Wright Biplane over Mt. Penn and Reading - 1914
On Thursday July 9, 1914 an enthusiastic crowd of spectators gathered at Carsonia Park to witness two beautiful flights in a large, high-powered Wright biplane from the level lawn near the lake in Carsonia Park. Carsonia Park operated in Lower Alsace Township from 1896 to 1950. The park was constructed by the United Traction Company as a destination for its trolley service.
The Wright biplane exhibition was staged by J. F. Berger, who held similar exhibitions in many of the large eastern cities. His aviator did not attempt anything of an exceptionally daring nature, confining both flights to straight away flying. The only thrills furnished were in the descents, the big biplane swooping downward at a terrific speed in short spiral dips.
At 4:06 in the afternoon the crowd was forced off the field, the ropes removed from the big white biplane and the motors tuned up. The big rear propellers were revolved to start the engine. The motor was so powerful that the big propellers when whirling nearly lifted the machine off the ground. It required a dozen men to hold it down, while the airman took his seat and tested the various appliances. The draft from the propellers fanned the trees as if a gale wind was blowing. The airman shouted for the men to jump clear. As soon as they released their grasp, the big white aircraft shot forward like a bullet, the rubber tire wheels carrying it over the grass at ever increasing speed. After it had traveled 50 yards, the aviator was seen to raise his elevator, the biplane tilted slightly backwards and ran for a few yards on its rear wheels and then gathering momentum cleared the ground and rose into the air. The steady hum of the motors was plainly audible as the biplane receded from view. Flying at about 50 miles an hour and rising steadily until a height of 500 feet was reached the machine made straight for Mt. Penn, cleared its summit and then proceeded in the direction of the city.
For 40 minutes the machine was away from the sight of the big crowd gathered at the park. Then the hum of the motors was plainly heard and the biplane swung gracefully into view, flying over the park at a terrific speed and at an altitude of more than 1,000 feet. When directly above the crowd "Arnold's Bread" in big letters could be made out on the underside of the plane.
The field was circled twice, each lap being about two and a half miles. The airman made the turns abruptly but gracefully and swung back on his course without diminishing the speed of the biplane. His descent from the clouds furnished a thrill. He shut off the power and spiraled downward to about 200 feet above the earth, before restarting the motor and flying gracefully toward the field, dropping lower and lower. It finally swooped to the earth and came to a stop only a few feet from the place it arose.
Thousands flocked on the field to examine the biplane as it was drawn back to its original position. Ropes were stretched and the crowd could examine it at their leisure from a distance.
The evening flight began at 7:30. Because it was the first time the biplane was used after being assembled the aviator did not cut loose with many stunts in the afternoon, but in the evening he gave a pretty exhibition of fancy flying. He did not attempt a loop, but performed nearly all other thrillers. The plane was visible from the city, both flights being seen high above the mountains to the east.
The Reading Transit Company ran cars on a three-minute schedule during the late afternoon and early evening to the park as an immense crowd was conveyed to the scene of the flights.