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The Kingston Oklahoma Steel Eagle

by
Lumini Services
Kendall Davis is well-versed in the English language. She has 20 years experience as a published author and writing for clients. Her published works include historical articles in museums, magazines, newspaper articles, columns, content marketing, advertising copy, blogging, and academic papers. Kendall also makes her way in the literary world as a copyeditor. Writing about history is her first love interest. If you have editing or content needs on your website or for your books, articles, blogs, or columns, please visit her website to see details and more examples of her work, the services she offers, and contact information. http://kdavis1836.wixsite.com/luminiwrites




“Flying Machine Thompson” and His Steel Eagle


Before Kingston, Oklahoma, was named Kingston, people called the town Helen. At some time there was both a Helen, and a Kingston, Oklahoma. A man named G. W. Thompson flew his miniature model air ship on Friday, June 6, 1902, in the company of 11 citizens of good standing from Kingston, and Helen, Oklahoma, 18 months before the Wright Brothers launched their “Flyer” at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. G. W. studied the American Eagle’s flight patterns and simulated his airplane designs after this mighty bird’s wing movements.


I found G. W.’s story at the Madill City County Library in a book made from a collection of old newspaper articles. The article in which G. W. Thompson appears includes no name of publication or date, but the article states that 1902 was 75 years ago. The editor of the Helen Herald in 1901-1902 was one of the 11 citizens who watched this flight and who signed an affidavit that they witnessed G. W.’s steel Eagle take off and soar into the sky.


The Publicity


This same, so far unnamed, editor sent out formal invitations for this event to observe “the most curious piece of mechanism on the face of the earth”. On June 6, 1902, several people showed up at the newspaper office to witness this machine’s flight, and the Helen Herald recorded that no man was better known in this region than G. W. Thompson.


G. W., a highly skilled machinist and well-known for his mechanical abilities, made noteworthy improvements to cotton gin machines and the ginning industry as a whole and worked long hours. In the summer of 1901, he moved his ginning operations from Kingston to Helen. G. W. just knew that he could make a machine fly like an Eagle and had finally found the time to perfect his invention in the winter of 1901-1902.


G. W.’s tales of a flying machine with Eagle’s wings earned him the nickname of “Flying Machine Thompson”. He considered his tools for his ginning machines too inferior to use for crafting a mechanical flying Eagle. But, he persevered and fabricated a model air ship.


The Steel Eagle Soars


In 1902, the Helen Herald reported:


“Without any question, Mr. Thompson has discovered and applied a principle in aerial navigation which has been ignored or unthought of by any other aeronaut by whom we have heard of or read.


Working in a primitive shop with the crudest tools imaginable, Mr. Thompson now exhibits a steel eagle that gets up from the ground by its own efforts, clears its way through the air, guides its way wherever its master wills. ‘Aye,’ enthused the editor, ‘It soars!’”


The affidavit unquestionably documented that the flying Eagle had flown.


The Patent for “The Kingston”


G. W. received some financial backing after his model’s success, but it is unknown to what extent. Articles published later recorded the grant of a patent in 1909, and I have found some pictures included in that patent (see pictures below this article).


In 1911, G. W. bought parts and an engine in Oklahoma City to design a life-size model which he called “The Kingston”. He rolled this new and improved machine into a shed just off the main drag in downtown Kingston.


But What Happened?


At the time the article I am referring to was published in 1977, elderly residents said that they, “ . . .always saw it [the 1911 model] the same way—on the ground”. Thompson even sold one ticket for the first ride in it, but we do not know if the passenger used the ticket. If this new air ship named “The Kingston” had indeed taken flight before the Wright Brother’s “Flyer”, why is there no national record of it?


The citizens of the area eventually elected G. W. for their judge and later on, the mayor of Kingston. “The Kingston” spent the rest of its life in a shed near downtown Kingston, Oklahoma, with its fate unknown at this time.


As in 1911 and 1977, today in 2017, it is the unrecorded events of the steel Eagle that remain a Marshall County, Oklahoma, mystery. The 1902 affidavit might be in a file or record somewhere, but where? An unknown, long-forgotten lawyer’s depository, in a lost City of Helen, or City of Kingston, file, or somewhere in historical Marshall County Courthouse records?


Whatever happened to “The Kingston” might be unknown, but the designs drafted by G. W. contain enough historical aviation value that a company named meghanndrive.com sells prints of its picture included in the patent.


This subject requires much more research that needs attention to the well-hidden annals of Marshall County, Oklahoma, historical records to which I have no access at this time. If you have any information to add to this story, please send an email to me at luminiservices@gmail.com.


Patent Text


This patent was issued to G.W. Thompson in 1909.


From the patent:


"Be it known that I, GEORGE W. THOMPSON, a citizen of the United States, residing at Kingston, Oklahoma, have invented new and useful Improvements in Flying- Machines, of which the following is a specification.


This invention relates to flying machines or, as they are sometimes known, air ships, and the object of the invention is to provide an effective apparatus of this type which is provided with means for navigating the air and for causing its ascent and descent at will, the apparatus also having means for readily steering the same.


The invention includes other advantageous features which with the foregoing will be set forth atv length in the following description wherein is outlined that form of embodiment of the invention which I have selected for illustration in the drawings accompanying and forming a part of this specification..." (1)


(1) https://www.meghanndrive.com/listing/463409344/flying-machine-patent-print-airplane


 


 




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