Crowds of 300,000 flocked to the Lake Erie shore. At lookouts from Euclid Beach Park in Cleveland to Cedar Point in Sandusky, they craned their necks for a glimpse of the spindly biplane flown by the aviator Glenn Curtiss.
Curtiss, a mechanic and daring pilot from New York, was one of the most famous flyers of the day, outshining Ohio’s trailblazing but secretive Wright brothers. He had arrived in Cleveland to set speed and altitude records. Curtiss was supposed to fly from Euclid Beach to Cedar Point and back, but whipping winds postponed the flight for one day. The waiting crowd’s hopes crashed when no “air car,” as it was dubbed by the newspapers, appeared.
Finally, on Aug. 31, Curtiss zoomed skyward from Euclid Beach. Buzzing into Cedar Point at 2:20 p.m., Curtiss guided his craft smoothly to the beach. He missed the speed and altitude records, but the two-leg flight was the longest over water at the time.
The crowd of 20,000 were “so stirred that hysterical women fought to press Curtiss’ hand and a dozen shouting men hoisted him to their shoulders and bore him in triumph from the shore,” The Plain Dealer reported. But the steel-nerved pilot had other priorities. “I must telephone my wife,” Curtiss said. He flew back to meet her in Cleveland the next day.