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Omaha daily bee. (Omaha [Neb.]) 187?-1922, July 21, 1912, MAGAZINE, Image 19

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The Omaha SundayiBee Magazine Page
Copjrltfht. 1913, by Amr1cn-EatmiBr. Great Britain Rthts Rtitrvtd.
R
ou; Harriet Quimby, Most
Daring of Airwomen-Apparently
Nothing But Frivolous
Femininity, Full of Odd
Superstitions Was
Flipped Out of Her
Flying Machine by
the Hand From the
Clouds Which She
Had Always Feared f
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Harriet V1 1
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Quimby, t ' 'V
Aviation ' I
Costume, L L
As She 1 I I
Appeared j jf I
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H "The Giant Cloud Finger, H I ".V v .' fl
J I Tired nf Plavino-wlffi Hr I 1 f I I
M fie i ".ill
Her Last
Fatal
Flight
"The Giant Cloud Finger,
Tired of Playing with Her
f Machine, Gave Its Tail That
Final, Fatal Flip."
I
X lg a heavy numan ion ini.
exacted by the sport of aviation,
hut in the long list of such sac
rifices of life none so affects the
popular Imagination as that of Har
riet Quimby the most daring of
airwomen, yet so dainty, pretty and
essentially feminine that she .came
to be known as the "Dresden China
Avlatrlce." In keeping with her outward as
pect of frivolous femininity, too,
were her odd and' peculiarly fem
inine superstitions. Always when
in the air, though she handled her
powerful craft with all the cool skill
and courage of any of her masculine
rivals, she was obsessed by the notion
of a mischievously malicious giant
hand stretched forth from the clouds
behind her, snapping its great fin
gers perilously near her outstretched
planes, or, with the tip of one ol
those Immense digits flipping up
ward the tail of her craft as though
for the pleasure of seeing It dive
headlong to the earth below.
At last that giant cloud-finger suc
ceeded In Its experiment Miss
Qulmby's 100-horsepower Blerlot
machine suddenly stood on Its head,
up a mile in the sky above the city
of Boston, pitching the daring
woman and her male passenger In
to the shallow waters of Dorchester
Bay. Her odd superstition was
realized; "Miss Dresden China," as
she haid half-expected to happen,
was broken at last ;
Harriet Quimby will be forever
famous as the first airwoman to fly
across the English channel. When
she was about to leave New York
last March, bent on accomplishing
that feat which the most rugged
and xperienced of man-flyers at
tacked with trepidation her friends
sought to dissuade her on the
grounds of her frail physique and
her generally feminine disadvan
tages. "Why," said one, "your appro
priate environment is the blue and
goM walla of a satin-upholstered
boudoir in the Louis XV. style.
You're not a medieval German Ama
ron by Plloty; you're a Watteau
Shepheidness. Why, everybody is
calling you the 'Dresden China
Avlatrlce.'"
"Oh, I don't like that," laughed
Miss Quimby. "Dresden China is
so easily broken! But I'm going,
just the same."
During that perilous channel pas
sage she could almost feel the pres
ence of that giant-cloud hand flip
ping its fingers playfully about her
rudder like a cat playing with a
mouse. Long before that, soon af
ter she had secured her pilot's license
and was venturing Into the skies
alone she said to one of her in
timate friends;
"Frequently when I have been
flying it has seemed to be as if a
huge cloud-hand were mischievously
rocking my slender little monoplane.
It seemed, with a playful finger, to
be lifting the tail of my machine
higher than it should be.
I actually had to fight
with my levers to keep
the machine from stand
ing on its nose particu
larly when coming down
through the lower clouds.
That giant hand grows
more and real the longer
I fly. Whenever I get
among the clouds I can
feel it playing with the
tail of my machirie."
Curiously, nothing so
well as her own belief In
this supernatural agency
explains the mystery of
that fatal plunge Into
Dorchester Bay. Her in
etructors, M. Andre Hau
pert, whose training en
abled her to gain her pi
lot's license, has made
this significant statement:
"It was no lack on the
part of Miss Quimby that
caused the drop of wom
an, man and machine to
the earth. There was
nothing the matter with
her machine. It was in
perfect working trim. But,
so far as we can tell,
something happened which
destroyed its equipoise,
and instantly she waa at
the mercy of the air."
"Something happened."
As Miss Quimby has said,
that "something" almost
happened whenever she
was among the clouds.
It was hard to keep that
maliciously playful giant
finger from flipping the
tail of her machine too
high for her safety and
now, at last it gave a flip
with force enough to
make resistance useless!
It is not difficult for an Imagina
tive person to conceive how an ob
session like this could, finally, so
operate on the mind and nerves of
Its victim as to produce reactions
of the muscles used in guiding the
machine that would cause a catas
trophe Identical wltli the one .so
dreaded by Miss Quimby. Believing
that the gigantic cloud-finger was
tired of playing with her machine,
and had given its tall a final, fatal
flip, her hands on the guiding levers
unconsciously reversed their usual
procedure.
Miss Quimby was a story writer,
a poet, a dramatist in fact, a ,
dreamer with a mind extraordinarily
active on its imaginative side. Her
belief in that cloud-band was no
stranger than the beliefs of the an
cient Greeks in the immortal beings
which controlled all the manifesta
tions of nature.
When Icarus flew high above the
Mediterranean with wings made of
wax be knew that it was in the pow
er of Phoebus-Apollo, rolling the sun
across the heavens in his chariot, to
bring disaster upon him by melting
his wax wings, which Is exactly what
the sun did, and the ancient Greek
mythological aeroplanist took bis
fatal plunge Into the sea.
To personify mysterious forces far
above the earth, picturing In her
mind cloud forces concentrated In
an intelligent, all-powerful hand, wan
a not unnatural obsession In one of
Miss Qulmby's temperament and
' 4 f i
15
.fa
m
0
"NSi . A"
-f. ' A
Miss Harriet Quimby in a Favorite Conventional Costume, Which Shows Her to Have Been
Apart From Her Career As An Airwoman Essentially Feminine, Almost Frivolously So.
mental constitution, considering her
hazardous performances In cloud
land. There was another superstition of
Miss Qulmby's that had a certato.
bearing on the catastrophe of her
career. 8he wore a number of Ori
ental decorations that, with her com
plexion, made her resemblance to
fabled queens of Egypt more than
merely fanciful. She bad, In partic
ular, a string of weirdly colored
stones that she obtained from a Cairo
muleteer. Unless these were around
her neck she would not fly. Her own
narrative of how she got them is il
lustrative of the woman behind the
girl. .
"I had noticed a most peculiar
combination of stones which were
around the mule's temples as purt
of his head-stall. A number of queer
little Oriental gods and goddesses
were suspended irregularly from this
string of stones; A close examination
of them showed that they were all
really the same god or goddess, I do
not know which, and that Ganesha
was the name. I think he is a Hindu
god of Luck.
"I ottered the boy a guinea for the
string of stones, but he wanted
three times that much. We finally
compromised for two guineas. And
my luck changed that very day. I
have never been so happy as since I
bought those little charms."
But Ganesha was to play a part In
Miss Qulmby's life that, all unfor-
seea was tragio almost beyond words.
In the office of a London newspaper
which bad financed her flight across
the Channel, she met with, a large
replica of Ganesha. The strange
Idol, with Its elephant head, three
legs, aud three arms, all on a human
body, had been sent to the news
paper office to be destroyed. The
newspaper ' had collected from Its
readers a number of uulucky talis
mans, . and Ganesha was among
them.
Miss Quimby, seeing that he
matched the smaller idols which bad
hung on her Cairo mule's headstall,
begged so bard for Ganesha that the
figure was reluctantly turned over
to her. And here la Miss Qulmby's
version of what happened.
"Any one would suppose that after
I bad rescued Ganesha from such an
untimely end as burning he would
be grateful and would behave like
his little children did. But almost
Immediately I began to have bad -luck."
When Miss Quimby returned to New
York after her triumphal crosslug
of the Channel, Ganesha kept ou "
misbehaving ,and she decided finally
that she would guillotine him. So
sh had his bead cut ott and put the
he d in a desk drawer, while she
used the body of the idol for a
paper weight. - The day that Miss
Quimby was killed in Boston a
friend of hers was near her desk
aud saw Ganesha, with his cut-off
head resting again on his shoulders
and still grinning horribly. Miss
Quimby had replaced the head the
day she went to Boston.
It was Miss Qulmby's oft repeated
statement that "happy people all be
long to the same generation," and
she did everything she could to
make people happy. She was as
cheerful as could be, and in a letter
which she posted on her way to tho
aerodrome the day . she met her
death she laughingly quotes Omar
to show how little she fears that any
thing will happen to her and yet
how she refuses to take herself ser
iously. The quotation, which evi
dently answered some entreaty to be
careful, told how improbable it was
"That Youth's sweet-scented manu
script should close."
Miss Qulmby's ambition was to
earn enough money before she was
thirty-five so that she might retire
from daily . work to write one big
book or one big play. " The. resi
dents of Hardelot, the fashionable
French resort on the English Chan
nel, had presented her with a bun
galow and a large piece of ground
(or . her cross-channel flight , She
wanted to go there in the Summer,
when she retired from busluess af
fairs, and to live her Winters in
southern California, where - she
owned an orange ranch.
But the cloud-band was too strong
for her. It lifted the tail of her
monoplane once too often. . ' v.
"T f
J
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