Title:California Aviation Company letters. 1911-1912
California Aviation Company letters. 1911-1912
Creator/Contributor:Cooke, Weldon B.
Creator/Contributor:Francis, Hervey D.
Creator/Contributor:Froberg, J. R.
Creator/Contributor:Gates, Ivan R.
Creator/Contributor:Hughes, E. M.
Creator/Contributor:Kerns, Thaddeus S.
Creator/Contributor:Lagrive, J. R.
Creator/Contributor:Meyerhoffer, Orvar S. T.
Creator/Contributor:Moran, George I.
Creator/Contributor:Seely, J. T.
Creator/Contributor:Thompson, Edward H., 1889-1931
Creator/Contributor:Black Diamond (Airplane)
Creator/Contributor:California Aviation Company
Creator/Contributor:Gilmore Airship Company
Creator/Contributor:Roberts Motor Company
This collection contains the records of the California Aviation Company (CAC), a partnership of two early pilots, Orvar S.
T. Meyerhoffer and Edward H. Thompson, which catered primarily to independent "backyard" aviators.
The bulk of the collection consists of correspondence, much of it with or about early aviators. It also contains a large assortment
of promotional letterheads, and offers a glimpse into the activities and "zeitgeist" of early aviators. The collection is
divided into three series: Correspondence, Financial, and Operational.
CORRESPONDENCE: has been divided into corporate and personal correspondence. Corporate correspondence includes communication
with: Ivy Baldwin; Weldon B. Cooke; S. Doi; Walter Edwards; Hervey D. Francis & George Van Ofen; J. R. Froberg; Ivan R. Gates,
pilot and agent for Didier Masson; Gilmore Airship Company; John Glang; Robert Hoshino; E. M. Hughes; Thaddeus S. Kerns; J.
R. Lagrive, or his secretary H. G. Allan; (L. B. Maupin, Bernard P. Lanteri, and Leo. W. Jackson), all of whom had an interest
in the Black Diamond; Matthew Mellard; George I. Moran and J. T. Seely.
Corporate correspondence also includes: correspondence between Meyerhoffer and Thompson, regarding aviation school; regarding
aerial advertising or exhibitions (in which the promotional letterheads are located); with Aero or other aviation magazines;
with suppliers (that with the Roberts Motor Company often discusses aviators); and general business.
Personal Correspondence includes: contemporary letters of Meyerhoffer to friends and family, usually not involving aviation
or business, and documents and correspondence of Thompson that pre or post-dates CAC.
FINANCIAL: includes; receipts or invoices for overhead expenses and materials purchased; invoices for goods or services provided;
and bills of lading.
OPERATIONAL documents include: forms and newsletters of the Roberts Motor Company; the catalogs, pamphlets, or samples of
other suppliers; shop drawings, price lists, and patents; address books; poster, contracts, and other items pertaining to
the 24 November 1912 Aviation Meet; and miscellaneous early aviation ephemera.
Meyerhoffer, Orvar S. T -- Correspondence
Thompson, Edward H -- 1889-1931 -- Correspondence
California Aviation Company.
Air pilots -- Correspondence
Aeronautics -- California -- History
In 1911 pilots Orvar S. T. Meyeroffer (1886-1920) and Edward H. Thompson (1889-1931) were employed by Cleve T. Shaffer and
Roy C. Scott's California Aero manufacturing and Supply Company in San Francisco. When that company dissolved due to litigation,
Meyerhoffer and Thompson purchased its inventory and formed the CAC. It became the agent of the Roberts Motor Company, and
manufactured, repaired, and sold aircraft, plus parts and supplies for aircraft and model airplanes. The company repaired,
and attempted to sell for its owners, the Black Diamond, which was piloted to an endurance record by Weldon B. Cooke right
before his mechanic crashed it on 29 January 1912 in Los Angeles. It is now part of the Smithsonian National Air and Space
CAC also taught individuals to fly and maintain aircraft. Pilots were trained at its flying field near Firebaugh, in Fresno
county, which was operated under the auspices of Miller and Lux. Mechanics were trained in the CAC shop at 743 Gough Street,
San Francisco. Many of the company's clients were Japanese; CAC claimed to have sold aircraft to the Japanese government,
and trained Japanese pilots and mechanics.
In 1912 aviation was considered a risky business; therefore, the partners sought to provide income for themselves via aerial
advertising campaigns and exhibitions. They were apparently unsuccessful in interesting prominent San Francisco businesses
in having samples or advertising dropped from the sky but, by writing civic groups in numerous towns with a population of
over 500 in California, Nevada, and Oregon, they succeeded in contracting to provide exhibitions, performed by them or by
their customers under contract to CAC.
One such event was an aviation meet at Ingleside Coursing Park on 24 November 1912. Meyerhoffer and Thompson borrowed money
to meet expenses, posters were printed and distributed, pilots and a caterer were placed under contract, and the affair was
advertised in the Examiner-admission $1.00. Reportedly, between 10,000 and 12,000 people attended. Unfortunately, only 1000
paid admission and CAC closed its doors soon thereafter.
Thompson returned to Planada, Merced County, with the company's records and inventory, where he occasionally corresponded
with past customers until 1915, offering equipment at reduced prices. His aviation activities thereafter are unknown. Meyerhoffer
became legendary in California's early aviation history as an airplane builder, mechanic, pilot, and promoter before his untimely,
and unfortunate, death.
California Aviation Company records, 1911-1912
Unrestricted. Please credit California State Library.
6 ms. boxes : letters.
Unrestricted. Please credit California State Library.