Flight Logbooks Old and New

This story is based on a post written by Wright State University student and Special Collections & Archives researcher Brody Beaver.

Not much has changed in the flight logbook since 1912. If you want proof, visit the Wright State University Special Collections and Archives and look at the 1912 logbook owned by Charles Wald. Throughout the logbook, read through his interactions with Orville Wright, aviation pioneers, and his flight history.

“For over a century, military and civilian pilots from around the world have been using logbooks to record their flights. Wald’s 1912 logbook reminds everyone, some aspects of aviation have slightly changed over the course of 115 years. Today’s logbook is more in-depth, but without it, pilots would be unable to confirm the amount of flight hours and training obtained. Flight logbooks also help pilots reminisce cherished memories, remembering the day aviation began, earning their pilots license, and adventuring to new destinations.” (Brody Beaver)

Charles Wald was an early American aviator trained at the Wright School of Aviation in Dayton, Ohio. In 1905, while stationed with the U.S. Custom Service in the Philippines, he learned about Wilbur and Orville Wright’s achievements in flying. In 1906 he returned to the United States and visited the Wrights with the desire to learn to fly. The Wright brothers advised him to first learn engineering, so he began taking night courses at Pratt Institute in New York following his daytime work at the New York Custom House.

In 1911 Charles Wald secured employment with the Wright Company in Dayton. Following a brief return to the New York Custom House, he began flight training at Huffman Prairie Flying Field (Simms Station) on April 12, 1912 under the instruction of A.L. Welsh. His primary training was considered complete on April 23 with fourteen flights and a total of two hours and forty-six minutes in the air. During this time he also worked in the shop on engines and repairs. Wald returned to employment with the Wright Company in June following the tragic death of A.L. Welsh in a plane crash. He made his first solo flight on June 27. By August 6 he flew seventy-four additional flights, accompanied most of the time by a fellow student, William Kabitzki.

In 1912, the Wright Company established a school for water-based flying, known as the Wright air ferry, at the Glenwood Country Club in Glen Head, Long Island, New York. Charles Wald was put in charge of the operation, which was intended to direct the attention of wealthy yachtsman to the potential sport of water flying and to provide flying lessons. The school used a Wright Model B machine with floats attached to the landing skids. Wald’s first flight with the hydroaeroplane occurred on September 9. On September 21, he flew nine miles across Long Island Sound from Glenwood Landing to New Rochelle Harbor and was greeted by enthusiastic onlookers. The Glen Head operation again garnered public attention on October 10 when a man who had fallen overboard a boat was rescued from the water by the hydroaeorplane. During the school’s existence at Glen Head, the hydroaeroplane carried several passengers and newspaper cargo, but there is no record of any flying lessons being given. This may be why the operation lasted only one season.

Charles Wald formed the short-lived Manhattan Aeroplane Company in 1913 with Frank Willson and a Mr. Reiland. The company produced two or three airplanes, one of which was a flying boat. During World War I, Wald headed the inspection department at the Curtiss factory in Buffalo. He also managed the U.S. Navy seaplane racing team that won the Schneider Trophy in England in 1923. He retired from his aviation work with the naval service in 1947. (from the Charles Wald Collections Guide)