Wiseman-Cooke - (scan - 1984)

This was the first plane built in California to fly, in 1910. In February 1911, flown by Fred Wiseman, it was the first plane to carry mail in the US.

Fred Wiseman, fellow race-car driver, J. W. Peters, and a Santa Rosa butcher, Ben Noonan, combined resources to build their aircraft based on photos of Wright, Farman, and Curtiss aircraft and from notes on aircraft they had seen at aviation meets. Wiseman said their biplane with front and rear elevators was a combination Curtiss-Wright-Farman aircraft using the best features of each. All products used in its construction were from CA except for prop and cloth which were imported. First California-built heavier-than-air craft to fly. Hall-Scott engine installed in Jul replacing original engine which failed to get aircraft off the ground in the "thin air" of hot days in California (No. 2 aircraft presumably flew later in summer of 10 and appeared at the Reno NV meet of 1910; it made first heavier-than-air flight in NV but later crashed when caught in a turn by a gust of wind). In Feb 11, Wiseman made plans to fly to home town of Santa Rosa and announced he would carry air mail if requested to do so. He received letters from the Mayor and Postmaster of Petaluma addressed to their counterparts in Santa Rosa. Taking off from the Kenilworth Park in Petaluma he landed after only 4 miles because of magneto trouble. Due to strong winds, did not continue flight until the next day when he completed the remaining 10 miles to a field just outside the Santa Rosa city limits. Although only a single instance, it took its place as an "official" first in air mail history. Weldon Cooke acquired aircraft (by gift or purchase) after 29 Jan 12 and entered it in an Oakland meet in Feb and "did some very excellent work." Plane inherited by his brother, Dr. Robert L. Cooke, who kept it crated at home until 33 when he loaned it to Oakland Port Authority who displayed it at the Oakland Airport.

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