Max Autrey, 1912, and (possibly) a flying machine

When I was doing the research for last week’s post on Max Autrey I discovered that we had a small collection, just a single box, of materials from Lynette Autrey. We can now get things from the Library Service Center on Tuesdays and Thursdays so I requested it and it came in the other day. There’s not much there to speak of except for one thing–a scrapbook, containing mostly photographs taken by the Autrey family in 1912. They are on the whole very good pictures, clear and fairly well composed, of the sights they saw on a trip to Philadelphia, New York, Boston, Key West, and Havana (along with several pages of Galveston, Seabrook, and Texas City images that seem to have been taken at roughly the same time period).  I thought at first they might be from Herbert and Lynette’s honeymoon but they didn’t marry until 1915. In any event I haven’t come across anything as wonderful as this scrapbook in quite a while. I’ll share more of it next week but for today, we have here at right young Max Autrey, and a handsome lad he was:

Well, what the heck, I can’t resist a couple more. Here are two images from the scrapbook, undated but labeled “the troops at Texas City.” It’s the second one that blew my mind. It looks like an airplane but doesn’t look like an airplane at the same time. Do you think that could actually fly? Not for long, I’d guess.

Bonus: Progress on the new module of the Library Service Center. We’re so grateful for this.

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15 Responses to Max Autrey, 1912, and (possibly) a flying machine

  1. Marty Merritt (Hanszen '84/85) says:

    I believe that is a Wright Flyer Model D from 1912, which was tested by the Army. See one here:

    Probably contemporaneous with the photo of Army tents.

  2. Richard Schafer says:

    That looks like the Wright brother’s Model B, which they produced from 1910-1914. The military did buy some of them.

  3. almadenmike says:

    The old aircraft looks like a Wright Brothers “Model B” .

    This website shows a photo of one at Fort Sam Houston (near San Antonio) that “was the first aircraft the US Army used for actual military operations.”

  4. Melissa Kean says:

    Where does the pilot sit??

  5. Marty Merritt (Hanszen '84/85) says:

    It could be a Model B. In 1913 two Army lieutenants made a nonstop flight from Texas City to Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, which was the longest nonstop flight at that time.

  6. I think it is the Model D, which the Wrights developed for the military. Model B was their first military model, and looked virtually identical to the Model D. Model B was produced in 1910, and the Wrights sold about 100 of them to the military, then Model D was an upgrade in preparation for WW I.

    • almadenmike says:

      From the photo Marty posted in the first comment, the Model D looks to have a higher clearance over the ground than the model in the photo above.

      The text also said: “Built for an Army contract, the Model D was similar to Model R Roadster. However, instead of the V-8 motor, the army plane had the 6-60 motor. The Model D could fly 66.9 mph and climb 525 feet per minute, but its excessive landing speed discouraged the Army from ordering more.”

  7. Steve Lukingbeal, Hanszen ‘76 says:

    Melissa, that air field in Texas City is a big deal. That essentially is where the US Air Force began. Many of the pilots shot down in Europe trained there. Numerous streets in Houston are named after them such as Bissonnet and Waugh. We have several relatives from the Illinois National Guard who were based there who very much enjoyed their marches and visits to Galveston and all the amentities there. You should take a trip down to Texas City and see all the historical markers associated with the camp.

  8. Michael Bludworth says:

    Jackpot! You’re looking at the Signal Corps installation at Texas City in 1913! That’s a Wright Model C Flyer!

  9. Michael Bludworth says:

    Upon further review, I don’t think that’s a C model, but more like a B (as previously stated). Since Texas City only used the Wright C I now doubt the location is correct. However, much of the incidental material does imply Texas City.

  10. Lou Ann Montana says:

    Melissa, what is the Library Service Center? Please tell us more!

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