade went over the machine while Capt. Mattery’s lieutenant explained.

Mrs. Mattery stayed close to the machine through the day; when her husband found himself called away, she stayed to guard his treasure. And Mrs. Mattery knows more about aeroplanes than the average citizen does about a bicycle; there is no mystery in flying for her. When a visitor who wants to learn asks how may revolutions the propeller makes a minute, she says without hesitating “more than 2,500.” She explains how the aviator steers with his hands and balances the wings with his back, which is strapped to a lever. She says the public hasn’t learned the difference between an aeronaut and an aviator, and goes into etymology to prove it.

Mrs. Mattery Explains Flying

“An aeronaut flies on an airship, which hangs from a gas bag. The whole ship is lighter than air,” say Mrs. Mattery; “an aviator flies in a heavier-than-air machine. Avis, bird – which is heavier than air, do you see?”

Capt. Mattery is only twenty-six. Born in Germany, he has spent his life there and in the United States. Mrs. Mattery is only twenty-four, a Chicago girl, daughter of E. E. Peters, one of the owners of Riverview park there and for years an amusement manager. Mrs. Mattery is with her husband on all his travels; sometimes her parents come, too. Mrs. Peters is here no to see today’s flight.

Mrs. Mattery often takes trips through the air. She says there’s fun riding in an aeroplane, but she can’t stand riding in an elevator.

“Elevator seems tame compared to an aeroplane, does it?” she said yesterday. “Well, I get out of an elevator as soon as I can. I can’t catch my breath in them. But I could stay up in an aeroplane for hours.”

“There’s one trouble about an aeroplane – you have to keep watching the engine, and there’s no room to move. Between an aeroplane and a balloon, I’ll take a balloon every time – just swing through the clouds in a basket; you don’t know you’re moving; you can eat, or read, or play cards and feel at home in a balloon; but there’s no comfort in an aeroplane.”

There’s another objection to aeroplane trips says Mrs. Mattery. “It spoils the complexion. The soot and the smoke comes down from the overhead engine,” she says,” and when you get to the ground your skin is black and rough and leathery.”

She is a fatalist.

“People often ask me whether I’m not nervous when my husband flies. I tell them ‘No,’ but the truth is I used to be, but I’ve learned to control myself. I just reason that if a person’s time has come you can’t save yourself – there’s as much danger on the street. My husband is brave, and he is wiry – he has fallen more than once, and though he has been badly battered he always comes out luckily. So I reason that a person is safe till the time comes. I forced myself to that; it’s the only way I can keep from being nervous and endure it.”

Capt. Mattery’s machine is about twenty-five feet from tip to tip of the wings, and about the same length. Its wings are of yellow silk, stitched tight on a hollow metal frame. The wings and the tail are adjusted by slender wires. It is one of the smallest aeroplanes in the worlh.