Interview with Lincoln Beachey

Exclusive Interview with the Birdman

        Keep your seats, friends; we are going to have a heart to heart
talk with Lincoln Beachey, the greatest aviator the world has ever known.
        Beachey sat alone in his mother's modest home, and it was with
considerable shyness that we entered the presence of this great man. We had
heard so much about him, about his wonderful flying, his daring feats, his
death-defying stunts in the air, that we almost imagined he would be far
from an ordinary man. But he wasn't. He was just a plain, everyday sort of
man, of common tastes, and thinks he is no better than anyone else. And he
smokes 5 cent cigars which retail at only one jitney apiece! We could
hardly believe it, but he showed us the brand. They were--well, no free
advertising for any cigar firm, but we assure you they were 5-cent cigars.
        Beachey is short of stature, but by no means bad looking, and with
a smile and a hearty handshake that would put an office-seeking candidate
in the shade.
        He extended his hand and we grasped it. "I'm certainly glad to meet
you," he said. "Won't you sit down?"
        We accepted the invitation and proceeded to look the great man
over. He smiled at our apparent display of awe.
        "Now I want you to feel right at home," said Beachey. "Here, have a
smoke and tell me just what you want. I'll be glad to give you any
information you may desire."
        We accepted the smoke with considerable alacrity. Cigars are
somewhat of a luxury to a poor newspaper man, who, as a general rule, can
smoke nothing better than a pipe, and we were about to light it when we
were struck with a bright idea. At times an idea really does strike us, and
this was one of those times. Why smoke this cigar? Had it not been
presented to us by a truly great man? Therefore, was it not a fitting
keepsake? Indeed it was, and so we stored it carefully in an outside
pocket, and it will repose for years to come with other relics we have
gathered in past years.
        Finally we mustered up sufficient courage to speak. "Well, Mr.
Beachey, our readers would like to know how it feels to soar up into the
        "All I can say is that I like it," said Beachey.
        "What! Do you mean to say, Mr. Beachey, that there is any pleasure
in such a display of recklessness?" We could hardly believe our ears.
        Again that broad smile flitted across his features, and somehow we
felt more at ease. "Call it what you like, my friend, but don't call it
recklessness. Yes, indeed I like it. I am always careful. I always
thoroughly overhaul my machine before every flight, examine every wire,
test the engine, and get everything into shape so that there is practically
no danger. No, I am not reckless, as many people believe."
        We took his word for it. "How does it feel, Mr Beachey, to fly
thousands of feet in the air in this manner?"
        "Well, it is a pleasing sensation that I cannot describe. You know
when a man's in love? A feeling something like that."
        "Is it that pleasing?" we exclaimed. And right then and there we
decided that flying must be all right.
        "You see, there is always a chance that you might fall; you are
always in some danger, just the same as when you are in love. That's why I
make the comparison. Many an aviator has taken a hard fall, never to
recover-and so has many a lover.
        "A great scientist once told me that I had the bird instinct in my
being. As a boy, I was a great lover of birds. Their song did not appeal to
me as much as their superb dips and dives and other feats of flying. I
often wanted to emulate them. Now I can do things the birds cannot do. I
can loop the loop and fly upside-down.
        "You ask me how it feels," continued the great aviator, "to soar in
the heavens. Well, as you go up, up, up, you seem to be standing still with
the earth rapidly moving away from you. And as you mount higher the air
becomes cooler. Far below you can see the world stretched beneath, and the
cities look like toy houses, the people look like midgets. It is a pleasing
sensation; makes one feel free and happy and helps to drive away your
earthly troubles.
        "It is simply the dancing along life's icy brink and the attendant
excitement that makes life worth while. Chance-taking is not a business
with me. It is a delightful diversion, and no music lover ever is more
charmed by listening to the inspiring strains of his favorite opera,
superbly sung by a great artist, than I am charmed by the hum of my motor
when I am sailing in or out of a loop and upside-down flight. Some hunt
lions and tigers for thrills. But I love the sky and answer its call
because my whole life centers around the sensations of flying.

Source: Frank Marrero's
Lincoln Beachey: The Man Who Owned the Sky

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Lincoln Beachey Story