July 23, 1911
It was an auspicious start for a record-setting career in aviation . . . In the skies above the Nassau Boulevard Aerodrome on Long Island, 23-year-old George W. Beatty first flew solo in a plane. This flight occurred less than a month after he began taking lessons from instructor Arthur L. “Al” Welsh at the Wright Flying School. By that time, Welsh had made his own mark in aviation history as the first flight instructor for the Wright Brothers.
On the same day during which Beatty first flew solo, he and Welsh established a new airborne record together. With Welsh as the pilot, both men took to the skies together in a plane and in the process set a new U.S. two-person altitude record of 2,648 feet (807.1 meters). Just a couple of weeks later, Beatty himself would break that record when he and a passenger named Percy Reynolds reached a height of 3,080 feet (938.8 meters). Beatty received an honorary cup from France’s Farman Company for the duration record he set during that flight.
Beatty’s subsequent aviation accomplishments included establishing various flight endurance records, becoming the first person to land a plane in Manhattan, and – after he moved to England in 1913 – training more than 1,000 pilots for the Royal Flying Corps, Royal Naval Air Service, and Royal Air Force.
For more information on George W. Beatty, please check out http://www.earlyaviators.com/ebeatty.htm.
Information on the National Air and Space Museum’s collection of photographs, correspondence, and news clippings that pertain to George W. Beatty can be found at https://airandspace.si.edu/collection-objects/george-w-beatty-collection-1910-1940-bulk-1910-1912.