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'ALOFT' Soars With History of Bay County Aeronautics

Gerry Higgs' New Book Documents Important Events, People

April 22, 2003       Leave a Comment
By: Dave Rogers

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Cover of 'ALOFT' features Henry Dora in Lionel DeRemer's Wright-B "Pusher" acquired from the Wrights

Author Geraldine T. Higgs has made a significant contribution to the documentation of history in Bay County with her works, especially her new book "ALOFT."

The subtitles: "Bay County Michigan Pioneer Flyers, Flights & Airfields 1912-1962," and "Nine Years After Kitty Hawk Bay County Takes to the Sky" sum up the comprehensive content of this 220 page hardcover book.

Appropriately, the local book has been published just as the world celebrates the centennial of flight of Wilbur and Orville Wright at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, in 1903. The reader can almost feel history jumping off the cover, featuring a closeup photo of an early Wright craft piloted by Bay City's own Henry Dora, looking very much like one of the Wrights on that historicday 100 years ago.

The vignettes of local figures, from pioneer aviators Lionel DeRemer and Henry Dora of the early 1910s to the flamboyant Hulda Mueller of the 1930s and ex-World War II pilot Harry Smiley, airport manager 1977-1990, arepriceless.

The book contains many stories which otherwise would be lost to history, including the fact that the first aerial bomb was dropped by a Bay Cityan, U.S. Army Lt. Myron Crissey, in 1911. Eddie Stinson's 1929 attempt to break the world record for remaining aloft without refueling, launched from the ice of Saginaw Bay, and the tales of Casey Jones, pioneer flying doctor, are precious memories preserved.

And the recounting of financier James E. Davidson's 1931 emergency flight toDetroit to bring back $1 million in cash, saving a major local bank from closing, is monumental proof of the power of flight in the early days.

The stories are complemented by many historic photos, bringing home the multi-faceted story of our community's extensive and important involvement with flight.

The book is available at the Historical Museum of Bay County. Cost is $20 and well worth it for those interested in local history or the history of aeronautics.

EDITOR'S NOTE: In conjunction with the 100th anniversary of flight, Kenneth Thomas, a member of the Valley Aero Club at James Clements Airport, in cooperation with author Geraldine T. Higgs, Dave Rogers of the Tri-County News Service ( and BAY3TV, has produced an 18 minute documentary video about Bay County's role in flight through the years.

The video includes several segments from old film shot at the airport and in the area, including rare footage of the first air mail service arriving here and being greeted by industrialist William Clements.

The video currently is being shown to service clubs and organizations in the community and will be aired on BAY3TV in December during the actual anniversary of the first flight by the Wright Brothers in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

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Dave Rogers

Dave Rogers is a former editorial writer for the Bay City Times and a widely read,
respected journalist/writer in and around Bay City.
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