Nebraska’s First Aviation Meet

Aviation pioneer Glenn H. Curtiss (1878-1930) when just a teenager demonstrated mechanical ability that led him to experiment first with balloons and later with airplanes. During aviation’s earliest days Curtiss (who earned the first pilot’s license in the United States) appeared frequently in air shows and exhibitions. In the summer of 1910 he and several other well-known pilots participated in the Mid-West Aviation Meet, held July 23-27 at Omaha.

Wright brothers’ “aeroplanes” were scheduled to be at the 1910 state fair in Lincoln that fall, but the Omaha Aero Club was able to entice Curtiss to Omaha in July by offering him $10,000. An ad in the Omaha World-Herald on July 24, 1910, promised flights by Curtiss and by pilots J. C. Mars and John McCurdy. Also participating was pilot Eugene B. Ely, who the next year became the first man to land an airplane on board a ship.

“Their aeroplanes are on the ground tuned up and ready for the first flight Saturday afternoon. Magnificent prizes have been put up for the first world’s record broken and the most daring and spectacular flight during the Meet. These prizes will be awarded on the last day of the Meet. An opportunity will be given daily to view the Curtiss Biplane at close range. The machine will be run in front of the grand stand, and its principles and workings explained.”

Besides aircraft, spectators at the meet could view “war balloons now used by the United States Army. Lieutenant Haskell of Fort Omaha will be in charge of the War Balloons, and the Signal Corps from the Fort will give daily exhibitions. . . . Not since the famous International Meet at Los Angeles [held in January 1910] has there been an American Meet where such an opportunity has been given to view the present development of aerial craft-aeroplanes, dirigible balloons, captive balloons, and free balloons.”

Despite high temperatures and a “bad gale,” the Mid-West Aviation Meet was attended by more than four thousand people on the final day, when Curtiss received a World-Herald trophy for the most spectacular flight. Mars received a trophy for breaking the short-start world’s record, a feat which the World-Herald said on July 28 placed “Omaha on the map, aviatically speaking.”

A Lincoln aviation exhibition at the state fair followed that fall. The Lincoln Star of August 31, 1910, said: “Wright aeroplanes will be used during five days of the fair. Four flights will be made each day, two between 10 a.m. and noon and two between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.”

A Wright Brothers’ plane flew at the Nebraska State Fair in 1910. 

NSHS RG3356.PH:10-5

Become a Member!

Our members make history happen.

Join Now

Other Publications

The Bachelors’ Protective Union of Kearney

When the Bachelors' Protective Union gave a gala reception for two of its newly married, former members and their brides in March of 1890, the social club for young, ...

U.S. Weather Bureau in 1890s Nebraska

The U.S. Weather Bureau was established by an act of Congress on October 1, 1890. It took over the weather service that had been established in the office of the Chief ...

Canning the Way to Victory

During American participation in World War I the U.S. Food Administration, under the direction of Herbert Hoover, launched a massive campaign to persuade Americans to ...

The Shoemaker’s Ashes

"Edward Kuehl, one of the most peculiar characters that ever lived in Omaha, or anywhere else, was found dead in his bed last night in the back room of his place of ...

Crazy Horse Surrender Ledger Foreward

Red Dog, an Oglala Lakota who lived at the Red Cloud Agency, Nebraska, 1876-77 (Nebraska State Historical Society   In the summer of 1876, following the ...

Darryl F. Zanuck

Darryl F. Zanuck Darryl F. Zanuck (1902-1979), a native Nebraskan, produced some of Hollywood's most important and controversial films. He helped found 20th Century Fox ...

The Burlington’s Profitable Pork Special

Nebraska railroads were much concerned with developing an adequate economy in the areas they served. The Burlington, for example, had a long history of caring for the ...

Bungalow Filling Stations

After the giant Standard Oil Company was broken into thirty-four separate companies in 1911, the newly independent Standard Oil of Nebraska dominated the state's market ...

The Bull Fight

This is the perfect time of year for a visit to the old fishin' hole. But a group of fisherfolk from Plainview discovered that this bucolic pastime sometimes has ...

Buffalo Soldiers West

African-American soldiers on the western frontier are the focus of an exhibit at the Nebraska History Museum in Lincoln. Buffalo Soldiers West, on loan from the Colorado ...

Protection for Buffalo

The extermination of the buffalo on the Plains occurred largely between 1870 and 1885. The Nebraska State Journal of Lincoln on February 1, 1874, editorialized in vain ...

Buffalo Hunting

In late October 1877 young Rolf Johnson and three friends left their homes in Phelps County, Nebraska, for a buffalo hunt in northeastern Colorado. The hunt was not very ...
About History Nebraska
History Nebraska was founded in 1878 as the Nebraska State Historical Society by citizens who recognized Nebraska was going through great changes and they sought to record the stories of both indigenous and immigrant peoples. It was designated a state institution and began receiving funds from the legislature in 1883. Legislation in 1994 changed History Nebraska from a state institution to a state agency. The division is headed by Interim Director and CEO Jill Dolberg. They are assisted by an administrative staff responsible for financial and personnel functions, museum store services, security, and facilities maintenance for History Nebraska.
Explore Nebraska
Discover the real places and people of our past at these History Nebraska sites.

Upcoming Events

View our new and upcoming events to see how you can get involved.

Become a Member

The work we do to discover, preserve, and share Nebraska's history wouldn't be possible without the support of History Nebraska members.

History Nebraska Education

Learn more about the educational programs provided at our museums, sites, and online.

History Nebraska Programs

Learn more about the programs associated with History Nebraska.

Latest Hall of Fame Inductee

The Nebraska Hall of Fame was established in 1961 to officially recognize prominent Nebraskans.

Listen to our Podcast

Listen to the articles and authors published in the Nebraska History Magazine with our new Nebraska History Podcast!

Nebraska Collections

History Nebraska's mission is to collect, preserve, and open our shared history to all Nebraskans.

Our YouTube Video Collection

Get a closer look at Nebraska's history through your own eyes, with our extensive video collections.

Additional Research Resources

History Nebraska Research and Reference Services help connect you to the material we collect and preserve.

Support History Nebraska
Make a cash donation to help us acquire, preserve, and interpret Nebraska’s history. Gifts to History Nebraska help leave a legacy and may help your taxes, too! Support the work of History Nebraska by donating to the History Nebraska Foundation today.

Volunteers are the heroes of History Nebraska. So much history, so little time! Your work helps us share access to Nebraska’s stories at our museums and sites, the reference room, and online.