A feature of the Maine Aviation Historical Society
PO Box 2641, Bangor, Maine 04402
207-941-6757 1-877-280-MAHS (in Maine)
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The purpose of this site is to present stories, and photos relating to aviation history in Maine. Enjoy your time at this site and please support the Maine Air Museum.
John Donenjoz, famous early Swiss aviator, had quite an impact on early Maine aviation. Born in Geneva in 1886, John Domenjoz began his flight training at the Bleriot School in Pau in the spring of 1910. He soloed in May and in February 1911 was awarded the 33rd FAI Certificate awarded by Belgium. He remained at Pau as an instructor, his most famous student being Pegoud, the famous early looper.
In 1914, in company with Pegoud and Perreyon, he toured Europe throughout the summer, gaining a reputation as one of the Continent's most successful stunt pilots. He took delivery of a new Bleriot in 1914 and had it packed and shipped it to South America. In his exhibitions there, he thrilled the crowds, flying inverted for as long as one minute and twenty seconds. He thus became known as "Upside Down Domenjoz."
In the fall of 1915 he arrived in New York where he was contracted to give exhibition flights at the Sheepshead Bay racetrack. He left in December on an exhibition tour that carried him as far south as Havana, Cuba and then returned to New York. In the summer of 1916 he toured the Midwest with Baxter Adams, another exhibition pilot. He returned to France late in 1916 to work as a test pilot on SPAD's but was back in the United States in the summer of 1917 for another exhibition tour. He became a civilian instructor in Memphis, Tennessee for the Signal Corps until 1919.
In 1919 he made one final exhibition tour in his belived Bleriot and here the mystery deepens. Supposedly, he put the Bleriot in storage in a Long Island, NY barn and returned to France. Early in 1950, Paul Garber, curator of the National Air Museum, purchased this aircraft and other planes and engines from a museum at Roosevelt Field, NY. In 1978, restoraton on this machine was begun at the Smithsonian, and was completed in 1979, going on exhibit at the new National Air & Space Museum.
The Domenjoz Bleriot
photo courtesy of NASM
In 1929, Mr. Domenjoz was the President of Domenjoz Sail Plane, Inc. He had invented a new type of airplane, the prototype of which was being developed as a glider. The sole propulsion of this glider consisted of a mainsail and a jib sail as used on many sailing boats. The controls of the aircraft as well as the sails were both handled by the pilot. The design of the airframe was based on his belived Bleriot; as a matter of fact, it could be called a Bleriot without an engine, with sails, and shorter landing gear because there was no propeller.
In a special dispatch to the Portland Press Herald published in the April 30, 1929 issue, it is stated that at the present time, he had a plane in storage there. This seems to confirm that the Bleriot was in Houlton in 1929 and was still there in 1932 not on a farm on Long Island, NY. It was eventually sold to an aviation museum at Roosevelt Field, Mineola, Long Island, NY and remained there until purchased by the Smithsonian in 1950.
Returning to his Sail Plane, Mr. Domenjoz had been planing to take his glider to Florida for tests. However, in a conversation with Count Cesare Sabelli, commander of the unsuccessful attempt of the "Roma", a Bellanca sesquiplane, to fly to Rome in 1928 form Old Orchard Beach, Maine, he decided to come to Maine for his tests. He contacted Harry Jones, another pioneer aviator, and received his permission to use his hanger to assemble his glider. It was necessary to have a breeze of at least 25 miles per hour to lift the glider, and between April and June it had achieved 200 feet of altitude towed behind an automobile. In late June of 1929, Domenjoz returned to New York because of the prospect of favorable breeze was slight throughout the summer. He had, however, been present for the flight of the "Yellowbird" to Comilles, Spain and Willams' and Yancy's attempt in the "Green Flash".
Once again, he abandoned his sailing glider in a crate stored on the property of Jane Lake of Old Orchard Beach. In 1965, this crate was transferred to the Owls Head Transportation Musuem where it was restored and is on exhibit today.
A couple of shots of aircraft that have operated in the area over the past year or so. The B-17 was operated out of the Bar Harbor Airport the summer of 2003, and the last two show Air Force One as it left Bangor International Airport in the summer of 2004.
Numbers 1 -5...What these aircraft. Number 6. Where in Maine is this operating aviation radar located?
5. Yes, it's a MIG but which one?
6. Where in Maine is this operating site?
The Domenjoz Sail Plane
photo courtesy of the Owls Head Transportation Musuem