Born: 29 July 1869, Perth Amboy, New Jersey
Died: 16 Feb 1938, New York City
Alan Ramsay Hawley was born on 29 July 1869 in Perth Amboy, New Jersey to Peter William Radcliffe Hawley (1829–1884) and Isabella Meritt (1838–1904). He attended the prestigious Trinity School in New York City before becoming a stockbroker with his brother, William Hawley, until he retired in 1912.
Before becoming interested in aeronautics, Hawley was a pioneer in the automobile movement, at the time when the car was an exceptional thing. He was also a founding member of the Automobile Club of America.
He learned to pilot a balloon from 1905 to 1906. He held the Aero Club of America’s pilot’s certificate No. 7, issued in 1907. On January 1, 1907 he ascended with Major James C. McCoy in a 35,000 cubic foot balloon Orient in St. Louis, Missouri. On April 22, 1907 he ascended over a mile in his balloon with Arthur T. Atherolt.
He entered the 1910 Gordon Bennett International Balloon Race with Augustus Post and they left the grounds of the Aero Club of St. Louis at 5:45 p.m. on Monday, October 17, 1910 in their balloon America II. The balloon had been specially constructed in France for this race and was owned by Major James C. McCoy. During the flight they took watches of three hours each, “one sleeping and one watching the statiscopes, aneroid, and other instruments” (sic). A recording barograph (altimeter) kept a precise log of their altitude during the flight. They reached altitudes of 5,000 meters (16400 ft) above the altitude of St. Louis, their altitude reference point. St. Louis is at 140 meters (465 ft) above sea level. 46 hours later, at 3:45 p.m. on Wednesday, 19 October they landed in the middle of the wilderness in Quebec, Canada, about 58 miles (93 km) north of Chicoutimi. They had been forced to land because of a storm. They were on a hillside at some 1,500 feet (460 m) altitude and had traveled 2,180 kilometers (1,350 mi) from St. Louis. They had traveled at an average of 50 kilometres per hour (30 miles per hour).
The next day they traveled south towards civilization. For the next three days they walked, sleeping under their blankets at night and eating a bare minimum of food. They eventually came upon a trapper’s hut, which was not occupied at the moment. They rested there for a day, after which four French Canadian trappers turned up. The trappers graciously accompanied them to Saint-Ambroise-de-Kildare, Quebec. Once there, they sent two telegrams, one to Alan’s brother William, and the other to the pilot of another balloon in the race. The message to his brother read:
“Landed in wilderness week ago, fifty miles north of Chicoutimi. Both well – Alan”
Their telegrams ended searches which had various parties had started, looking for them around the Great Lakes. Clifford B. Harman, a wealthy amateur aeronaut and aviator, had offered $1,000 to anyone who found Alan and Augustus, dead or alive. On the evening before their telegrams the amount had even increased to $7,000.
He was the first passenger to fly in an airplane from New York City to Washington, D.C. in May of 1916. The flight was in a battle plane and delivered petitions to the United States Congress and Woodrow Wilson urging the training of 2,000 aviators. At that time the number of aviators was limited to sixty, by law, which was considered sufficient for the US Army. As a result, President Woodrow Wilson authorized the creation of the Aerial Reserve on July 13, 1916.
Joseph/Samuel/Ephraim/Nathan/Jabez/William Dickinson/Peter William Radcliffe/Alan Ramsay Hawley