Many Coldwater people witnessed an airplane tragedy on last Sunday afternoon when Joe La Chappelle, a member of the R. Carter Harrison Air Passenger Service and the Garver Flying Circus, dropped 200 feet to the ground from an airplane on which he was doing some acrobatic stunts and was instantly killed. He came to this city the latter part of last week with three other airplane men and, together, they were putting on an exhibition of difficult stunts with the airplane and parachute.
La Chappelle was known as a parachute dropper. His attempt here to do some trapeze and other acrobatic work was comparatively new to him. His previous attempt was at Meade and on a still day. Last Sunday afternoon quire a strong wind was blowing, and friends of La Chappelle warned him of the danger of attempting the stunts on the trapeze, but he insisted that the program as advertised be carried out. He had performed several stunts and appeared to get along all right until he came against a strong current of wind. He performed for a while on the trapeze, and finally hung form the bar by his hands, but the previous exertion seemed to have made it impossible for him to raise himself, the result being that in a very short time his strength in his hands and arms gave way and he plunged to the ground.
He seemed to have struck the ground on his left side, and with such force that the impact was sufficient to crush both arms and one leg and to crush his chest. The large crowd of spectators saw the man drop and many hurried to the scene of the accident, which was about three fourths of a mile south of town. The pilot in the airplane did not know that La Chappelle had dropped until he saw the crowd hurrying in a southerly direction.
The body was brought to the Roberts undertaking rooms in this city and prepared for shipment to the home of the unfortunate man near Grand Rapids, Mich., where his mother lives. His father was in the air service during the World War, and while in France was wounded while in an observation balloon, dying some time afterward.
La Chappelle was about 19 years of age. His sweetheart, Miss Mary Louise Klose, and her father, H. W. Klose, of Pratt had come here to witness the afternoon's program, and were among the number who saw the young man fall to his death. La Chappelle had worked in Pratt for about three years and had been in aviation work more or less during the past four years.
Francis Joseph ASHCRAFT
"Francis Ashcraft Killed In Aviation Accident", The Protection Post, February 23, 1928.
John W. ASHCRAFT, Jr.
"NOTED PROTECTION AVIATOR KILLED AT ROOSEVELT FIELD, NEW YORK", The Protection Post, July 4, 1929,
KANSAS GIRL TO SEEK AIR RECORD,
The Protection Post, September 5, 1929. (Just a few months after Jack Ashcraft's death, Lucille Wallingford from Ashland, Clark County, Kansas - which is the first town to the west of Protection, Kansas - sought to set a new record for an "endurance flight".)
Thanks to Shirley Brier for finding, transcribing and contributing the above news article to this web site!
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