Aviation

Cromwell Dixon
First Flight Across the Continental Divide, 1911

Cromwell Dixon, 1892-1911


Stereoview of Cromwell Dixon and his airplane at the Montana State Fairgounds, Sept. 30 1911

Cromwell Dixon was a nineteen year old aviator from Columbus, Ohio. On September 30,1911 he became the first pilot to fly across the Continental Divide. The young pilot took off from the fairgrounds at Helena and landed thirty-four minutes later in a field near Blossberg, some 17 miles to the west. Dixon wired the officals at the fairgrounds that he had landed safely, refueled his bamboo and fabric aircraft, and lifted off for his return flight to Helena.

Strong tail winds aided his return, and after circling the fairgrounds twice, he landed safely. Governor Edwin Norris proclaimed Dixon "The World's Greatest Aviator" and presented him a check for $10,000. A Helena paper said of his flight, "Hearts stopped beating, women
turned their eyes and strong men were made faint by the daring evolutions of this stripling." Dixon died just two days later when his plane crashed near the Spokane, Washington fairgrounds.

 

Cromwell Dixon Takes to the Air in Helena

 



Cromwell Dixon at Blossberg. Four photos from the Library of Congress.

 

 

 


Helena Pilot Chuck Flynn Flies Dixon's Route

 

 


Dixon's Death in Spokane, Oct. 2 1911

It is thought that an updraft from a 25-foot deep railroad cut near the Spokane fairgrounds destabilized Dixon's aircraft, causing it to crash into the cut.