Monday, November 26, 2007

Jamaica Plane

This is the second reference I've found to planes being built in Jamaica Plain. This needs more digging to find out exactly where it was built. As a postscript to the story, Mr Hodgdon came in second to a British pilot flying a Sopwith Camel. Damn those Brits!

Boston Daily Globe May 19, 1919

Hodgdon's Flight A Boston Triumph Local Plane Shows Speed With Small Engine

Atlantic City Meet Offers Chance for Private-Built Machines

The flight made by Melvin W. Hodgdon from Boston to Atlantic City, N.J. last Wednesday afternoon for the Boston Globe's trophy and cash prizes is in some respects one of the most extraordinary distance flights that have been made in this country, for Hodgdon averaged 90 miles an hour in this flight with an engine of less than 100 horsepower. That is a very remarkable time.

Of course, the answer in this case is that the Whittemore-Hamm biplane, which Hodgdon piloted, is an exceptionally fine airplane - well-built, on fast lines, and remarkably well balanced. And the satisfactory thing about it, in one way, is that both the pilot and the machine are of Boston. In fact, this airplane is, with one exception, the only successful flying machine ever designed and built in Boston. It was built out at Jamaica Plain.

During the war the government ignored this machine and pinned its faith on some machines that only a rash pilot would attempt to fly from Boston to Atlantic City. But that was the fate of other machines which the government specialists ignored. Almost as soon as Hodgdon had reached Atlantic City the machine he flew was purchased for an aviation station at Falmouth, in this state, where ti will be flown this Summer. That also shows that somebody else has confidence in the L-2.

In point of fact, the L-2 is the fruit of careful cooperative study by Dr W.C. Whittemore of Cambridge and Walter E. Homan of Jamaica Plain, both of whome have devoted six years to the perfecting of the machine, and in that time Melvin W. Hodgdon has been the pilot for the inventors. He has grown up with it, and if it were large enough to carry the necessary fuel he would not hesitate to cross the Atlantic Ocean in it. That is the kind of confidence he has in the machine.

Hodgdon's flight has made some of the other entrants for the Globe trophy pause and it is doubtful now if some of them will fly in the kind of machines they were calculating to use. But there are some machines, like the Christmas Bullet, a speedy little biplane designed by Dr Christmas, but not yet completed, which may break the record Hodgdon made.

In point of fact the only opportunity a new inventor gets with his flying machine is in such contests as the Globe's and the contests for the other newspaper trophies which are free to all at Atlantic City. Besides the Globe trophy and prizes offered by the New York World, one by the New York Herald, one by the Atlanta Journal, and on by the Cleveland Plaindealer and one by the Detroit News.

And it should be clearly understood that there are inventors and flyers in these different cities all anxious to try for these prizes, so that there is no telling what the Atlantic City aviation meet will reveal before May 30, when it closes.

New addition: for photos of the plane, and the location of where it was built, go here.


  1. Good stuff...have info on the whittemore-hamm if anyone is interested.

    Mike Whittemore

  2. Mike

    I'd love to see any additional information you have. I'm especially interested in knowing exactly the plane was built, but anthing that adds to the story is great. You can email me at the top left of the main page.

  3. The Massachusetts Aviation Historical Society has a detailed profile on the Whittemore - Hamm Company that discusses the people, planes and the place in Saugus where they flight tested and built their planes.
    We would welcome additional information from Whittemore and Hamm family members that would add to what we have researched and place on our site. We would also welcome any questions about this company and we can share information in our files that is not currently on our website.