Tag Archives: Trepassey

“Trepassey residents shaken out of their customary staidness”

US Navy ships Trepassey Bay May 6, 1919

In May 1919  (100 years ago)  the international press and aviation enthusiasts throughout the world  were all very interested in what was happening in Trepassey, Newfoundland.

The Evening Telegram reported on May 6, 1919:

“Never before in its uneventful history has the small settlement of Trepassey been filled with such excitement as today permeates that place. For from a vague idea of what the much talked of Transatlantic flight is, the little village has in a flash become a very centre of operations, and already the people there have become used to the sight of nearly a dozen American cruisers anchored in the harbor.“

On May 6 the residents of Trepassey sat on the banks overlooking the harbour to witness the arrival of a two American naval vessels.   They were unannounced and unexpected. On Saturday morning two more vessels anchored in the harbour. Before the end of the week there would be a dozen naval vessels  with a crew of approximately 8,500.

The Telegram reported:

The furor caused by the entirely unexpected arrival of the U. S. N. “Kistoo” late Friday afternoon, and that caused on Saturday by the arrival of two others, the flagship “Prairie” and the seaplane mother ship,” “Aroostock,” had best be left to the imagination.”

Everyone in Trepassey and residents of nearby St. Shott’s were all up bright and early on Saturday morning – all gathered in small clusters trying to figure out what was happening.   It was eventually revealed

“ a seaplane was lowered to the water and, running along the surface for a short distance, ascended into the air and went circling off over the harbour and village”.

Curtiss NC-4 departs Trepassey Bay, Newfoundland May 16, 1919

NEVER SEEN THE LIKES BEFORE

 There was much excitement – never had anyone in Trepassey seen a flying machine in the skies before.

The newspapers reported:

“As in the case of the Martinsyde biplane’s test flight, the gulls and other sea birds that were peacefully floating on the waters were startled out of their calm and flew away to safety out of reach of this new manner, of bird that had invaded the quietness of the placid air of the port.

The gentle sheep, the more spirited goats and the virile ponies that browsed along the grassy slopes of the immediately surrounding country were panic-stricken at the sight of the seaplane and more so, perhaps, at the unearthly sound of the powerful motor, and for a long time after the flier had dropped back to the harbor they capered madly about the fields and the winding lanes that constitute the roads of the village.

Not less than the animals, it must be admitted, the people themselves were shaken out of their customary staidness, and for hours after they met in little groups and discussed this new wonder that had come amongst them, and a most amusing feature of these conferences were the wild hazards of the natives as to what “drove” the plane and what kept it in the air. This problem has not been solved at Trepasey yet. “

At about 1.30 the seaplane made another flight, circling over the harbour for about half an hour. The inhabitants now lined up along the beach, and although not so excited as on the day preceding they were just as interested as ever.

Photo Credit: The Rooms, St. John’s, NL Flying Boats Trepassey A47-42

U.S. NAVY ATTEMPT, AT CROSSING THE ATLANTIC

The U. S. Navy were attempting   to cross the Atlantic by air using four seaplanes of uniform type.   The flying machines chosen were the Navy-Curtiss machine, built by Curtiss with the cooperation of the Navy; all fitted four Liberty motors, and four propellers.

The plan was that on the voyage across the Atlantic the planes would fly together keeping in sight of each other all the distance.  The navy vessels in Trepassey were to depart Trepassey  Harbour  and were to be posted  along the route with  a total of fifty-seven other ships all along to the Azores, being situated fifty miles apart. Thus, when the seaplanes left Trepassey, flying for the  Azores they  would at no time be more than twenty-five miles away from a cruiser.

Upon arrival at the Azores they were to refuel and begin the fourth leg of the flight, going to Lisbon, in Portugal. Refueling there  and then the fifth and last leg at Plymouth, England.

TREPASSEY FEELS A PERSONAL INTEREST IN THE FLIGHT

Lieut. Richard James

The crowd from Trepassey were quick to claim very personal connection to the newly arrived Americans   – they discovered that aboard the “Aroostook” was Lieut. Richard James who laid claim to Trepassey roots.

The locals were quick to tell the reporters   that  Lieut. James was born in Trepassey, but left there some thirty years ago.  (1890’s)   the newspapers reported:

His occupation before Trepassey left him with a minute knowledge of the harbor, and it was he who piloted in the other ships on upon arrival here. There are several people who remembered the old native, and the entire village, needless to state, is proud of him. The fact that, after thirty years absence, he could successfully pilot the cruisers in the harbor, is a high tribute to the knowledge and skill of Lieut James. “

ENTERTAINING THE AMERICANS

With the population of  Trepassey at approximately 800 what were they to do with 8,500 visitors?

The people of Trepassey wanted to show the men on the navy vessels a good time. The hand of hospitality was extended to them all.  The Telegram reported:

“Last evening a dance was held in one of the houses, several sailors being present, while numerous individual men were invited out to homes in the village.

Newfoundlanders have always been noted for their hospitality and kindness to strangers, and when, Saturday night, the likeable Yank sailors came ashore in quest of adventure and other things, they were  treated with the customary kindness and consideration for which outport people are so famed.

The sailor boys were a “little” disappointed over Trepassey,—for even to the most optimistically minded, Trepassey is not a very modern city—and altho careful not to say this or anything else that would give offence, their long faces told their own story. To make matters worse, the weather, although delightfully clear and fine, was exhilaratingly keen and having recently returned from Cuba the Americans felt the cold pretty badly.

The one and only shop was besieged and raided and every stick of gum, every cigarette and every drink that was in the place absorbed.

Postcards were in demand but here again the postcard fiends were doomed to disappointment.”

One of the naval officers Mr. Balcon S. Bond, the Chief Radiograph Officer of the U. S. S. Prairie, wrote:

“Fishermen would take us in parties from our ship and show us around the district. In fact, I cannot begin to tell you of some of the good times we had in dear old Trepassey and I am sure that the village will never be forgotten.”

He also wrote:

“Many homes gave us suppers for the small amount of fifty cents, and it was some supper. About  four good fresh eggs, a large piece of ham, as many cups of coffee or tea as you could drink, and good old home-made bread and butter. If you were to call for a supper like that in New York, I am sure it would cost you two and a half dollars easily.”

TREPASSEY IS NOT A SECOND NEW YORK

 The newspaper reported:

 The fact is, Trepassey is not a second New York, and nothing but the very necessaries of life are sold there.

A number of sailors who had missed the last boat going to the ships, moored about a quarter mile off the shore, were taken in by people of the village and spent their first night in Newfoundland domiciles.

Sunday morning came in bright and fair and although a rather high N.W. wind blew during the day the sun shone out warmly and the weather was not altogether bad. Again a large number of sailors were given shore leave, and the Roman Catholic Church, the only one in the place, was filled to capacity at both early and late services.

During the day Trepassey was gaily bedecked with flags of all descriptions, flown in honor of the visitors, while the hurrying sailors and sight seeking natives, swiftly moving motor boats from the ships, and devout church-goers made a most interesting sight, one whose equal in interest Trepassey has never before witnessed.”

NC BOATS ROARED IN TURN DOWN TREPASSEY HARBOR

On Friday evening, May 16, three NC boats roared in turn down Trepassey harbor and flew off into the gathering darkness over the Atlantic.

When the naval vessels were passing out of Trepassey many people were seen on the beach, waving, and many fishermen blew three fog horn blasts. In return the  naval vessels  gave three long blows of her whistle.

On May 27,1919, NC-4’s keel sliced into the waters of the Tagus, Portugal. The first transatlantic flight was indeed an accomplished fact.

 

TREPASSEY WAS PART OF THE FIRST FLIGHT!!

The Rooms: NEW EXHIBIT Opening June 7, 2019     “Second to None: Highlights from the History of Aviation in Newfoundland & Labrador”

Newfoundland and Labrador has played a significant part in the history of aviation. Through archival documents and images from The Rooms Provincial Archives supplemented with artifacts from The Rooms Provincial Museum, this exhibition will feature highlights from the storied aviation history of our Province.

 

Join Aviation History NL  as we celebrate the 100 year anniversary of Alcock & Brown’s historical non-stop crossing of the Atlantic

Aviation History NL

aviationhistorynl.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amelia Earhart in Trepassey: 90th Anniversary Celebrations

ARCHIVAL MOMENT

June 17, 1928 

Amelia Earhart, June 14, 1928, Trepassey, Newfoundland

As a passenger on the Friendship, (Fokker F7 airplane) Amelia Earhart, the first woman to hop the Atlantic, flew from Trepassey, Newfoundland, to Burry Port, Wales, on June 17, 1928.

The Friendship and crew successfully landed in Newfoundland on  June 5 only to encounter gales or fog for days that prohibited their takeoff for Europe.

Earhart Arrives in Trepassey, June 5, 1928

···· The Friendship circled Trepassey twice before putting down in the choppy water of the harbor after a flight of 4 hours, 24 minutes. As the big monoplane taxied slowly toward the small cluster of houses on the eastern shore that was the town of Trepassey, dories full of men whirling ropes (Amelia called them maritime cowboys), each evidently hoping to guide them in, surrounded the Friendship, …

The town magistrate, Fred Gill, and his two sons,  Burnham and Hubert, waiting near the monoplane in a dory, secured the honor of giving Amelia and Bill Stultz  (pilot) a ride to the dock. Slim Gordon  (mechanic) came later, after tending to the plane.

The children of Trepassey, who had been watching and waiting at the windows of the convent school facing the harbour, ran down to the shore en masse. Amelia “had a vision of many white pinafores and aprons on the dock,” and was under the impression that school had let out early so that the children could greet them. In fact the children had simply fled without permission for which they were made to stay late.  She went up and visited with the children later at the convent school; the nuns were scandalized by the sight of a woman in pants.

One of the Telegrams that was sent to Amelia Earhart in Trepassey from a friend George,  (Putnam)  knowing that Amelia had not packed a change of clothing wired:

“SUGGEST YOU GO INTO RETIREMENT TEMPORARILY WITH NUNS AND HAVE THEM WASH SHIRT ETC –STOP”

It was arranged that the three fliers would spend the night at a small frame two story house with attached general Store belonging to Richard (Richie Dick)  and Fanny Devereaux …. Mrs  Devereaux too at first sight of Amelia in her “breeks” and boots was “quite overcome, and felt her to be sure I was present in the flesh.”

The Deveraux children,  among them,  a young girl  who was to grow up to be  Sister Theophane Curtis of the Presentation Congregation,  the daughter of Fanny Deveraux from a previous marriage moved from their family home to live with relatives.

DEPARTURE FROM TREPASSEY  – June 17, 1928

The team left Trepassey Harbor, Newfoundland, in a Fokker F7 on June 17, 1928, and arrived at Burry Port,Wales approximately 21 hours later, a distance of more than 2,010 miles (3,235 kilometers), in 20 hours 49 minutes.

When the crew returned to the States, they were greeted with a ticker-tape parade in New York and a reception held by President Calvin Coolidge at the White House. From then on, flying was the fixture of Earhart’s life.

Earhart predicted that Trepassey would one day have an international airport.

On June 21, 1928 the prestigious New York Times newspaper following an interview with Amelia Earhart declared that Trepassey would be the site of a great international airport. The newspaper headline declared:

Miss Earhart Predicts Great Airport at Trepassey for Transocean Flights.” 

Earhart told the New York Times reporter:

“Trepassey ought to be someday, a great airport for transoceanic travel. It processes the finest harbor, perhaps the only harbor, adapted naturally for seaplane takeoffs in its part of the world.”

The experience in Trepassey might have been the inspiration for Earhart in the 1930’s  to design  a line of “functional” women’s clothing, including dresses, blouses, pants, suits, and hats, initially using her own sewing machine, dress form, and seamstress.  She photographed well and modeled her own designs for promotional spreads.

Recommended Archival Collection: What do we have in the ‘Rooms Archives’ on this subject?  Type  Aeroplane or Flight in the search bar here: http://gencat1.eloquent-systems.com/webcat/request/DoMenuRequest?SystemName=The+Rooms+Public&UserName=wa+public&Password=&TemplateProcessID=6000_3355&bCachable=1&MenuName=The+Rooms+Archives

Recommended Archival Collection:  The Rooms Provincial Archives holds a series of photographs (H5 – 32-35)  taken of Amelia Earhart prior to commencing the world’s “first transatlantic solo flight by a woman”. Earhart took off from Harbour Grace, Newfoundland  on 20 May 1932 and landed in Northern Ireland about 13 hours and 30 minutes later.

Recommended Reading: Earhart, Amelia. 1928. 20 Hrs., 40 min.: Our Flight in the Friendship. G.P. Putnam’s Sons:New York. (Reprinted in 2003 by National Geographic Adventure Classics:Washington.)

Recommended Website:  The official Website of Amelia Earhart:  http://www.ameliaearhart.com/

International Airport Proposed for Trepassey

ARCHIVAL MOMENT

June 21, 1928

International Airport at Trepassey, Newfoundland

On June 21, 1928 the prestigious New York Times  newspaper declared that Trepassey, Newfoundland would be the site of a great international airport.

The newspaper headline declared:

“Miss Earhart Predicts Great Airport at Trepassey for Transocean Flights.”  

The headline came about as a result of an interview that Amelia Earhart had with the international press shortly after landing at Burry Port, Wales becoming the first woman to make the Atlantic crossing.

Earhart and her crew had departed fromTrepassey, Newfoundland the morning of June 17 landing “across the pond” on June 18.  Prior to departure from Trepassey she has spent twelve days in the town meeting many of the local people.

Earhart told the New York Times reporter:

“Trepassey ought to be some day a great airport for transoceanic travel. It processes the finest harbor, perhaps the only harbor, adapted naturally for seaplane takeoffs in its part of the world.”

But she cautioned that Trepassey needed to develop an infrastructure to sustain this new industry that was emerging.  She told the reporter:

“…there are very few trains from the outside world into Trepassey and absolutely no facilities for taking care of a plane or repairing them. … If someone would build a seaplane station in Trepassey it would be a great help to aviation, for there is going to be more transatlantic flights from there so many that they will not even be of interest to the public.”

Unfortunately for Trepassey no infrastructure was established.

In Newfoundland, the town of Harbour Grace became the airport of choice. The  Harbour Grace airfield, built on the summit of this hill by the  local  people became starting point of many early flights from West to East.  Amelia Earhart  the next time she was in Newfoundland  by passed  Trepassey that she had spoken  so highly about   and completed the world’s first transatlantic solo flight by a woman after taking off from Harbour Grace, on 20 May 1932 and landing at Northern Ireland about 13 hours and 30 minutes later.

Recommended Archival Collection:  (International) George Palmer Putnam Collection of Amelia Earhart Papers:  The Amelia Earhart papers offer a rare glimpse into the life of America’s premier woman aviator. In 1928 she was the first woman to fly across the Atlantic.  The online collection includes more than 3,500 scans of photographs, maps, documents, and artifacts relating to Earhart.  http://www.lib.purdue.edu/spcol/aearhart/

Recommended Reading: East to the Dawn: The Life of Amelia Earhart  By Susan Butler.  Da Cappo Press, 2009.  (A chapter is devoted to her time in Trepassey.)