Photo courtesy Indian Territory Museum & Mary Maurer, Caddo, Oklahoma

From about 1908 through 1911, Monett investors led by L. B. Durnil and U. S. Barnsley sought to build an airplane.  They were involved in at least three projects with different inventors: (1) the efforts of Henry Laurens Call to build various airships at Girard, Kansas; (2) the efforts of A. E. Holbrook to build a helicopter aeroplane at Joplin, Missouri; and (3) the efforts of Edward DeChenne to build a biplane, first at Joplin and then at Monett.  The DeChenne aeroplane was a success and gave its first public demonstration flight at Monett on July 4, 1911, flown by Monett druggist Logan McKee.  It then made an exhibition tour in Oklahoma and Texas.

On September 16, 1988, the Monett Times ran a rememberance of McKee by one of his step-grandsons.  According to the article, McKee became involved with the DeChenne when he was hired to photograph it, but gave up flying sometime in 1911 at the behest of his wife.  This was probably a wise choice.  The Joplin Daily Globe for January 1, 1911, ran a front-page list of 30 pilots who had been killed in 1910, including two killed the preceding day in separate airshow accidents.  At a time when there were only a handful of airplanes, this was an appalling death rate.

In May, 1911, professional pilots Jimmy Ward and Hugh Robinson gave an airshow at Joplin's Electric Park flying Curtiss airplanes.  Ward attained altitudes of 2,000 feet, and the Joplin Daily Globe of May 30 described the flights as follows, "Dipping and turning at will, they circled about the field, and one could almost imagine that the machines were giant birds soaring close under the clouds."

By contrast, the Caddo, Oklahoma Herald of September 1, 1911, described a McKee/Dechenne flight this way: "The aeroplane made several straight away flights, going some distance, but hardly exceeding fifty feet in height, alighting in some pasture and returning to the grounds."  If I am reading this correctly, when McKee wanted to turn around, he landed and turned the plane around on the ground, then flew back to the fair grounds.  Turning was by far the most dangerous maneuver in early flight, and making a plane that could turn safely was a major design challenge for early airplane builders.  Either McKee was a very cautious pilot, or the DeChenne was a very limited aircraft.  In any case, the DeChenne company received $1,000 for a two day exhibition at Caddo.  According to an inflation calculator, $1,000 in 1911 would be over $26,000 in 2018 dollars.

Finally, on October 6, 1911, the Times reported that McKee had gone to Rust, Texas, to give an exhibition.  The next day Aero magazine carried a classified ad seeking a new pilot for the Dechenne, and on November 25, 1911, it carried an ad offering to sell the plane's engine.  "Cheap if taken soon.  Reason, have closed for season and can make more by spring."  If the plane ever flew again after McKee, I have found no record of it.  In February, 1913, Aero & Hydo magazine carried a "quitting business" ad offering to sell various assets of the DeChenne company.

Elaine Orr's photo book Monett purports to have a photograph of Logan McKee sitting in the Dechenne many years later in a Monett garage, but people who knew McKee personally tell me that he isn't the man in the photograph.  Moreover, the biplane shown in the photograph has a different engine, radiator and front carriage from those shown in known photographs of the Dechenne in 1911.  If it is the Dechenne, then the plane underwent later modifications.  According to Viga Hall, the Dechenne was stored in his father's warehouse, part of the V. B. Hall produce company, until after WW II.  When Viga's older brother, a WW II pilot, showed an interest in trying to fly it, his mother had it destroyed.

My research on this subject has consisted principally of skimming the Monett Times from 1908 through 1912, with a quick look at the Joplin Daily Globe for parts of 1910 and 1911.  This has turned up only sketchy information on the Call and Holbrook efforts, but a lot of information on the DeChenne.  Below are transcriptions of the original newspaper articles, with a few research notes, under the following headings:

Stock certificate number 213 for the Holbrook Helicopter Aeroplane Co., issued to Leroy Jeffries at Monett, Missouri, May 15, 1911.  The vignette shows horse drawn wagons delivering mining ore to a smelter, apparently the best the printer could do to represent modern times.  One other stock certificate for this company is currently known, number 61, issued to Roy Wilkins June 7, 1910.  The rising certificate numbers suggest Durnil and Barnsley had some success in finding investors for their company. Click on the image for a larger view.
Holbrook Monoplane.  This photograph owned by James Barnsley is not identifed, but is probably the Holbrook Monoplane built at Joplin in early 1910.  A discussion at The Aerodrome website suggests that there exists somewhere an identified view of the same scene.  A test flight of the Holbrook failed about March 5, 1910, because the engine was underpowered.  Note the masts which rise above the wing and which would presumably have held the vertical rotors called for by the Holbrook patent discussed below.  Many early airplane flights were held at racetracks.  Note what appear to be horse stalls in the background.  Photo courtesy of James Barnsley, a great nephew of U. S. Barnsley.
July 4, 1911, Gathering at Monett to Witness the First Public Demonstration of the DeChenne Aeroplane.  This image is from a postcard.  Logan McKee, the local druggist flying the plane, also published many of Monett's earliest postcards.
Getting ready to fly.  Photo courtesy Fields' Photo Archives, Cassville, MO. Photo may not be reproduced without the permission of Fields' Photo Archives.
July 4, 1911, The DeChenne Aeroplane in Flight, Monett.  This image is scanned from a 1937 book, Barry County in Pictures.  It was probably taken originally from a postcard.
Side View of the DeChenne.  Photo courtesy Fields' Photo Archives, Cassville, MO. Photo may not be reproduced without the permission of Fields' Photo Archives.
Rear View of the DeChenne.  Photo courtesy Fields' Photo Archives, Cassville, MO. Photo may not be reproduced without the permission of Fields' Photo Archives.
The DeChenne Engine.  Photo courtesy Fields' Photo Archives, Cassville, MO. Photo may not be reproduced without the permission of Fields' Photo Archives.
The DeChenne in Flight, Miami, Oklahoma, July 23, 1911.  Photo courtesy Fields' Photo Archives, Cassville, MO. Photo may not be reproduced without the permission of Fields' Photo Archives.
Barnsley Air Show Photograph.  This photograph has a note on the back "Glen Martin, Chicago, Ill., 9-12-12" and was taken at the Chicago Air Show by Logan McKee of Monett.  U. S. Barnsley frequently attended flying exhibitions to get ideas and may have met some of the early pioneers of American aviation such as Glenn Martin, who founded the company that eventually became Martin Marietta and is now part of Lockheed.  This photo is courtesy of James Barnsley, but the Monett public library has a duplicate which is explicitly attributed to McKee.
Barnsley Air Show Photograph.  This photograph by Logan McKee has a note on the back "A. Jannus, Benoist, Chicago, Ill., 9-12-12."  Tom Benoist was a St. Louis aviation pioneer, and Antony Jannus was his chief pilot.  Benoist ran a company that sold airplane parts to would be builders and may have furnished some parts for the DeChenne.  Wikipedia has articles on both men.  Photo courtesy of James Barnsley.
Barnsley Air Show Photograph.  This photograph by Logan McKee has a note on the back "American Monoplane, Chicago, Ill., 9-12-12."  This appears to be the same plane pictured on another web page as the Borel-Mathis Monoplane, but information under either name is scarce.  Another Barnsley Photo of the Same Plane.  Photos courtesy of James Barnsley.

Monett Times, Friday, January 17, 1908

Henry Laurens Call

Noted economist, member of The American Association for the Advancement of Science, will speak at the Monett opera house Wednesday evening at 7:30, on "The Concentration of Wealth."

Mr. Call is one of the most eminent, entertaining and brilliant of the writers and speakers of America, and just at this time his subject is the most interesting one before the people of the world.  Having been attorney for some of the largest corporations of this country he can show plain as a child's primer, the whole financial problem and how the great fortunes are made, the how and why of panics and how they can be avoided in the future, so all can understand.

The Monett Free Library will give free with each of the first hundred tickets sold at 15 cents, a copy of his book, that covers the whole financial question.  Get your ticket and book at once so you can the better understand the lecture, which no working man as well as business man can afford to miss.  Ladies free.

Monett Times, Friday, May 29, 1908

Several of our business and professional men who are stockholders in the air ship that is in course of construction at Girard, Kan., went over the first of the week to look after their interests.  They fixed the passenger schedule, which will be two cents per mile going up, return, free.

Monett Times, Friday, November 20, 1908

L. B. Durnil went to Girard, Kan., Tuesday to witness a trial of the Call air motor that is in course of construction and in which a number of Monett people are stockholders.

Monett Times, Monday, February 8, 1909

The Girard Inventor at Work
on Another Airship.

Henry Laurens Call, the inventor of an airship that helped make Girard, Kan., famous, was at the Coates house yesterday.

"I have just returned from Pittsburg, Pa., where I have purchased the aluminum for the construction of the Girard airship No. 2," he said.  "It will be the first aeroplane ever built of aluminum.  It has been used in gas bags, but not in aeroplane work.  It will take 500 pounds of aluminum, and the new ship won't weigh much more than half what the old one does.  It will carry eight passengers.  No, I haven't abandoned the old airship.  It will fly, too, as soon as the starting track is built.  Only the propellers were injured in the recent wind.  So in the spring we will have two airships that will fly instead of one.  I shall reduce the weight of the old machine one-third."

Monett Times, Tuesday, October 4, 1909

Judge L. B. Durnil and U. S. Barnsley will depart tonight for St. Louis to see the sights, hear Prof. Cook and get new ideas regarding flying machines.

Monett Times, Tuesday, November 16, 1909

U. S. Barnsley spent Sunday in Girard, Kansas.

Monett Times, Friday, May 9, 1911

U. S. Barnsley returned last night from Girard, Kan., where he had been attending a director's meeting of the Call Aeroplane Co.  He handed in his resignation as director of the company.

Monett Times, Friday, November 24, 1911


Girard, Kan., Nov. 18. -- Henry Laurens Call's airship got fifty feet into the air today.  Then the operator, being new at the business, shut off the engine and the machine tumbled to the ground and was demolished.  The operator escaped injury.

Call has manufactured a number of machines in the last four years, but this is the first one that would leave the ground.  He is elated over his prospects and expects to have another machine ready for flight in two weeks.


When the DeChenne aeroplane was moved from Joplin to Monett in late April, 1911, the Monett Times credited U. S. Barnsley with discovering H. L. Call and said that he and other Monettans started Call's company, the Aerial Navigation Company of America.  For the full text of the article, see below.  The details of this may survive in Girard newspapers, but the above articles are all I found in the Monett paper.

Barnsley (originally spelled Barnesley) was one of six brothers who manufactured cutlery in Monett.  His company apparently shipped its knives and razors by mail, as the Times said it brought the town free home mail delivery.  At the time, home delivery was available only in towns whose post offices sold a certain dollar volume of postage, which the shipping of Barnsley products made possible.  When Barnsley tried to raise additional capital for his cutlery business in July, 1909, his prospectus in the Times claimed that the company did "nearly $57,000 worth of business during the panic year of 1908 on a capital of $14,700."  In today's dollars, that would be almost $1.6 million of business on a capital of slightly more than $400,000.  The Barnsley Brothers Cutlery Company.

Barnsley was also a tireless business promotor.  In addition to pushing his cutlery company and the various aeroplane projects, he tried to start a company in Monett in June, 1909, to manufacture a hay press or baler.  One of his advertisements for this enterprise says, "If Monett don't want this, there are other places that do, as was the case in building the airship that Monett started, but would not put up the little more it would have taken to have kept it here."  It is not clear whether this refers to the Call airship in Girard or to the Holbrook monoplane in Joplin.  Apparently, one or the other started out in Monett, then moved.

Finally, Barnsley was a politically active socialist, which was probably his link to Henry Laurens Call and Girard.  In 1910, Barnsley filed as a Socialist candidate for a seat on Missouri's Railroad and Warehouse Commission (Times, May 27, 1910), and in 1912, he was the socialist candidate for Monett city treasurer, receiving 55 of the 620 votes cast (Times, April 3, 1912).  Before he became an airplane promoter, Call was a socialist writer and lecturer who authored books with titles like The Coming Revolution (1895) and The Concentration of Wealth (1907).  Girard was a center of socialism in the United States and the home of the Appeal to Reason, a socialist newspaper with a national circulation of about 750,000.  Call reportedly obtained the financing for his airplane from Girard socialists by promising to fly them to a socialist convention in Chicago.

Although L. B. Durnil, Barnsley's most active partner in the airplane ventures, was a Republican, Barnsley was not the only Monett socialist involved.  Logan McKee, who eventually piloted the DeChenne, ran as the socialist candidate for county coroner in 1908 (Times, November 6, 1908) and as the socialist candidate for second ward councilman in Monett in 1912 (Times, April 3, 1912).  He received 138 of the 5,046 votes cast in the county election and 56 of the 246 votes cast in the city election.  In addition, Charles Iden, who took the photographs of the DeChenne in flight at Monett on July 4, 1911, was a socialist (Times, June 5, 1908).

Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg, Kansas has a collection of material on H. L. Call and his activities in Girard:  The Call Collection at Pittsburg State.


L. B. Durnil was born in Virginia in 1851 but grew up in Mt. Vernon, Missouri, the son of a local blacksmith.  After several years of exploring the American West, including a stint as a miner in Arizona Territory, he settled in Monett in 1897.  He served two terms as mayor of Monett, from 1903 to 1906, and was probate judge of Barry County from 1906 to 1910.  He and his extended family founded Durnil's Dry Goods store in Monett in 1905, which remained a prominent local business into the 1920s.  Under the leadership of Will Durnil, the company expanded to Harrison, Arkansas, Neodesha, Kansas and Muskogee, Oklahoma.  In 1919, it claimed sales of $1 million, which would be over $14.5 million in today's dollars.  About 1917, L. B. Durnil returned to his mining roots and moved to Picher, Oklahoma, to invest in the lead mining boom, but he was buried in Monett when he died in 1928.  He seems always to have gone by his initials L. B., probably because his first name was Ludwell.

In 1905 Barry County Clerk Charles Manley published a small booklet titled Organization and Early History of Barry County, Missouri ..., which offered the following profile of Durnil:  "L B. Durnil was born in Carroll County, Virginia, in 1851.  In 1857 his father moved to Mt. Vernon, Mo., and engaged in blacksmithing.  Mr. Durnil attended school until about 17 years of age, when he and his father built a plow factory just west of Mt. Vernon, using Williams Creek for water power.  They made the first prairie sod plow ever made in Southwest Missouri, if not the first ever made anywhere.  They also made the first double-shovel ever made.  Mr. Durnil later went to Oregon where he remained some four years and then went to Los Angeles county, Cali.  Mr. Durnil was one of a party that crossed the Great American Desert with a six-mule team.  After three weeks facing sand storms the party reached Yuma Ariz., and went from there to Phoenix, Ariz.  Mr. Durnil engaged in mining in Arizona and New Mexico, and sold one mine for $30,000.  He moved to Monett from Hot Springs, Ark., in 1897.  He is at present serving his second term as mayor of Monett.  He is the senior member of the Durnil Dry Goods Co. at Monett and is one of Barry County's most progressive citizens."


The Holbrook Helicopter Aeroplane, side view drawing from patent 1,086,916, filed January 19, 1910, granted February 10, 1914.

Monett Times, Wednesday, March 2, 1910


L. B. Durnil and U. S. Barnsley went to Joplin Wednesday afternoon to look after the flying machine that is being built in that city by a company of which they are members.  A test may be made soon.

Monett Times, Monday, March 7, 1910

L. B. Durnil and U. S. Barnsley went to Joplin Saturday to inspect the flying machine that is being constructed by a company in which they are stockholders.  A trial was made but the engine did not develop sufficient speed to raise the machine.  They believe that the machine will prove a success.

AIRCRAFT, April, 1910, page 83

FOR SALE -- One 40 h.p. Eight Cylinder Curtiss Aerial Engine in good running order.  Price $725.00.  Address Box 188, Monett, Mo.


This classified ad also ran in the May, June & July 1910 issues of AIRCRAFT.  Located online through Google Books.

Joplin Daily Globe, Thursday, May 5, 1910



Joplin may have an aeroplane made in this city, which will compete in the aviation meet to be held here May 27, 28 and 29, if present plans adopted last night do not miscarry.  A committee consisting of Fred BaSom, T. C. Bradshaw and James Leonard will meet at 10 o'clock this morning in Mr BaSom's office for a conference with A. E. Holbrook, an aeroplane inventor, who has attempted several unsuccessful flights with a monoplane of his own design.  The committee has been vested with power to act for the Commercial Club.

L. B. Durnil, a Monett business man, and Holbrook, addressed the meeting.  They declared that several months ago the company, which has been formed for the purpose of building aeroplanes in this city, purchased an engine with which Glenn Curtiss experimented.  Owing to defects in several parts a successful flight was impossible.  With the exception of a suitable engine the aeroplane has been built.  It is their intention to interest members of the Commerical Club in a project to purchase a new engine for $2,000 and install it in the aeroplane in time to participate in the aviation meet to be held at Electric Park.

In the event that the new engine, which will be a Curtiss machine, is purchased, a company will be formed for the purpose of manufacturing aeroplanes in Joplin.  The craft invented by Holbrook is said to possess many features not embodied in other aeroplanes.  They have all been patented.


Monett Times, Tuesday, May 28, 1910

U. S. Barnsley went to Joplin Saturday to witness the flying machine exhibition [i.e. the Joplin airshow].


According to the date on its stock certificate seal, the Holbrook Helicopter Aeroplane Company was incorporated in 1909.  It was named for Arthur Erritt Holbrook, who applied for a patent on his airplane design January 19, 1910, and received it February 10, 1914.  The patent drawings show a strange hybird somewhere between a helicopter and an airplane.  There were two helicopter propellers on top for lift and another propeller in front for thrust.  One interesting claim in the patent was for "a novel form of propeller, wherein the angle of the operating surface of all the blades may be simultaneously varied." This is an idea used in modern helicopters and was advanced for its day. The complete patent is online here.

Apparently the Holbrook design was dropped in 1910, and the company became the corporate vehicle for building the DeChenne biplane.  On April 28, 1911, the Times reported that the aeroplane company had moved from Joplin to Monett and had $50,000 in inquiries for its engines, urging local businessmen to invest.

The exact connection between the aeroplane company in Monett and the engine company in Joplin is uncertain.  In December, 1910, Aircraft magazine carried ads for both the Holbrook-DeChenne Aeroplane Company at Monett (top left) and the Holbrook Aero Supply Company at Joplin (top right).  The ad for the Holbrook Motor Company (bottom left) appeared in the Joplin Daily Times for Sunday, May 28, 1911.  Its appearance was timed to coincide with the 1911 Joplin airshow.


On December 11, 1911, the Monett Times specifically mentioned a plan to build "Dechenne aeroplane motors" at Monett, but whether any engines were built in Monett prior to that time is unknown.  In any event, the Holbrook-DeChenne engine seems to have had more than local distribution.  In May, 1911, Aeronautics magazine carried an ad for R. O. Rubel Jr. & Co. of Louisville, Kentucky, an aircraft parts supplier, which said that Rubel carried DeChenne engines.


Joplin Daily Globe, Sunday, June 19, 1910


Is Equipped with Automatic Balanc-
ing Device Which Will Increase
Safety of Flying.

Employees of the Joplin Machine Works for some time have been building a biplane which they will enter in the aviation contests at Kansas City next fall, and for which they entertain great hopes.  The machine, in addition to being along practical lines, is said to be equipped with an automatic balancing device which, if successful, will promote the inventors to positions among the foremost aviators.

Thus far no person except those engaged in its construction have been permitted to see the machine.  It is understood, nevertheless, that it is along the lines of the Curtiss model, minus the balancing wings at either end of the planes, the automatic balance taking their place.  The planes proper are of aluminum, it is said, while the supporting rods, instead of being of bamboo and other tough woods, as now are being used, are of light steel.

Specially Built Engine

The machine now is awaiting the engine, which was specially constructed in the Joplin Machine Works, and one which is expected to revolutionize aeroplane motors in this country.  The motor is said to be of the four-cylinder type, directly connected to the propeller.

It was not decided to build the air craft until after the recent aviation meet at Electric park, when some of the prettiest flights ever seen in the country were made.  But when once started the work progressed rapidly, until now it is readily understood by those who have been taken into the confidence of the inventors that the machine, indeed, will be practical, and probably take its place among the famous models of this and other countries.

The exact date upon which the aeroplane will be tested has not yet been decided upon, but it probably will be during the present month.  The names of the inventors are at this time being withheld for obvious reasons.

Joplin Daily Globe, Sunday, July 3, 1910

First Flight of Aluminum
Aeroplane is Successful

Joplin Inventor Proves Merits of Original Design in Sat-
isfactory Test Flight at Aviation Field -- Remains at
Height of Five Feet for Six Minutes.

While storm clouds in the western sky were tipped crimson by the setting sun and birds of the field flitted lazily here and there, chirping softly as though seeking their nests for the coming night, there arose majestically from a spacious meadow adjacent to Electric park yesterday a ship of the air which, although resembling those recently seen here, and differing in no considerable degree from those exhibited elsewhere in this country and abroad, is expected to revolutionize all methods of aeroplane construction and accomplish that which the skeptical have predicted never could come, practicability in the art of flying.

And as the glistening monster, its white planes showing sharply against the darkened sky, its high-powered engine exhausts resembling the working of a machine gun in the hands of an expert, no expressions of awe came from the little group of spectators.  They were spellbound.  They held their breath and tried vainly to overcome the emotion which possessed them.  There, directly before and above them, responding to the will of her inventor and maniplator [sic] with the readiness of a human, they beheld the first aeroplane in the world constructed almost completely of aluminum.

Makes Successful Flight.

For several hundred yards it went, first this way, then that; now going straight ahead, now turning and dipping and zigzagging as the various levers were pushed forward or backward or wheels turned and handles worked.  No effort for height was made, and, therefore, the bottom plane seldom was more than five feet from the ground; and when the new wonder had behaved so beautifully for six minutes its motive power was shut down, the front plane permitted to slant gradually downward and it coasted easily to the grass-covered field, where, after hopping along on its four wheels for fifty feet, it stopped.

Then it was that the spectators found their voices; and, although the machine stopped many feet from where it first was started, it soon was surrounded and its operator lifted bodily from among the many wires which surrounded him, his eyes tear-laden, his hair disheveled, but a very happy man.  His hands were wrung, he was patted on the head and he was slapped on the back by his enthusiastic admirers, all of whom wanted to know how he felt, the sensation he had experienced while in the air, and other equally interesting information.  And the little fellow replied only with a smile, the barest trace of a smile, which seemed to convey all that was necessary.

Another flight with another man at the helm was attempted later, but the engine, seemingly as though to convey that it already had accomplished enough, missed fire so repeatedly that its exertion of power was not sufficient to elevate the plane from the ground, although the occupant enjoyed an exhilerating ride over decidedly rough ground.

Has Worked Constantly.

During the recent aviation contest at Electric park there was among the few permitted to inspect the several machines of approved pattern participating a machinist named E. M. DeChemm, who previously had assisted in the construction of an aeroplane in a little Kansas town.  De Chemm for many years had been a close student of aeronautics, and, although he never had the experience of manipulating one of his own, or any one else's either, for that matter, he aspired to some day doing something worthy of attention in the world of the man-birds.

The more he inspected the planes here, all of which were constructed principally of bamboo and other tough woods, rubberized silk and piano wire, the more convinced he became that an idea which he had conceived would be the means of revolutionizing the construction of similar vehicles of the future.

After the meet was over he took into his confidence an expert mechanic and acquaintance, W. O. Sowers, to whom he confided his ideas and asked assistance, immediately after which the two started work on the machine which has proven so successful.

Instead of wooden supports and cross pieces for the framework of the machine, it was the intention to use aluminum tubing, which it was figured weighed about the same and was much more rigid.  The machine, taken as a whole, however, would weigh considerably more than ordinary planes because of the intention to install a specially designed engine to operate a larger propeller, considered an essential point in the new machine's construction.

All this taken into consideration, it was decided that the horizontal planes should be longer than either the Curtiss or Wright models to overcome the excess of the total weight of the completed machine, and, therefore, the finished product is considerably larger in every respect than any other of the successful models now being used.

Uses Special Engine.

In a little Second street machine shop the plane was started several weeks ago.  The aluminum tubing once arrived, its assembling consumed but a short time in comparison with the time required to build the special engine, which, while developing thirty horse power, weighs somewhat less, it is said, than the average aeroplane motor now being used.

Early last week the machine was completed except for the covering of the planes with canvas, which later was to be treated with a solution of paraffin and rubber, whereupon it was decided to move it to Electric park, near where there is an adequate field for the intended tryout of the new invention.

Last Thursday the machine was completed.  She stood in a tent erected for its reception awaiting the coming of the men who were to push her out to the field and give her huge propeller its initial twist which was to determine whether or not "she" would be a success or otherwise.  Thursday evening the time for a test came, but before the machinery could be started and the operator take his seat a thunderstorm broke and postponement was necessary.

Friday the 'plane once more was taken to the field, but this time the engine was "balky," necessitating work which prohibited further tests that day, after which the machine, much to the disappointment of the few spectators, once more was wheeled back to its tent.

Yesterday morning De Chemm and his mechanic were working early on the engine, which still seemed inclined to "spit" and otherwise misbehave.  By noon, however, the word was sent out that the engine had been remedied, and that a test would be made during the late afternoon or evening.

It was not until after 6 o'clock, however, that some fifteen men assisted in pushing the big 'plane out into the center of the field.  Some time was then spent determining the most adequate course, after which the machine was taken to the top of a gradual raise in the land, turned about and everything made ready.

The engine, which previously seemed to work smoothly, once more showed signs of going wrong, thus necessitating a considerable delay in its adjustment.  When the propeller finally was "cranked," however, it whizzed around at the rate of some 1,500 revolution a minute, while the exhausts of exploded gasoline were loud and regular.

His First Flight.

De Chemm then took his seat and tried his levers and motive power controls.  He was somewhat pale, and there was a suspicion of unsteadiness in his hands, but this he overcame with obvious effort, after which he turned to the crowd of men holding the machine, raised his right hand slowly, then dropped it quickly to a position on the steering wheel.

Instantly all hands let go.  Once released, the big propeller pushed the 'plane hurriedly over the field on its four wheels, gaining momentum in every foot.  One, two, three hundred feet were covered in a twinkling with the wheels still on the ground.

"She's not going up," shouted some skeptic.

"There she goes as sure as fate," yelled another man.  Then the silence came and lasted until the flight was over.

The machine left the ground after reaching a slight dip and gradually arose until dangerously near a clump of trees to the southward.  Instead of going over these, however, De Chemm encircled them and pointed the nose of his 'plane once more toward the starting point.  At no time did the 'plane get higher than five feet because of the operator's timidity.  When within a few hundred feet of the starting point the planes forward were seen to drop gradually, after which the plane soon struck the ground, bounded along and stopped.

De Chemm said afterwards that he probably could have gone higher, but he was satisfied with the showing at five feet and was willing to postpone all higher flights until some future date.

The only weak point discovered about the new machine was in the front wheel axles.  These were bent considerably by coming into contact with the ground.  Both will be repaired or replaced within the next few days.  And, notwithstanding the success of the flight, De Chemm is not satisfied with the operation of the engine, and, therefore, it is the intention to devote considerable time to making repairs before another test is attempted.

"It will not be until after several tests that we will be satisfied that there are no weak points," said De Chemm.  "Every flight will develop something, I suppose, and it will not be until we have set her up probably twenty times that we will be certain of our invention.  I am convinced, however, that we have now solved the problem of proper aeroplane construction."

After the machine has been perfected several exhibition flights will be made at Electric park here, after which it is the intention to take the machine on a tour of the southwest.

Joplin Daily Globe, Sunday, August 14, 1910


Unexpected Air Current Causes Flyer
to Swerve -- Aviator Regains Con-
trol Barely in Time.

After making a pretty flight at a height of thirty feet over a field near Electric park last Friday afternoon, the DeChenne aluminum aeroplane, with which experiments have been made the past few months, got beyond the control of the aviator, E. H. Simpson, and crashed unexpectedly to the ground, badly damaging the running gear and disarranging the planes.  Simpson escaped with slight bruises.

The machine, which is the only one of its kind in the country, probably the world, recently was fitted with a high-power engine to overcome the excess in weight resulting from the metal construction.  Friday everything was made ready for a flight in the morning, but a high wind necessitated postponement until later in the day.  Toward night the wind died down and the plane was wheeled from its shed to the center of the field.

Machine Behaves Well.

Taking his seat, Simpson signaled to one of the mechanics to "crank" the propellor, which no sooner had been done than the machine was in the air and traveling fast.  After circling the field several times at a height of thirty feet, Simpson decided to descend and lowered his front plane.  The big bird responded admirably, but before dropping many feet it turned suddenly sidewise and fell rapidly.  Before striking the ground, however, the aviator succeeded in righting it, with the result that it landed on its wheels with sufficient force to break them off.  Simpson was thrown out of his seat but was uninjured.

The inventors of the aeroplane are convinced that their machine will do all they expect of it, and after the damage has been repaired other flights will be made.  The plane was made in Joplin and is constructed principally of aluminum tubing instead of bamboo and other woods, as are those now generally used.  Since it first was finished several partially successful flights have been made, but until Friday no effort was made to take it higher than five or ten feet.

AERONAUTICS, November, 1910, page 185

MOTOR FOR SALE - One 35 h.p. water cooled motor that has made an 800-pound aeroplane fly (but for which building a 50 h.p. motor same design).  Good as new.  Gives 260 pounds thrust.  Weight 165 pounds.  Condition guaranteed O.K.  Should be used on and abundantly ample for 600 or 700 pound machine.  Price $500.  Write quick if wanted.  Address Box 188, 6th & Broadway, Monett, Mo.


The DeChenne Aeroplane at Joplin on March 8, 1911, the day after it was wrecked by pilot "Ed Wilson" as described in the following article.  This is the earliest known photo of the DeChenne.  Wilson is the man with his arm in a sling.  For more on him, see the Research Note below.  Photo courtesy of Wilson's grandson, Eddy Clayton.

Joplin Daily Globe, Wednesday, March 8, 1911


Test Flight of Machine Built by Jop-
lin Man is Complete Success From
Scientific Standpoint

The slightly unexpected success of a new aeroplane's initial flight nearly cost an amateur aviator's life yesterday afternoon, when Edward Wilson, the aviator, fell with the machine from a height of fifty feet.  The aeroplane was wrecked.  Wilson was severely bruised, but will recover.

The aeroplane, which was built by E. M. DeChenne and W. O. Sowers, is constructed entirely of aluminum.  Its spread is thirty feet from tip to tip, weighed about 600 pounds, and carried a fifty-horse power engine made entirely of aluminum, which weighs about 200 pounds.

Turned Levers Too Far

Yesterday was the first attempt made to fly the machine.  Wilson, being an inexperienced aviator, was advised to keep the machine on the ground until he became acquainted with the levers.  With his first attempt he made poor progress, but after regulating the propeller he again made an attempt, and this time he arose from the ground about fifty feet before he could regulate the levers.  When he saw at what a great height he was, he tried to lower the planes, but in doing so they were dropped too far, and while going at a rate of forty miles an hour the machine struck the ground.  The machine was wrecked and Wilson was thrown clear from the car, and fell on his right side.  His right shoulder, arm and hip were badly bruised, but he was saved from further injury by the bending of the aluminum when the car struck the ground.

"I am perfectly satisfied that the machine was a success in every way," E. M. DeChenne, the inventor of the aeroplane, said last night, "and if Wilson had not lost his head when he found himself up in the air, I feel confident that by tomorrow the fame of the aluminum aeroplane would have been spread all over the world.

"I have been working on this machine for about nine months.  Last July I had it out for a day, but at that time the engine I had was only thirty horse power and was not powerful enough to keep the machine up in the air.  Sowers and I then built the engine that we used yesterday.  It was made entirely of aluminum.  In fact the entire machine was aluminum, except the canvas covering of the planes and the wood box for the engine.

Engine Not Damaged

"The engine was not damaged in the fall, but the planes are a wreck.  I have not examined it thoroughly, but if I find that the machine cannot be rebuilt I will begin at once to make another.  In any event, it will be completed within a month."

U. S. Barnsley and Judge L. B. Durnil of Monett are backing the inventor in the project.  They were present at the flight yesterday and were well pleased with the action of the machine before the accident.

These men have requested Mr. DeChenne to build another aeroplane as soon as possible to be patterned after the car wrecked yesterday.  This will be done at once, and it is said no changes whatever will be made in the new machine.

Joplin Daily Globe, Thursday, March 9, 1911

Aeroplane Smashed in Fall Removed
to Repair Tent

The remains of the aluminum aeroplane which was wrecked Tuesday afternoon just west of Joplin were removed yesterday to a tent located near where the accident took place by the inventors, E. M. DeChenne and W. O. Sowers.  It was given a general overhauling but they have not decided whether it will be best to rebuild the framework on the old machine or build an entirely new machine.

The engine was not damaged by the fall but the propeller was broken in several places and both planes were badly twisted.

The accident occurred Tuesday afternoon when Edward Wilson, an inexperienced aviator, attempted to run the machine on its first trip.  He was instructed to keep the aeroplane on the ground at the start, but he was lifted about fifty feet in the air before he could regulate the levers.  He tried to come down, but in doing so he turned the planes too far and the machine crashed to the ground while going about forty miles an hour.

Wilson was but slightly hurt in the fall, as the aluminum bent when the car struck the ground and this broke the fall to a great extent.

Monett Times, Friday, March 10, 1911

The Holbrook Flying Machine
Wrecked and Aviator

The Holbrook Helicopter Aeroplane Company had an accident at Joplin Tuesday in which their aviator was seriously injured and the machine was demolished.

A number of Monett people, and especially Judge L. B. Durnil and U. S. Barnsley, are financially interested in this company and Tuesday those gentlemen went to Joplin to make a test of the new aeroplane which had been under course of construction for several months.  Messrs. Durnil and Barnsley are the heaviest stockholders.

The machine was taken to a pasture west of Joplin where after some experiments a short flight of a few rods was made by their aviator, W. F. Wilson.  The flight proved satisfactory and a second was attempted.

On the second trial the machine made a rapid ascent to a height of 100 feet and then moved rapidly forward for a distance of half a mile when it was seen to dip suddenly downward and drop to the earth in a crushed and shapeless mass, with the aviator underneath the wreckage.  Wilson was dragged from beneath the machine and taken hurriedly to a physcian in the city where an examination showed that although badly bruised no bones were broken.

It was ascertained that the engine was not badly damaged and the company will at once proceed to construct a new machine.

Monett Times, Friday, March 10, 1911

U. S. Barnsley went to Joplin Wednesday to help clear up the wreckage of the aeroplane that met with the accident Tuesday and prepare for the construction of a new one.

Monett Times, Friday, March 24, 1911

Mrs. U. S. Barnsley, Miss Lottie Ruckle, Judge L. B. Durnil, L. D. McKee and Chas. Iden went to Joplin Wednesday, to watch the testing of the aeroplane that has been repaired and that was badly damaged in the preliminary tests a few weeks ago.

Joplin Daily Globe, Friday, March 24, 1911


Joplin Amateur Uses Re-
markable Presence of
Mind in Practice Flight
on Prairie.
Wilson Climbs Onto Frail
Forward Frame, Bringing
Machine to Earth --
Severely Bruised.

When his aeroplane, soaring above the earth west of Joplin yesterday afternoon, suddenly balked and appeared determined to fall backward, with probable fatal results to himself, Edward Wilson, an amateur aviator, brought quick wit into play and saved himself and the machine by a remarkable piece of aerial gymnastics.

He shut off his engine, climbed from his seat onto the network of rods, wires and canvas that projects in front of the main body of the machine and by thus altering the position of his weight tilted the forward part of the aeroplane downward so that it came to earth right side up.

His Second Accident

Not even Walker's [sic] presence of mind was equal to the task of decreasing the speed of the descent and the aviator was hurled to the ground with considerable force, for the second time in two weeks suffering injuries that demanded surgical attention.

As a demonstration of the practicality of an aluminum aeroplane, the trial flight of E. M. DeChenne's machine was highly successful, although it came to the same near-tragic end that completed a previous flight, equally successful, two weeks ago.

V. [sic] S. Barnsley and Judge L. B. Durnil of Monett, who are backing E. M. DeChenne, a French mechanic, who became a resident of Joplin about a year ago and began the construction of the aluminum plane, were among the half dozen spectators yesterday afternoon. They have established a hangar on the praire just southeast of Electric park, where splendid facilities are offered for such experiments.

Was Trapeze Performer

Wilson, the young aviator, was formerly a trapeze performer in a circus, and was engaged as aviator chiefly because of his possession of unlimited "nerve."  His fall on the first flight two weeks ago was due to inexperience.  The accident yesterday afternoon, however, was caused by the breaking of two small wires that control the "rudder plane," allowing the rear end of the machine to drop downward and threatening to send it hurtling over and over to the earth.

The inventor, Wilson and Barnsley and Durnil spent the entire day yesterday on the field.  Taking advantage of the early morning calm, Wilson skimmed back and forth across the field a number of times between 5 and 6 o'clock.  Before 7 a wind arose that made further trials impossible and it was not until shortly before sunset that the wind died down sufficiently to allow Wilson to fly.

Rises Easily

After skimming across the field a number of times, rising several feet above the ground on each flight, Wilson tilted the nose of his flier a little higher and the glistening machine shot upward at a sharp angle.  Wilson warped one of the side planes, intending to turn, in a rising spiral, when the watchers saw the machine tilt sharply, the nose pointing upward at an angle of nearly 45 degrees.  It was then between 75 and 100 feet above the earth.

Before any of the spectators had time to grasp the situation they saw Wilson leave his seat and climb quickly along the weblike bridge leading to the forward planes, while the whirr of the propeller subsided, showing that he had cut off the power.  The shifting of the operator's weight had the desired effect, and the machine righted itself, the nose again pointed downward, and it swept swiftly to the ground.  Wilson was severely bruised, but was not seriously hurt. The machine was slightly damaged.  Had it fallen backward the aviator could hardly have escaped death.

Joplin Daily Globe, Tuesday, March 28, 1911


Machine Will Be Repaired in Time
for Third Trial Flight Before
End of Week

Joplin's debut into the aviation world was given another setback by the windstorm of Sunday night, the large tent housing an aeroplane manufactured by W. O. Sowers and Edward De Chenne, and a glider, invented by Kendrich Koss, a South Joplin lad, blowing down and all but demolishing the aeroplane and completely wrecking the glider.

A big gust of wind swept across the aviation field, west of Electric park, and disaster followed in its wake.  The large center pole supporting the canvas fell when the stakes holding the sides of the tent gave way, falling across the aeroplane.  The main side wing and the rear rudder of the machine were broken, while other parts, less important, but necessitating repair, were broken.

Guard Deserts Tent.

Since the aeroplane was moved to the hangers several days ago a watchman was kept in charge constantly, but as the storm became more intense Sunday night, the guard was forced to seek more comfortable shelter.  He came to town.  Later, however, he returned to the aviation field and discovered that during his absence the canvas had blown down, wrecking the machine, together with the glider, which occupied the attention of Kost for many months.

A third trial flight of the aeroplane was to have been made today had the weather permitted. Edward Wilson, an amateur aviator, calculated upon attempting to pilot it, despite two former unsuccessful endeavors, when each time he fell to the earth and barely escaped serious injury.

It can be expected that the machine can be repaired before the end of this week, the inventors being engaged in repairing it.  When placed in condition and with satisfactory weather, attempt at flying will be made.

Joplin Daily Globe, Thursday, April 6, 1911

De Chenne Machine Proves
Makers of Other Flier Say Their In-
vention Is of Superior Design --
To Test It in a Few Days

It flew.  The De Cheney aluminum aeroplane, which has been having its trials and tribulations west of Joplin, demonstrated that the Joplin make of the air screws can ascend into the vacant ozone and stay there.

Ed Wilson, the amateur chauffer who was unfortunate in driving it several days ago, piloted the aeroplane.  The owners demonstrated the machine all yesterday afternoon.  There was not a mishap and the machine ascended into the air and maintained a fair rate of speed.

The machine weighs about 750 pounds, and the Joplin air critics say that it is too heavy for the plane surface. They use a 50-horse power engine.

Competitors Witness Flight

Griep and Hogue, who are constructing an aeroplane at their shop over Willow Branch on Wall Street, witnessed the flight and were on hand to aid their fellow flyers.  Their machine is nearly completed and they expect to have their engine here in a few days.  Mr Griep said last night that it would be ready for flight in thirty days.

It is not built on the same plan as the De Cheney aeroplane.  They have used light wood and rubberized silk for a covering.  The machine is as large as the French aeroplane, which recently carried twelve persons.  When the engine is added it will only weigh 400 pounds, having a lighter weight of 300 pounds than the De Cheney aeroplane. They have a much larger plane surface.

The silk they use is so constructed that it will stand a weight of 60 pounds to the square foot.  They intend only to carry enough weight to make it a pound to the foot.

Joplin Daily Globe, Sunday, April 9, 1911

Joplin Aviator Makes Five Ascensions
in Aluminum Aeroplane -- Will
Try Again Today.

Five successful flights in an aluminum aeroplane were made near Electric park yesterday by Edward Wilson, an amateur aviator, who has been learning the art of flying in a machine invented by E. M DeChenne of Joplin and U. S. Barnsley of Monett.

During one of the flights Wilson reached a height of about ten feet and flew for a distance of nearly one-half mile, alighting at will.  In each endeavor he rose from the ground without difficulty, retained perfect control of the machine and came down with perfect ease.

The flights were made after 5 o'clock yesterday afternoon, after the youthful manbird waited a week for the weather conditions to become favorable.  The high wind during the day prevented any attempt at flying. When once he entered the seat in the aerial car he piloted it with success, for the first time during the many experiments, all parts working smoothly and being in good condition when he completed the flight.

No attempt was made yesterday by Wilson to gain an extensive height, or distance.  His experience in manipulating an aeroplane has been acquired only since he began testing the aluminum invention of Barnsley and DeChenne, but each time witnesses further progress in the art.

Today the young man will attempt other flights, if the elements are in his favor.

"We expect soon to place Joplin on the aerial map," said Barnsley, after yesterday's success, "as the flights today and others of recent date demonstrate that our machine will fly.  Also, Wilson is determined to make it fly, as is apparent from the trouble he has had before conquering."

Monett Times, Friday, April 14, 1911

Judge L. B. Durnil and L. A. Mason went to Joplin Saturday [April 8] to look after trial work on the flying machine.

AERONAUTICS, May, 1911, page 172


Edward Wilson, of Joplin, Mo., has been making flights in a Curtiss-type biplane designed by E. M. DeChenne, of the DeChenne Aeroplane Co., Monett, Mo.

A feature of the machine is the use of aluminum for the framework, and the builder is even thinking of using sheet aluminum instead of cloth for covering the planes.  In this instance it is claimed that aluminum has the advantage over wood in that it "does not break from the shock. It can be bent almost double and straightened out again as good as ever, several different times if necessary. 1t is really lighter for the same amount of strength, also."  The machine actually fell from a height of about 50 feet without doing very much damage.  When the aviator is more proficient. it is intended for him to make exhibition flights.  The motor in the machine is a DeChenne.  Outside of the strut sockets, which are cast aluminum, and the aluminum struts and other parts of the framework, the machine follows in general style the well known Curtiss with the inevitable El Arco radiator.


"Ed Wilson" was the show name of Edwin Wilson Clayton (ca. 1886-1949), a balloon ascensionist and parachutist who performed in Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Missouri from around 1901 into the 1930s.  One of the places he performed was Lakeside Park in Joplin.

According to contemporary newspaper accounts, "Wilson" at one time had a cannon attached to a hot air balloon.  He ascended to 4 or 5 thousand feet and had himself shot out of the cannon, descending on a parachute with a trapeze attached.  On one occasion, his parachute failed to open completely, and he broke both ankles and suffered other serious injuries.  He sued the parachute manufacturer for $10,000.  Later in life, he lived in Los Angeles.

"Wilson" was first mentioned as pilot of the DeChenne in the newspaper article dated March 8, 1911, above and was replaced by Logan McKee of Monett sometime before the newspaper article of April 21, 1911, below. The letterhead and information are courtesy of his grandson, Eddy Clayton.

Monett Times, Friday, April 14, 1911


Judge Durnil and U. S. Barnsley went to Joplin Thursday morning having received word that the storm of Wednesday night had wrecked the tent in which their aeroplane was stored and that the machine was badly smashed.  The promoters of the enterprise are playing in bad luck.

Joplin Daily Globe, Sunday, April 16, 1911

Way of the Flier Is
Hard and Beset With
Variety of Mishaps

Joplin Inventor Now Working on
Latest Machine After Series of Ac-
cidents Have Defeated Attempts.

For double-distilled, eighteen-carat, real hard luck, that De Cheney aluminum "air steamer" can't be beat.  The aeroplane was constructed last summer.  It has been "busted" up, engines wrecked, propellers shattered, drivers injured, but the last straw that put a "crimp" in the camel's back came last Wednesday night, when a playful gust of wind put the "boat" on the "blink."

It's no wonder that the owners were slightly inclined to rebuke Dame Fortune.  More than likely any other persons would have sat down and gave the old lady a good "sound cussing."  Why not -- if you had been living on salt pork and corn pone for eight months, raking and scraping to put all of your odd dimes in a machine that meant the whole fortune to you, wouldn't you feel downcast and possibly blue?

Well, as a matter of fact, De Cheney felt out of sorts after the 'steenth time when the engine blew up.  But it has got to be a habit.  When the owner and promoters were informed that the cyclone had demolished the machine, which was in a large tent at the aviation field at Electric park, they folded their arms, gave a sigh and then not even said that "I told you so." What was the use? They long since wore the expression out.

And now they are at work getting a new machine made here for the aeroplane meet which is to be held at Electric park in May.  Critics had said that their machine was lacking in plane surface.  They are building their machine large enough to carry twelve persons.  They swear by the "nine Gods of Greece" that they will have a "scow" at that meet that will carry off the silver loving cup, which is being donated by the park to the amateurs.

The machine was completed last June, shortly after the Curtiss biplanes were here.  It was a partial success, but to get experienced drivers was out of the question.  They had to manufacture a chauffeur in Joplin.

That driver "raised Cain" with the aeroplane in learning to run it.  Two or three times when in the air he lost his head and turned his guiding planes suddenly.  The result was that he would shoot the car crashing to the ground and something always broke.

Then it was discovered that the engine was not large enough to carry the machine.  A few more weeks were consumed in getting a larger horse-powered engine.

It went on this way for quite a while until three weeks ago the machine was taken to the Electric park.  It was placed in the big tent.  A few days before some of the interested parties from Monett came down to witness a flight, the wind blew the center pole down, damaging the right wing.

They had to wait a while longer, and again the machine was in shape.  This time it flew.  It had been proven practical. Then the cyclone came along -- well, another machine has to be built now.

Monett Times, Friday, April 21, 1911

Judge Durnil and L. D. McKee were in Joplin Wednesday and Thursday and made a number of short test flights of their new aeroplane. The machine worked nicely and Mr. McKee had but little trouble in handling the machine. They will make another series of tests in a few days.

Joplin Daily Globe, Saturday, April 22, 1911

More Hard Luck for
De Chaney Aeroplane

Tenth Smashup Wrecks Aluminum
Flyer --- Promoters Not Discouraged
--- Will Keep on Trying.

Well, the De Cheney aluminum aeroplane had hard luck once again Thursday.  The machine was remodeled last week after it had been seriously damaged by the cyclone.  The operator had been driving it for nearly a half hour at Electric park when the "thing" fell from a height of twenty-five feet.  The machine was again badly damaged.

The promoters are figuring on laying in a thorough stock of engines and other parts of the machine for such emergencies.  This is the tenth time that something has gone wrong with the machine in the air.

It has been entered in the amateur aviation contest which will be held at Electric park May 28, 29 and 30.  There are several other home-made aeroplanes to attempt their initial flights on that date.  The Curtiss biplanes will exhibit here also.


Newspaper stories on the late May air show do not mention the amateur contest.


Monett Times, Friday, April 28, 1911

The Monett Aeroplane Company

It is to be hoped that the Aeroplane proposition is properly taken care of by the business and professional men of Monett.

As the Aeroplane business is only in its infancy, although the Wrights and Curtiss have each made about a million dollars out of it already, a smart start here will no doubt develop into an immense industry in a few years.

It will be remembered that it was U. S. Barnsley who first "discovered" H. L. Call and with other Monett people started the Aerial Navigation Company of America, which has one of the most complete Aeroplane plants in the world and about a $700 weekly pay roll now.  Mr. Barnsley as is well known, promoted the Barnsley Bros. Cutlery Co., of Monett that has never paid its stockholders less than 15% until last year, a very bad year when it paid 10% only, but has a very bright prospect for the year.  The extra business of this company substantially increased the salary of the postmaster of this city and gave it free delivery.  It is such enterprises as this brings money to a town and builds it up.  And he is now confident of success of this new enterprise.  In fact has now inquiries for at least $50,000 worth of DeChenne Motors already, made by this Company.

Now if we get the Aeroplane and Motor factory, Monett will be "flying" sure enough.

The work has heretofore been done at Joplin but in the future Monett will be headquarters and the enterprise if properly encouraged, will bring hundreds of people to the city.  Every man in Monett should take stock in the company.

Monett Times, Friday, May 19, 1911


We are informed by U. S. Barnsley that the workmen who have charge of the aeroplane are getting along nicely with their work and that if certain material arrives soon the machine will be ready for trial tests about June 1st.

The public is anxiously awaiting the completion of the machine.

Monett Times, Friday, May 26, 1911


The workmen who are building the aeroplane have advanced sufficiently with their work that they are now assembling the parts.  A large tent has been erected near the shop and in it the work of construction is being carried on.

It is expected that the machine will be completed within the next ten days.

Monett Times, Friday, June 9, 1911


The De Chenne Aeroplane, that has been in the course of construction for the past two months was completed Thursday and on this morning was taken to the aviation grounds on the P. Martin farm south of town where it will be assembled and prepared for a series of tests and preliminary flight.

Yesterday a test of the engine was made and it was found to have 320 pounds development, but 30 pounds less than the famous Curtis 60 h. p. engine.  This development is 75 pounds more than is required to fly the machine.

This is the machine that will make flights here on the Fourth.

Monett Times, Friday, June 16, 1911


A number of tests of the De Chenne Aeroplane were made at the aviation grounds south of town Wednesday [June 14].  Short flights to test the machine and familiarize the aviator, L. D. McKee, the longest being a quarter of a mile.  The machine was permitted to rise about twenty feet and was kept under good control.  The machine works satisfactorily.

Monett Times, Friday, June 23, 1911

In the aeroplane tests Monday night one of the wooden stays broke and the machine dropped a short distance to the ground.  The aviator was not hurt and the damage can be repaired in a couple of days.

Monett Times, Friday, June 30, 1911


If you fail to attend our Fourth of July celebration next Tuesday you will ever regret it.  It will be a great event.


Aviator L. D. McKee is making daily flights in the aeroplane getting everything in ship shape for the Fourth of July exhibition.  This feature of the celebration will be worth a trip of fifty miles . . . .

Carl Lehnhard with Frank Rowden and Alvin Cox drove to Peirce City, Wentworth, Sarcoxie, Bowers Mill, Stotts City, Mt. Vernon and Freistatt yesterday to advertise our Fourth of July celebration.  From all sections over which they motored they heard of people who were coming to the celebration.  The aeroplane flights are what are interesting them.

Monett Times, Friday, July 7, 1911


Logan D. McKee, aviator of the DeChenne aeroplane, made a magnificient flight Saturday [July 1] evening.  He started at the aviation grounds and flew down the valley to the Wormington pasture, where the exhibition flights will be made July 4.  He traveled high in the air and the machine flew as gracefully as a bird and made a pretty descent.  Hundreds of people witnessed the feat and were greatly delighted with the spectacle.

On Sunday afternoon Mr. McKee made an ascent, but owing to some trouble with the engine he was obliged to alight on rough ground.  Some minor repairs had to be made, but every thing will be in good shape Tuesday.

Monett Times, Friday, July 7, 1911

Aviator McKee Escapes Injury
But Machine was Broken
By Mishap

Thursday morning [July 6] L. D. McKee had his first real mishap in the handling of the DeChenne aeroplane.

He began his flight at the grounds where he made his Fourth of July maneuvers and flew up the valley until near the Athletic park where he made a successful turn and started on his return.  When near the starting point and at a height of 50 feet the engine for some unknown cause, slackened speed and Mr. McKee turned the aeroplane eastward.

The machine struck the earth with considerable force and one of the planes, the propeller and some of the minor parts were broken.

Fortunately the aviator escaped injury and the repairs to the machine can be made in a few days.

Those who saw the flight say that it was the finest ever made in the city.


Monett Times, Friday, July 21, 1911


E. M. DeChenne, Carl Saxe and Everett Dehanas went Sunday with the DeChenne aeroplane to Miami, Ok., to attend a three days Farmers' Institute.  Flights will be made in the machine Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.  L. B. Durnil, U. S. Barnsley and L. D. McKee went over Tuesday.  McKee will make the aviation flights.

Monett Times, Friday, August 25, 1911


The DeChenne aeroplane made some successful flights at Commanche, Ok., last week with L. D. McKee as aviator.  They will now go to Caddo, Ok., and will make flights August 24 and 25.  The aeroplane company will receive $1000 for the two exhibitions at Caddo.

Caddo Herald (Oklahoma), August 11, 1911

Flying Machine

The Corn Carnival Committee has made a contract with the DeChenne Aeroplane Co. for two or more flights with an aeroplane each of the three first days of the Carnival.

This will be the first airship to fly or be seen in southeastern Oklahoma, and the flights are guaranteed, so that you are reasonably sure against disappointment if you come to this Carnival.

The Committee was compelled to guarantee $1000 to secure these flights, but this is just another instance of the enterprise of Caddo people.  Nothing is too good for our carnival and nothing is too good for our visitors.

Doubtless this feature will add thousands to the number of visitors who will come to the Carnival but Caddo is able to comfortably take care of the crowd.

Caddo Herald (Oklahoma), August 18, 1911

The flying machine will be a feature never before had in this part of the state, and people from a hundred miles distant are expected to come.  It is a guaranteed proposition, and if no flights are made the aviator gets no pay.  The flights are to be made the first three days.

Caddo Herald (Oklahoma), September 1, 1911

The Third Annual Caddo Corn Carnival a Big Success

Last Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday the Third Annual Caddo Corn Carnival was held in Bilbo Park, according to plans.  Wednesday was given over mainly to getting ready, placing exhibits and getting acquainted.  In the afternoon the aeroplane which had been advertised as a big thing, attempted to fly, but got only about eight or ten feet from the ground, falling into the cotton patch just south of the grounds.  No further attempt was made to fly that afternoon.


[Saturday] The aeroplane made several straight away flights, going some distance, but hardly exceeding fifty feet in height, alighting in some pasture and returning to the grounds.


The Caddo articles are courtesy of Mary Maurer of Caddo, Oklahoma, who also scanned the DeChenne photo at the top of the page.

Monett Times, Friday, September 22, 1911

The DeChenne Aeroplane is in Okmulgee, Okla., for exhibition purposes this week.  Next week they will take it to Ada, Okla.

Monett Times, Friday, October 6, 1911

L. D. McKee has gone to Rust, Tex., where he will give a three day exhibition with the DeChenne aeroplane.

Monett Times, Tuesday, October 6, 1911

U. S. Barnsley went to Fayetteville, Ark., Thursday morning to visit the Washington county fair and to witness a series of aeroplane flights.


AVIATOR -- Wanted -- for Curtiss type biplane.  State experience and per cent expected of our receipts which are $1,000 for three days.  DeChenne Motor & Aeroplane Co., Monett, Mo.


MOTOR -- For sale, one 50-horsepower De Chenne power plant complete.  Cheap if taken soon.  Reason, have closed for season and can make more by spring.  De Chenne Motor & Aeroplane Co., Monett, Mo.

AERONAUTICS, November, 1911, page 187

FOR SALE - A bargain.  One De Chenne 50 H.P. Power Plant complete with propeller, etc., with or without aeroplane for same.  Has made only about 100 flights and good as new.  Reason for selling, closing for season.  Correspondence solicited.  DeChenne Motor & Aeroplane Co.

Monett Times, Tuesday, December 11, 1911

E. S. Case has opened up a machine shop in the old cutlery building on Sixth Street.  He expects to manufacture DeChenne aeroplane motors.

AERO & HYDRO, February 15, 1913, page 370

BRAND NEW FRAMEWORK OF SPLENDID flying biplane: also lot of material such as new cable, wire, steel tubing,clear spruce, etc., worth probably $350.  First $50 offer gets all.  Quitting business.  DeChenne Motor & Aeroplane Co., Monett, Mo.

THE IRON AGE, April 8, 1915, Volume 95, Number 14, page 834:

It is authentically reported that the Barnsley Brothers Cutlery Company, Monett, Mo., contemplates the removal of its manufacturing plant from Monett to Billings, Mont. The company manufactures razors, scissors, manicuring tools, etc., and the new plant will employ about 200 men. The first unit, a brick structure, 50 x 100 ft., will be erected this spring.

The Jeffries Collection of Monett Photographs & Documents.

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