Louis Paulhan, King of the Air, Louis Paulhan was literally "on top of the world". At the Los Angeles Air Meet he had shattered the world altitude record by soaring to 4,165 feet above sea level, surpassing his own prior world record of about 1900 feet, established the previous month in Europe. Paulhan had sailed higher than any man on earth in a "heavier-than-air machine", and was awarded $10,000 in prize money and the title "King of the Air" for his efforts.
Louis Paulhan was literally "on top of the world". At the Los Angeles Air Meet he had shattered the world altitude record by soaring to 4,165 feet above sea level, surpassing his own prior world record of about 1900 feet, established the previous month in Europe. Paulhan had sailed higher than any man on earth in a "heavier-than-air machine", and was awarded $10,000 in prize money and the title "King of the Air" for his efforts.
While enroute to Salt Lake City aboard the Oregon Short Line Railway, Louis must have reflected upon the hero status he had achieved at age 26. How did a young Frenchman who had been flying no longer than seven months become more well-received than American bird-men in their own homeland?
Louis Paulhan had taught himself how to fly in France after purchasing a Voisin aircraft in July of 1909. He received his license from the French Aero Club, and immediately entered the Rheims Air Show in August 1909. It was here that the little Frenchman exhibited both his natural flying skills and what his peers would later call recklessness.
Louis was not tall and had a boyish appearance that made him seem even younger than 26, and his charming and cheerful personality made him an instant favorite with the media and the crowds. At the Rheims Air Meet he was described as daring, plucky, dashing, and reckless -- the perfect airshow aviator. Although his fourth-place finish at Rheims established his aviation talents, his last flight also gave credence to the accusations of recklessness.
Louis had taken off in his Bleriot monoplane head-on into the path of an aircraft flown by Leon de la Grange, and Paulhan was forced to dive toward the ground to avoid a collision. Louis was too low, however, and his wingtip struck the earth causing the aircraft to cartwheel in a crack-up that ejected the "King of the Air": from his perch. Louis was thrown clear of the wreckage and walked away with only a gashed nose and a bruised ego. La Grange, lucky in this incident, was killed five months later when a wing detached from his aircraft inflight.
Following his Rheims escapades, Paulhan was invited to the Los Angeles Air Meet in January 1910. He sailed to New York with his wife, two student pilots named Didier Masson and Charles Miscarol, the family French poodle, and a few mechanics.
When the great aviator set foot in America, he was immediately served with an injunction resulting from the Wright brothers' lawsuit for patent infringement. Louis, who later described the Wrights as "men of prey", ignored the New York Court Order and shipped his machines from New York to California. Paulhan had brought with him four aircraft, two Farman biplanes and two Bleriot monoplanes, which he had learned to fly only three days before crating them for shipment to America.
At the Los Angeles Air Meet, Paulhan's informal style and risk-taking promptly earned him the admiration of the spectators and favoritism of the press. One of his early antics was to take-off from behind the hangar-tents while other aviators were performing, and buzz the grandstand in a "surprise attack" that left onlookers gasping and fellow aviators angry.
Paulhan once swooped in front of Glenn Curtiss, causing Curtiss to nearly lose control of his machine in the propwash, and later Paulhan buzzed ranches and farmers on a daring cross-country flight to the ocean and back. The French aviator was a real pain to his opponents. They complained to no avail about Louis, but was it the safety of themselves and the crowd that concerned them, or was it jealousy of Paulhan's showmanship? No doubt the crowds loved the little daredevil and his risky stunts much more then the droning conservatism of the other aviators.
Prior to his arrival in Los Angeles, Paulhan had stated he had heard "that the only things in California more beautiful than the flowers are the women", resulting in the dashing Frenchman being inundated with requests from ladies seeking the chance to fly with him. Mrs. Paulhan, who had flown with her husband several times, remained close to him always while in America. Probably a coincidence.
Louis Paulhan did not care what others thought, and his non-flying time was spent with his wife. He was sometimes found teaching tricks to his French poodle in the hanger between flights, and once attempted to sneak out of the tent to avoid a Ladies Club group.
The best example of Paulhan's independence was at a Los Angeles Society Dinner scheduled on his behalf. As the eighty selected guests awaited his arrival, Paulhan was dining with friends and family elsewhere. When asked why he had snubbed the gathering, Louis stated that he had avoided an appearance because his traveling companions had not been invited. Friends and family obviously meant more to Paulhan than the egos of socialites and competitors.
Following a grand parade in Los Angeles that included Ezra Meeker, a famous Oregon Train wagon train pioneer, the French entourage headed for San Francisco for a three-day exhibition. Paulhan performed before a crowd of about 200,000 people on January 24, and after his last flight on the January 26, shipped his aircraft by train to Salt Lake City. When the Oregon Short Line delivered Louis Paulhan to Utah on January 29, he was welcomed by the Deseret News headlines proclaiming that the "Air King is Here to Fly."
Prior to Louis Paulhan's arrival in Salt Lake City, several weeks of negotiations and preparation had taken place. Sponsoring an Aviation Meet was much more complex than simply inviting a pilot to perform an aerial demonstration for a few hours, and organizing the event required signed contracts, transportation arrangements, advertising, a suitable location, security needs, and money concerns about Utah's weather in January were real, as well as such problems as crowd control and housing for visiting tourists. The handling of these preparatory matters required people of vision and responsibility, and Salt Lake City was fortunate in having such a strong group of people available.
Following the August 1909 Air Meet in France, Salt Lake City began to entertain the idea of hosting an aviation meet. The Commercial Club, forerunner of the Chamber of Commerce, realized that Salt Lake City offered the aviators safety by flying over the Great Salt Lake, and that a successful flight would demonstrate to the world the feasibility of aeroplanes at higher elevation. Commercial Club members began their efforts in January 1910, making inquiries to Louis Paulhan's French aviation team at the Los Angeles Air Meet.
Joseph E. Caine, Secretary of the Commercial Club, negotiated by telegraph with Edwin Cleary, manager of the French contingent. Cleary found an open date on the calendar, as Paulhan had no obligations until the mid-February Mardi Gras in New Orleans, and offered to fly in Salt Lake City if guaranteed a mere $50,000.
Commercial Club President Joy H. Johnson politely declined the deal, and announced to the Utah press that this was not the right time for an airshow, and that it would be rescheduled for Pioneer Day in July when the weather was more dependable, an effort would be made to acquire the Wright brothers and Glenn Curtiss. Negotiations were terminated for a week, until the French contacted the Commercial Club with a new offer.
Cleary telegraphed Caine, dropping the $50,000 demand, and promised a two-day exhibition on January 29 and 30, if a field to fly on and a "reasonable" gate receipt were guaranteed. Cleary also asked for police protection and the support of the local press in advertising the event.
A contract was drawn and signed on January 24, and the French team Assistant Manager L. A. Monterey was dispatched from Los Angeles to Salt Lake City to begin coordinating the needs of the airmen. Meanwhile, the Commercial Club leaders began enlisting the support of local businessman and surrounding civic organizations, such as the Weber Club in Ogden and the Provo Commercial Club.
Money was needed to prepare the field, pay the necessary workers, cover printing costs, etc., and the Commercial Club had no intention of shouldering all of the risks alone. Similar to today's Olympic bids by cities of the world, there was no guarantee of a favorable financial outcome.
As a final negotiation point, the Club requested that the French team not fly on Sunday, but rather on Saturday and Monday. Cleary responded that the French team schedule did not allow for an extra day in Salt Lake City due to contract obligations in the East. The contract was already signed, so the Commercial Club dropped the request and printed 10,000 advertising posters for the Saturday/Sunday event, forwarding them to every major city in the state.
Paulhan paid $800 to ship his airplanes by freight train to Salt Lake City, where they would arrive Friday, needing only a few hours for reassembly. Requesting information from the Commercial Club about Salt Lake City's weather, atmospheric conditions, and terrain, Paulhan also mentioned that he would fly for height, endurance, speed, and cross-country records while in Utah, using both of the Farman biplanes and the Bleriot monoplane. The little bird-man set the takeoff time for 2:30 p.m. each day.
Monterey, the French advance man for Paulhan, arrived in Salt Lake City Thursday afternoon and immediately went to the Fairgrounds to assist in the preparations of the airfield. An enclosed race track offered an ideal location, accommodating huge crowds and providing excellent railway service to downtown Salt Lake City. Governor William Spry had selected the Fairgrounds site rather than the University of Utah's Cummings Field due to size and accessibility considerations.
State Fair Association President J. S. McDonald and Commercial Club member Charles A. Quigley were responsible for adapting the race track area to an aviation field. They first made an 800-yard straightaway area for takeoffs and landings, and put down a few hundred yards of cinders on one end to assure a dry starting area. After realizing that one entire wall of the livestock exhibition building would have to be removed to accommodate the aircraft as a hangar, it was decided to use an 80' by 140' tent to shelter the machines from the weather. Field preparations were completed, and the crowd of spectators were guaranteed a great view from anywhere in the stands.
Security for the aircraft, aviators, and the crowd was provided by the city. Chief of Police Samuel Barlow would provide men to patrol the gates, the hangers, and the grandstand, keeping the crowd orderly and not allowing anyone to enter the enclosed race track area. Barlow announced he would intermingle plain-clothes officers within the crowd, and provide protection for the aircraft every minute of the French Team's stay in Salt Lake City. Responsibility for security within the race track area was given to Lt. John Waterman of the U. S. Army Fifteenth Infantry from Fort Douglas, who promised to provide a detachment of twenty mounted cavalrymen to patrol the area. Such security was necessary to prevent spectators from running onto the field and causing injury to themselves or the aviators.
Advertising was done primarily in the Intermountain area through the use of posters distributed by the railroad companies along their stops. The railroads offered special rates to and from Salt Lake City by charging half-fare for round trip tickets Friday through Monday. The Utah Light and Railway Company also reduced the street car rates, and Manager J. S. Wells claimed the cars could run as close as thirty seconds apart to handle the crowd.
Media coverage was non-stop by the Deseret News and Salt Lake Tribune newspapers, both of which ran articles about Paulhan, and sold discount coupons printed inside the newspaper. Editorials and cartoons added to the advertising hype all of which resulted in the Commercial Club being swamped with long-distance calls and mail-order ticket requests from as far away as Butte, Montana. Not only were adults targeted by this campaign, but the promoters made a call for the youth of Utah to see "the exhibit by pioneers of aerial locomotion."
A Salt Lake Tribune editorial three days before the meet stated, "the meet will be something entirely novel to all of us here, and it will be an impressive lesson of the power of man to overcome the puzzling difficulties of conquering natural conditions." As for Paulhan, the Tribune gushed "these Frenchmen do the thing up handsomely... they are nervy, daring, and take a prideful zest in their own successful accomplishments." Paulhan's Agent Monterey told the Salt Lake Tribune, "The sight of a Farman biplane flying through the air with the whirr of the propeller almost obliterated by the roar of the engine is so far beyond the conception of the human mind as to afford the thrilling and awe-inspiring exhibition that has ever been devised by man".
The Deseret New felt that the meet "would be far better advertisement for our city then horse races and prize fights," and as for Paulhan's height record, "the true test of progress in not in the attainment of altitude but in duration of flight and carrying capacity."
Tickets were sold for fifty cents if purchased at one of the seventeen Salt Lake City Drug Stores using the newspaper coupon, or for one dollar at the Fairgrounds gate. This plan, used at the Los Angeles Meet, prevented delays at the gate on the day of the event. James E. Jennings of the Commercial Club was in charge of the advance ticket sales, with the French Manager Cleary handling the window receipts at the gate. A special ticket sale was established for "automobile parties" who could park in a designated area and have an excellent view of the flights.
One hundred thousand tickets were printed for the two-day event, and by noon Friday, over 40,000 had been sold. Over 50,000 visitors from outside the city were expected to come watch the airshow. Although there was no possibility for the Commercial Club making a profit, the hopes were that enough tickets would be sold to cover most of the expenses.
Secretary Caine stated, "We have been told that it was a 'nervy' proposition to think of getting an aviation meet for Utah, but the interest already shown indicates that it was a case of doing the right thing at the right time." Everyone on the street knew that the eyes of the world were upon Salt Lake City and Paulhan's performance.
By Saturday morning, the Commercial Club had done all in its power to prepare the city for the big event. Secretary Caine saw it as one of the greatest educational exhibits ever planned in the Intermountain West, and a big advancement for the State of Utah. It would certainly be the largest crowd ever to attend a winter event in Salt Lake City, with farmers and ranchers around the region able to leave their farms at this time of year for a little recreation in the city.
The Bingham and Garfield smelters closed to allow the employees to attend, as did many other area businesses, and the Governors of the adjoining states were also present. As the hotels filled on the eve of the exhibition, late arrivals were turned away to join in the scramble for lodging.
Even the weatherman was optimistic. A. H. Thiessen, Section Director of the local weather station, "scanned the horizon with powerful glasses" for several days. Making calls to cities throughout the West for advice, he predicted "the finest sort of weather for the meet." The Salt Lake Tribune promised that if the weatherman bought good weather for the weekend, citizens would forgive him for his past errors.
Expectations were high for Utahns of Friday night, with only a few hours before Louis Paulhan made history. Many in the crowd expected to see Paulhan fly, many expected an accident to occur, and some would never believe man could fly at all until they witnessed it for themselves. Whatever they expected to see, the event would be artistic yet dangerous, historical yet futuristic, exciting yet educational.
Louis Paulhan, however, knew of the problems facing him in Salt Lake City. In public, Paulhan had told the Commercial Club that he "did not think the altitude of Salt Lake City would interfere with a height record attempt," and that he "planned to look over all your mountains." In private, Paulhan knew that all previous heavier-than-air machine flights throughout the world had been accomplished at or near sea level locations, and that just to takeoff at the Fairgrounds on Saturday would require a new world altitude record for flight above sea level.
The current world record, Paulhan's own, was 4,165 feet above sea level... the elevation of Salt Lake City Fairgrounds was about 4,300 feet Paulhan had reason to be concerned about flying in the Utah air, but was "very much excited" to give his machine a try. Scientists seeking to discover more about the influence of the "rarefied" atmosphere at higher altitudes upon the power of a heavier-than-air machine sent telegrams of inquiry to the Commercial Club, and then awaited the results.
Noting the problems of elevation, the Salt Lake Tribune predicted the possibility that Paulhan's first attempt at such a flight "may result disastrously," but also noted that this possibility was a major crowd-drawing event.
The Deseret News emphasized that the weather would determine what actually happened, and that the wind was the most feared factor due to unknown "currents and eddies in the atmosphere." When asked about the sensation of flying, Paulhan remarked, "This matter of flying through the air is a peculiar thing. The atmosphere is just like a body of water which is constantly in motion. There are all sorts of currents, eddies, whirlpools, and every one of them has an effect upon a machine. A steady wind does not have so much effect for we can combat it, and it is not treacherous. Of course, a very strong wind is hard to buck against. It is not the air of the open country which is so bad, but when you get flying above a city with the myriad of hot air funnels which are bored upward by chimney currents, the hundred and one disturbances which make the air a veritable maelstrom, then it is that the aviator must watch every moment of his machine. It is immeasurably harder to navigate above a city, particularly if the height is not very great. That is why so few flights are made over the great cities. The height to which an airship may go is only limited by the power that he can carry with him, of course, barring accidents."
As Saturday morning dawned in the Salt Lake Valley, Commercial Club members could be proud of their efforts in assembling the great contest. Louis Paulhan arrived with his wife and entourage at nine o'clock, and they were escorted to the Knutsford Hotel where Paulhan rested for a few hours. The three aircraft, under the care of French pilots Miscarol and Masson, arrived after Paulhan and were immediately switched to the Fairgrounds where assembly was begun. At noon Saturday, January 29, the gates of the Fairgrounds would open to the public, and thousands of ticket-holders would find out if the King of the Air could really fly.
Saturday afternoon, January 29, 1910, was clear and sunny. Temperature had climbed above the freezing mark, and a light breeze was blowing. One official termed it "an ideal seasonal production." Everyone was excited to watch the Frenchman test his skills against the air.
An immense throng of thousands jammed the intersection of First South and Main Street in Salt Lake City, waiting in line to climb aboard the Utah Light and Railway Co. streetcars that would transport them to the Fairgrounds on North Temple Between 9th and 14th West Streets. With business offices closing early, and the street cars running one minute apart, the Fairgrounds quickly became "one vast enclosure of people," craning their necks and speaking of nothing but aviation.
When the scheduled start time of 2:30 p.m. passed, word spread through the excited crowd that Paulhan would be delayed. The aviator's aircraft had arrived late, and there was not enough time to assemble all of them. It was decided to construct only the Farman biplane with its 38-horsepower engine, and the people waited patiently as the mechanics labored over the delicate machinery and made final adjustments.
Still the delay continued, and by 4 p.m. the ticket-holders that had sat in the cold for several hours became impatient. As soon as the Farman was ready to fly, someone noticed that there was no gasoline for the engine! Jennings, of the Commercial Club, dashed into town and acquired the best quality gasoline available and returned to the Fairgrounds. Earlier in the week, French Assistant Manager Monterey had ordered the special gasoline from a local oil distribution agency, which had promptly forgot the delivery.
Fueled and ready for its master, the Farman biplane had a wingspread of thirty-eight feet, weighed twelve hundred pounds, and was powered by a 38-horsepower engine capable of achieving speeds of thirty-five miles per hour. Ailerons were individually operated on the Farman, and a unique feature was the pusher-type propeller located in front of the engine rather than the most common method of placing it further toward the rear of the aircraft. Along with normal landing gear, the Farman had rear skids that dragged the ground during a hard landing, reducing excess speed. Paulhan had flown this Farman to fame and glory in Los Angeles.
As the engine was started on the big craft, a mighty roar went up from the crowd, and as Louis Paulhan stepped into the pilot's seat the applause was "deafening." Paulhan carefully checked the controls, buttoned his kid gloves, and began his takeoff roll west across the infield of the race track. Moving swiftly across the snow, the biplane began to bounce as it made an effort to become airborne. Paulhan realized at some point in the 400-yard dash that he could not clear the four-foot track fence, and "brought the aeroplane to a rather sudden stop." The wildly cheering crowd became a mumbling mass as Paulhan, the King of the Air, had failed in his first attempt. Louis turned the machine around and taxied back to the starting area.
Several hundred persons departed the Fairgrounds after Paulhan's failure, which came shortly before 5 p.m., but within ten minutes the French dare-devil was ready again. Mrs. Paulhan, having flown many times with her husband, hugged her dog closer and watched intently as Louis whirled into place. Paulhan once again roared down the "getaway" and tilted the forward elevator of the machine.
Thousands of fans shouted as Paulhan lifted the struggling Farman toward the sky and cleared the four-foot fences, turning the aeroplane in a northwest direction. But Paulhan could achieve no more height than about fifteen feet, and deciding he could not clear the obstructions ahead, he set the aircraft down quickly outside of the race track. Paulhan walked hurriedly to the aviation tent to his waiting wife, where he refused to speak with reporters, and when his biplane was safely stored in the hangar, the Paulhans returned to the Knutsford Hotel by automobile. Louis Paulhan was through for the day.
At the Fairgrounds, over a thousand persons mobbed the Farman biplane, as the crew attempted to return it to the hangar, and the French mechanics "gave vent to their imprecations in a foreign tongue." A police escort was necessary to keep the curious spectators away until the Farman was stored. Fifteen thousand people had shivered in the January cold for several hours, awaiting the marvels of aviation.
All they had seen was the famous Louis Paulhan leap two fences in less than a minute. Many expressed their disappointment openly, and the crowd that had cheered in good-natured optimism now indulged in rather rude comments. Some demanded their money back, while others asked for "rain checks," feeling they had been "stung" by the French air team. Fortunately the evening was turning quite cold, and the crowd dispersed rapidly via the railway service, the grumbling assuredly lessening when they were back in their warm homes.
The Salt Lake Tribune noted that the real winners at the aviation meet were the hot dog vendors and other refreshment stands, who were not disappointed at all. Regardless of what had happened on that wintry day in 1910, Salt Lake City had seen the flight of its first airplane, and Louis Paulhan had once again reached an altitude higher than any man-bird in the world.
Why had Paulhan failed that first day? Aeroplanes had existed only seven years when Paulhan made his attempt in Salt Lake City, and there was a considerable lack of knowledge about many elements. Paulhan's major problem was a lack of power for the thinner air at high elevation. The 38-hoursepower Farman biplane was simply inadequate for the task. Also, in the rush to get airborne following the lengthy delay, Paulhan had not allowed the engine to warm-up properly for a winter flight, and the engine oil had thickened creating a lubrication problem. Finally, Paulhan had requested an 800-yard straightaway, and was given a 400-yard snow covered takeoff strip surrounded by fences. Aviation was still in the experimental stages, and Paulhan was lucky to have survived that first attempt at flight in "rarefied air."
Paulhan was embarrassed by his failure, and knew that he had to succeed on Sunday to save face. Several lessons had been learned during that brief attempt, and the Frenchman would make appropriate changes. Tomorrow's demonstration would be made in the other Farman biplane brought by Paulhan, which had a fifty horsepower Gnome rotary engine, a seven cylinder motor that rotated with the propeller. Warm-up time for the engine oil would be allowed, hopefully solving the lubrication problem.
Another realization of Paulhan's was that any passenger-carrying attempts were unthinkable. Paulhan had carried his wife and both Miscarol and Masson at Los Angeles, and had contemplated carrying Lt. Alva Lee of Fort Douglas, the smallest officer in the U.S. Army. But Saturday's failure canceled any thoughts in that regard. Miscarol and Masson had been training as pilots in the Bleriot machine, a single engine monoplane, and plans to have them fly at Salt Lake City would be canceled as well.
Miscarol had crashed one of the two Bleriots that Paulhan had taken to Los Angeles, and it was not worth the risk after Paulhan's failure. This was no reflection on the abilities of the two French pilots for Miscarol had previously circled the Eiffel Tower in Paris, and Masson would remain in America to become a very respected aviator.
Sunday, January 30, 1910 was another beautiful day for flying in Utah. Clouds were few and the wind almost nil, with the temperature warmer than for the previous day's exhibition. Once again the people gathered to see Louis Paulhan and his heavier-then-air machine battle the "rare air" of Salt Lake City, hoping that today's attempts would surpass the questionable "flight" of Saturday.
This time the crowd included con artists, selling folded aviation programs and rolled aviation banners that when unfurled were revealed to be leftover items from the Los Angeles Air Meet earlier in the month. However, most of the eight to ten thousand aviation enthusiasts had packed the Fairgrounds to see the eminent Son of France, and many of the curious were outside the Fairgrounds on telephone and telegraph poles, on housetops, in trees, and other good vantage points.
Paulhan approached the big Farman biplane at about 3:30 p.m., and carefully inspected the machine. Climbing into the wooden seat, Paulhan had a determined look about him that one reporter described as showing that this time "there would be a flight or else an injured aviator and wrecked biplane." Several times the nervy Frenchman attempted to start the engine to no avail, but on the fourth attempt the motor roared to life. Louis took one last look around the field, and a 3:37 p.m., signaled his mechanics to release their grip on the powerful Farman.
Paulhan roared across the field with increasing speed, but as he neared the track fence, a groan of disappointment went up from the crowd as some turned their heads to avoid watching the aviator ram into the structure. When only fifty feet from the fence, Paulhan tilted the forward planes and the big wood and fabric Farman sailed upward into the air. Louis cleared the track fence and climbed steadily to about 150 feet, heading west across the Jordan River at a speed in excess of twenty miles per hour. The crowd was ecstatic, but quieted down when Louis went out of sight behind some trees to the west of the grandstand.
Many worried that the aviator had crashed, but once again Paulhan, conqueror of the air, surprised them by climbing into view. Remaining west of the Jordan River for safety, the skillful bird-man made trips north and south climbing to 300 feet and performed dipping and turning maneuvers. A flock of sparrows followed the Farman at a distance, while on the ground startled horses raced about in the pastures. Paulhan attempted to climb higher and found be could not do so in the weighty 50 horsepower Farman, but to the thousands of spectators who had only read or heard of aeroplanes, there was nothing but praise and wonderment for the much admired aviator.
Completing his aerial demonstration, Paulhan still had one dare-devil trick in reserve. Paulhan headed east toward the race track, and dropped the Farman biplane to only 50 feet above the ground. Riding the aircraft as if it were alive, Paulhan passed directly over the heads of the grandstand spectators, letting them feel the wind from the propeller as the big white bird with the yellow legs soared overhead.
For many in the crowd, this was to be the greatest thrill of their lives. Paulhan turned north, then west over the track waving a warning to the crowd that he was about to land, resulting in a mad scramble of about a thousand people who had wandered onto the field. Louis made a half circle turn and set the airplane down lightly, rolling along for about one hundred feet until the Farman stopped. The crowd applauded and cheered for the next five minutes... Louis Paulhan was still King of the Air.
The little Frenchman remained in the seat of the Farman wiping frozen tears from his eyes, then surveyed the aerocraft before walking quietly to his aviation tent, and later returning to his wife at the hotel. Mrs. Paulhan had chosen not to attend the Sunday program, after the near-crashes of the day before. When asked why he did not perform directly over the crowd, Paulhan explained, "If the machine breaks out there, it is only myself and the machine. If it breaks over the people, who can tell?"
Louis Paulhan had set a new world altitude record in Salt Lake City, climbing to 4,600 feet, edging his own record of 4,160 feet. Commercial Club member Joseph Caine noted that every major city around the world would carry the news of the Utah event. While Paulhan felt disappointed at the altitude he had achieved, he hoped to return some day with a lighter, more powerful aircraft. "I am disappointed because I couldn't rise to a greater height, but the heavy biplane could not soar higher in this rarefied atmosphere. I hope to come back some day with a lighter machine and do some real high flying. My engine behaved perfectly and I had no difficulty at all except in getting away, The fairway was too short, but the powerful engine responded nicely and I cleared the fences and stable buildings with plenty of room to spare. The big crowd was extremely orderly and helped me by giving me plenty of room in which to make my descent. It is my constant fear that I may injure someone, but there was no danger Sunday. The biplalne I used Sunday was of the same type I had Saturday, but it was more substantial and I had a 50 horsepower engine instead of the 38 horsepower affair I used in my first attempts."
Paulhan was the only person disappointed, however, as the crowd was thoroughly satisfied at having seen an aeroplane fly. He told the press, "To attain any great height in this atmosphere, a machine of great lightness and with the most powerful machine possible must be used, and the flights must be made in warm weather. The lubrication does not work well in the cold. You must all remember that flying in heavier-then-air machines is but in its swaddling clothes and there are many things which we have not as yet been able to combat. But this has been the fate with all great inventions. We will conquer everything if you only have the patience and give us time. I am satisfied that within the next eight or ten months machines will be built that can successfully operate to a height of several thousand feet in this city".
The Salt Lake Tribune observed that a man of less courage, skill, and confidence would probably not have succeeded. The Deseret News pointed out that Saturday's failure was not a big deal, considering that in San Francisco it took three days of failures before he flew.
For Louis Paulhan, the Salt Lake City Meet was over, and the air machines were immediately dismantled to be shipped to the next site. Of the original asking price of $50,000, the French team left town with only about $3,000 after their bills were paid. Paulhan thanked everyone for their help, and left Salt Lake City for Denver where he was to perform on Wednesday, then on to New Orleans for Mardi Gras.
The Frenchman was more careful in his pre-show boasts this time, having faced the difficulties of flying at high elevation. Paulhan would make no claims of new records to be made in Denver, and in fact while there Paulhan crashed into a fence throwing himself from the aircraft and injuring several spectators. He did, however, successfully fly at Denver and thus set a new world record, allowing Salt Lake City only four days to enjoy their claim to fame.
Paulhan would continue to fly exhibitions until mid-March, when the Wright brothers' legal actions caused him to leave the United States and return to France. Louis Paulhan won ten thousand English pounds in an air race from Manchester to London in April, 1910, and continued the "King of the Air."