Harvard-Boston Aero Meet

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Event names Harvard-Boston Aero Meet
Event type exhibition
Country US
Location Boston Harbor
Start date September 3, 1910
Number of days 10
Tech focus airplane, military
1910.9.3 - Harvard-Boston Aero Meet.jpg

The Harvard-Boston Aero Meet of September 1910 was an early project of the Harvard Aeronautical Society, intended to kindle public interest in aviation. Short on space, the club leased 700 acres of land on the Squantum Peninsula — this area became the Harvard Aviation Field and then Naval Air Station Squantum.[1] Participants included Wilbur Wright, Walter Brookins, Ralph Johnstone, and Glenn Hammond Curtiss.[2]

English pilot Claude Grahame-White was the meet's big winner. Having been invited by James Vernon Martin of the Harvard Aeronautical Society, and guaranteed $50,000 plus expenses, Grahame-White won the major contests of the meet, including $10,000 for a 33-mile course to Boston Lighthouse. Grahame-White took celebrities including Boston mayor John F. Fitzgerald for rides. (President Taft, though in attendance, declined his offer.)[3] On September 14, the day after the meet officially ended, he gave deemonstration flights and took passengers along for $500 a head.[4]

Grahame-White's greater successes with monoplanes may have presaged a shift from biplanes to monoplanes. A.V. Roe flew a triplane.[2]

One contest required pilots to bomb a mock battleship. This feat, which Grahame-White succeeded in doing from an altitude of 1,800 feet, demonstrated the military importance of airplanes.[2] As Acting Secretary of the Navy R.F. Nicholson wrote at the time: "One of the objects of this meet is to bring out the actual possibilities of the aeroplane as an offensive weapon in war, and prizes are to be offered for accuracy in hitting a suitable target with objects dropped from the aeroplanes." The lieutenant he sent to report on the meet, C.A. Blakely, was impressed by the value of airplanes for reconnaissance.[5]

Another meet was organized for 1911, from 26 August through 4 September.[2] And another was held in 1912.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Paul Freeman, Abandoned & Little Known Airfields, "Massachusetts: Southeastern Boston Area", 2002/2015.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 John Lenger, "Conquest of the Air", Harvard Magazine, May-June 2003
  3. Dennis Parks, "English pilot becomes aviation sensation", General Aviation News, 9 August 2015.
  4. "Massachusetts Aero Meets and Expositions 1908 - 1912", Massachusetts Aviation Historical Society, 2012.
  5. "Harvard-Boston Aviation Meet - 1910" - George Ficke, Early Birds of Aviation, 2000/2005.