When Toledoans looked skyward on June 30, 1905, they spotted something never seen here before: a 58-foot-long dirigible made of Japanese silk that floated from the fairgrounds at Dorr Street and Upton Avenue to downtown. Augustus Roy Knabenshue maneuvered the airship 1,000 feet above the ground, steering it to the top of the Spitzer Building. He landed it safely, amid smokestacks and wires, as spectators gazed at the contraption. It was the first powered flight in Ohio and was captured in this archived photo from the Toledo Blade. In the photo the Nasby Building is on the right, and on the left is the Spitzer Building. The son of Samuel Knabenshue, a former editor of the Weekly Blade, Roy came from a well-respected Toledo family that was a little puzzled by his aerial pursuits. His father became the U.S. consul in Belfast and his brother, Frederick, was a Spanish-American War hero. Roy Knabenshue, a 29-year-old electrical engineer, named his invention the “Toledo No. 1.” In August of 1905, Knabenshue made the first airship flight over New York City, landing “Toledo No. 2” on a tree in Central Park. In 1910, the former dirigible driver became the manager for the Wright Co.’s (as in the Wright Brothers) exhibition team as the fascination with dirigibles shifted to airplanes.
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