Celebration Honors Wisconsin Aviation Innovator

BELOIT, Wis. --

An historic flight 100 years ago in Beloit is the center of celebration.

Arthur Pratt Warner brought aviation to Wisconsin, beginning with a few hops in a Beloit farm field.

On Wednesday morning, history was brought to life.

Morgan Elementary School was Morgan Farm, and its students' playground was the site of something extraordinary.

"Today we're celebrating Arthur Warner's aviation accomplishments, a celebration that began right here in Beloit, 100 years ago," said Rose Dorsey, of the Wisconsin Aviation Hall of Fame.

On Nov. 4, 1909, Arthur "AP" Warner and his Curtiss-designed airplane made Wisconsin history by flying for the first time.

On Wednesday, the Wisconsin Air National Guard F-16s roared overhead, celebrating modern aviation.

On the ground, an ultrasport aircraft recreated Warner's original flight, making several passes, just barely leaving the ground.

"Our plane is very similar to the Curtiss Pusher. Same configuration, about the same weight, same horsepower," said Bob Bauer, who piloted the reenactment.

"That first day, we flew six, seven, eight times -- just short hops, about a quarter-mile long. That was enough to get us in to the age of aviation here in Wisconsin," said Michael Goc, of the Wisconsin Aviation Hall of Fame.

Morgan Elementary School's field offers just 450 feet of space, but it was enough to take the young and old alike back to a time when flying was an adventure.

"It's the simplicity of the plane. Things can be simple and flown simple. You don't need the high technology to fly," said Bob Rauscher, of Janesville

The celebration is rejuvenating Wisconsin's roots in flight and inspiring those who hear Warner's story.

"It is a wonderful story. We don't think of Wisconsin as a place with a great aviation connection, but of course it does. We do have a wonderful history," said Goc.

Flying was far from Warner's only accomplishment.

He's credited with inventing the magnetic speedometer and the first electric brakes for cars, and he did it all after his grandfather told him there was nothing left to invent.

The statewide celebration started in May and will conclude on Saturday, Nov. 7 at Beloit College. Dr. Tom Crouch, senior curator at the National Air and Space Museum at the Smithsonian will speak at 3 p.m. at Eaton Chapel on the Beloit College campus.

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