01 August 2017

Anna Case Takes Flight

Metropolitan Opera soprano and concert star Anna Case spent the summer of 1919 at her "country home" Brevoort Farm in Mamaroneck, New York. She hosted a widely publicized garden party for World War I wounded veterans who were recuperating in nearby hospitals in July, but her greatest adventure came in August.


Major Sidney E. Parker and Anna Case - August 11, 1919
Now that she was a movie star - her first, and only, feature film The Hidden Truth having debuted at the beginning of the year - it was high time for a movie-star-worthy escapade. British RAF Major Sidney E. Parker was planning an air trip from New York to New Orleans via the Hudson River, Great Lakes, and Mississippi River piloting a Curtiss-Seagull Flying Boat. He planned to touch down near the Mamaroneck Yacht Club to pick up the mechanic that would be accompanying him on his trip - and somehow ended up with an extra passenger! 



A Curtiss-Seagull Flying Boat circa 1919
I will let Anna Case tell it in her own words as printed in the August 21, 1919 issue of the trade magazine The Musical Courier:

Well, it was wonderful, just wonderful! Afraid? No, not a bit of it. At any rate, it came in such a hurry that I had not time to think about any fear. The original plan was altered, so I thought the flight was off for the present, then the bicycle policeman came rushing down the lawn, shouting 'There is a chap up in the air looking for you; he was down in front of the Yacht Club asking where he could find you. I told him I would run up and tell you and fire my revolver so he would know where to come down.' In a few minutes the plane was on the water a short distance from shore; I hurried out in my canoe and climbed in. Up and on we went, down the Sound, across New York and up the Hudson, flying most of the time 2,000 feet up. It was simply glorious to see the great city, the Hudson, the Palisades, from above. You hardly realize that you are thousands of feet in the air. The only trifling uncomfortable feeling is when the machine makes a turn; that gives a sensation akin to seasickness. There were three in the plane, Major Parker, his mechanic and myself. The noise of the propeller is terrific and you cannot talk; if you want to say anything you must write a note. I was dressed as I am now, [ordinary street dress] with the addition of a flyer's cap. I surely will go up again if I have the chance.



Anna Case flew as far as Poughkeepsie, where the trio landed and had dinner. Miss Case then caught the 8:45 train back to New York and was in her bed at Brevoort Farm by midnight!

1919 Publicity Photo

In later years Anna Case also spoke of another flight she took in an early machine where the nose went straight down upon landing and they wound up propeller down in a farmer's field!


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