#lookback: Riverton was the location of the first airplane flight in Wyoming’s history

A series where we take a #lookback at the stories and history of our community, brought to you by Mick Pryor, Financial Advisor with Edward Jones.

In response to July being proclaimed General Aviation Appreciation Month by Riverton Mayor Lars Baker the Fremont County Museums present the first aviation flight in the state of Wyoming. It was August 15, 1911 and the citizens of Riverton and crowds from neighboring towns were ready to celebrate their fifth year of the town’s anniversary with Wild West sports and a display of aerial navigation. This display of aerial navigation was not only a first for Riverton and her citizens but also for the state of Wyoming. This event was to be conducted by William S. Adams and Mr. Holmes. Adams was a pioneer of Riverton, was one of the surveyors who platted out the town; he also built the first garage in Riverton, and was its first auto distributor.

W.S. Adams had previously been to St. Louis and spent six months there learning to fly. When he returned to Riverton he had a plane shipped to Riverton where it was assembled. The plane that Adams purchased and learned to fly was a Benoist. The Benoist aircraft was created by Thomas W. Benoist, who also founded the Aeronautic Supply Co., the first supplier of aircraft parts in 1908.

The first run of the aerial navigation was conducted by W.S. Adams. According to the Riverton Republican, “the big Benoist machine was wheeled before the anxious crowds in the grand stand. A minutes inspection and with W.S. Adams at the wheel the giant bird sped off over the course only to raise gracefully at the end of a hundred yard run and soar off at a height of perhaps fifty feet for a quarter of a mile.” It was a scene that the crowd would not likely forget.

Adams conducted another flight that same day with the same success. The second day a second pilot by the name of Holmes completed an aerial flight despite the rainy weather that occurred earlier that afternoon. Holmes completed a flight of four and a half miles and an average height of one hundred and twenty-five feet and had executed for the first time in this altitude a figure eight, the most difficult feat known to the aviation world.

Next up for the Fremont County Museums

July 24th, 5:30pmm at the Riverton Museum, “Moving Walls” Movie Screening

Wyoming Community Bank Discovery Speakers Series

July 24th, 9-Noon at the Dubois Museum, “Introduction to Birding”

Children’s Exploration Series

July 26th, 7pm at the Pioneer Museum, “Digging Up Dubois: Fossils in the Late Triassic Period”

Wyoming Community Bank Discovery Speakers Series

July 28th, 11-2pm at the Dubois Museum, “Frontier Fest”

The Dubois Museum, the Pioneer Museum in Lander and the Riverton Museum work extremely hard to provide programs, care for the facilities, create exhibits and care for the thousands of artifacts and archival documents in the collections of the museums. In order to consistently accomplish these objectives the museums are more reliant than ever on donations from the private sector. Please make your tax deductible contribution to be used specifically for the benefit of the museum of your choosing by sending a check to Fremont County Museums 450 N 2nd Rm 320 or taking it directly to the museum you choose to support.