Wednesday, November 3, 2010

JCHC Fun Fact: Brookville's "Bird Man"


A local to the Brookville area, Earle Sandt would become better known as Brookville's "Bird Man."  This wasn't because of an obsession with winged creatures.  Rather, Earle got his nickname from his love for flying and aviation.

At the age of 20, Earle first learned how to fly, and he would soon take the aviation world on by surprise; after purchasing his first airplane for about $4,000.00 Sandt accomplished aviation feats that no other had before.  Flying in his "pusher," a biplane where the pilot sat in the front of the plane while an engine and propellor mounted on the back provided the power to the vehicle, Earle would set two new records on February 20, 1912.  On this day, Earle became the first aviator to fly over Lake Erie as well as the first American pilot to ever land in a foreign country upon landing in Ontario, Canada on the other side of the lake.  Later that year, on June 15, Earle accomplished another first when he became the first pilot to fly over the city of Pittsburgh.  No other aviator had done any of these three things prior to Sandt.

Just as Earle Sandt was about to reach his prime as a pilot, his career would suddenly come crashing to a halt, literally.  On June 12, 1913, Earle was flying in an acrobatic air show in Grove City, PA.  During one of his stunts while flying low to the ground, something went wrong, and Sandt was forced to jump from his plane before it crashed into the ground below.  Since parachutes wouldn't become regularly used until about the time of WWI, sand hit the ground hard.  Luckily, he was flying low enough to only suffer a broken leg from the fall.  However, 10 days later, on June 22, Sandt would die due to an infection while in the hospital.

Earle Sandt was a pioneer in the aviation world.  He is honored for his feats and accomplishments in both the DuBois and Pittsburgh airports.  Next time you are at one of these places, try to find his plaque/picture hanging on the wall.

We also have a section of our main gallery devoted to sharing some of Earle Sandt's story with our guests.  These include newspaper clippings and photos, as well as a model of his biplane.  Be sure to come and check out the exhibit if you are interested.

I hope you all found this story of a local legend to be interesting.  Look for more updates in the days to come.  Right now, my focus is on designing us a few new brochures for the JCHC, a general one and one for students.  Feel free to leave any questions or comments.


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