A. Roy Knabenshue

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Augustus Roy Knabenshue
Frank T. Coffyn, A. Roy Knabenshue, and Walter Brookin (July 1910).jpg
From left to right are: Frank Trenholm Coffyn; Roy Knabenshue; and Walter Brookins in Atlantic City in 1910
Born(1875-07-15)July 15, 1875
DiedMarch 6, 1960(1960-03-06) (aged 84)
Resting place Portal of the Folded Wings

Augustus Roy Knabenshue (July 15, 1875 – March 6, 1960) was an American aeronautical engineer and aviator. [1]


Film shot by Knabenshue of Chicago
Postcard image from 1905, captioned Knabenshue and his air ship
Roy Knabenshue on a dirigible, approximately 1905
Roy Knabenshue on a dirigible, approximately 1905

Knabenshue World War I draft registration

First Successful Flight of the Air Ship, Knabenshue, Toledo, Ohio, 1900s
First Successful Flight of the Air Ship, Knabenshue, Toledo, Ohio, 1900s

He was born on July 15, 1875, in Lancaster, Ohio, the son of Salome Matlack and Samuel S. Knabenshue. Samuel Knabenshue, an educator and political writer for the Toledo Blade for many years, served as U.S. consul in Belfast, Ireland, from 1905 to 1909 and as consul general in Tianjin, China, from 1909 to 1914. [2] In 1904, at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, Roy Knabenshue piloted Thomas Scott Baldwin's California Arrow dirigible to a height of 2,000 feet (610 m) and was able to return to the takeoff point. [3]

He was the first to make a dirigible flight over New York City in 1905. [4] In 1913 he built the first passenger dirigible in America: White City.

He performed barnstorming and worked as the general manager of the Wright Exhibition Team. From 1933 to 1944 he worked for the National Park Service and then worked for a Los Angeles, California, firm reconditioning used aircraft.

In 1958 he had a stroke. He had a second stroke at his home at a trailer park in Arcadia, California, on February 21, 1960. He died on March 6, 1960, at the Evergreen Sanitarium in Temple City, California. [1]

Interment and services were held March 9, 1960, at the Portal of the Folded Wings in Valhalla Memorial Park Cemetery in North Hollywood, California.


  1. ^ a b "First Flier in U. S. to Pilot Lighter-Than-Air Craft Dies". The New York Times. March 7, 1960. Retrieved 2011-11-14. Roy Knabenshue, an aviation pioneer who was the first man to fly a powered lighter-than air craft in the United States died today of a stroke in ...
  2. ^ Carroll, Francis M. (2005). The American Presence in Ulster: A Diplomatic History, 1796-1996. Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press. pp. 109–110.
  3. ^ "Dirigible Anniversary". The New York Times. October 28, 1944. Retrieved 2011-11-14. Forty years ago this week the first successful flight of a dirigible airship in this country was made. A. Roy Knabenshue took off from the aeronautic concourse of the St. Louis World's Fair grounds in Capt. Thomas Scott Baldwin's "California Arrow," and after a flight of one hour and thirty-one minutes landed eleven miles away in St. Clair County, Ill. ...
  4. ^ "Knabenshue's Airship Sails Over The City. From Central Park To The Times Building And Back. Steered With Perfect Ease. Aeronaut Up 1,000 Feet In The Air. Traveled More Than Two Miles. Thousands Watch Him. Knabenshue's Airship Sails Over The City". The New York Times. August 21, 1905. Retrieved 2011-11-14. New York had its first view yesterday of a real airship or dirigible balloon. The former designation is for the benefit of those who believe that aerial flight will be the principal means of rapid transit in the near future. The second term, however, best suits A. Roy Knabenshue of Toledo, Ohio, the inventor, constructor, and navigator of the machine in which he sailed from Central Park south over the city yesterday afternoon. ...

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