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Kerns (Thaddeus S.) Personal Papers
SDASM.SC.10086  
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Collection Overview
 
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Description
Thaddeus Kerns was born in Santa Ana, California on June 5, 1894, and died in a plane crash on July 15, 1913. At a very young age, he built a full-sized plane with his own hands, with the exception of the engine, based on the Curtiss model. He taught himself how to fly with determination and courage. He even obtained a patent for a “flexible rib” in 1911, when he was only 17 years old.
Background
Thaddeus Kerns was born in Santa Ana, California on June 5, 1894, and died in a plane crash on July 15, 1913. At a very young age, he built a full-sized plane with his own hands, with the exception of the engine, based on the Curtiss model. He taught himself how to fly with determination and courage. He even obtained a patent for a “flexible rib” in 1911, when he was only 17 years old. Thaddeus Kerns built and flew a glider near his home in Chico, California, in April 1910. By September 1910, Kerns built his home-made airplane and flew it for the first time on January 10, 1910 at the age of 16, living up to his nickname of “Boy Aviator.” After that, Kerns accomplished many more exhibition flights around his home in Chico, at a state fair in Kansas, and was also granted permission by the Postmaster to fly a pouch of mail at the Santa Rosa, California, Driving Park Aviation Meet on May 17 and 18, 1913. Thaddeus Kerns died at the young age of 19, when he flew his last flight within 300 yards of his home. At the height of eighty feet, the lower wing spar of the airplane broke in two, causing the plane to sag and the propeller to ripping through the canvas, making the plane dive straight down into a grain field and tearing a hole into the soft ground. His mechanic, Arthur Smith, claimed the plane and the engine were in good condition, and planned to fly with him but instead witnessed the entire flight and crash. Unfortunately, so did Kerns’ mother who was watching from the porch of their house.
Extent
0.4 Cubic Feet One Box
Restrictions
Some copyright may be reserved. Consult with the library director for more information.
Availability
The collection is open to researchers by appointment.