Rhode Island

Roy Knabenshue
Pilots the first Dirigible

Roy Knabenshue was a builder and exhibitor of dirigibles of his own design. His outstanding contributions to aviation include making balloon flights and being the first to pilot of a steerable balloon. He also piloted the first successful American dirigible. In addition, he also became well-known by building U.S. Army observation balloons during World War I.

Roy turned to ballooning to supplement his income because wages for a telephone man were not enough to support his large family. Because of his family's standing in the community and their embarrassment with his ballooning venture, he changed his name to "Professor Don Carlos" during the early days of his flying.

His first successful dirigible with constructed with an engine designed and built by Glenn Curtiss, in 1904. The second was built in August of 1905. He flew it over New York's Central Park, and stopped all traffic with the unusual site.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roy Knabenshue

Roy Knabenshue aka
"Professor Don Carlos"

Dirigible

Roy Knabenshue aka
"Professor Don Carlos"

 

 


Knabenshue Piloted the Powered
Controlled Dirigible

 

Aviation Firsts Logo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 1907 Knabenshue's third dirigible was completed and flown in exhibitions at Providence, Rhode Island; Hartford, Connecticut; Worchester, Massachusetts and London, Ontario. In the latter part of the year Knabenshue began building a three-man airship designed to carry passengers, and also for exhibition work.

By late 1909, public interest began to turn to airplanes and the Wright Brothers decided to put on flight exhibitions. They employed Knabenshue to plan exhibitions for the Wright Fliers being trained at a flying school in Montgomery, Alabama opened in March 1910, now known as Maxwell Field.

Knabenshue arranged for the first exhibition at the Indianapolis Speedway in June 1910. In July, the team performed at Atlantic City and in August the team made exhibition flights along the Chicago Lake Front. In October the team also participated in the Belmont Park International Air Meet.