Here, too, they were unconventional. Partnering with a promoter named Fausto Rodriguez, Frank made arrangements for a tour of Central and South America in the fall and winter of 1912. After several successful flights in Venezuela, the tour moved on to Trinidad. On January 23, 1913, Frank made a special exhibition flight for the governor in Port of Spain. As he came in to land, the machine suddenly and unexplainably dove into the ground. The impact threw Boland out of the machine. He was killed instantly.
Joseph and James continued the business. Four months later, a new Boland tailless appeared in Aeronautics magazine. But on the very next page, an article on the new Burgess flying boat pointed the way to the Bolands’ future. Spurred on by investor Inglis Moore Uppercu, a wealthy New York Cadillac dealer, the Boland Company was reorganized as the Aeromarine Plane and Motor Company and focused almost exclusively on flying boats. Frank’s tailless design was left behind.
On April 19, 1912, the Elbridge Engine Company received a letter from another homegrown aeronautical engineer. It began: “A little over a year ago I spent $5,000 for a monoplane and I was unable to make a really successful flight. To cap the climax I had a fall of 75 or 80 feet. Busted physically and financially, I spent the winter making a machine, and a real flier it has proved to be.” It was signed by one of the lucky ones: Clyde Cessna.
Paul Glenshaw is director of the Discovery of Flight Foundation and co-producer of the 2009 documentary Barnstorming.