Lyman Wiswell Gilmore Jr. ( June 11, 1874 Beaver Creek, Thurston County, Washington - February 18, 1951) was an aviation pioneer. In Grass Valley, California, he built a steam-powered airplane and claimed that he flew it on May 15, 1902. Due to the requirement of a heavy boiler and the dependency on coal as a power source, the flights would have been short. Proofs of his claim were lost in a 1935 hangar fire. There are photographs from 1898 showing Gilmore's machine, but none showing it in the air. The claims of the aircraft achieving flight are unconfirmed and given the weight evident by the grounded aircraft photos, the possibility of flight is highly disputed.
Gilmore is also known for the steam engines that he was granted two patents for in 1902, as well as, opening the first commercial airfield (Gilmore Airfield) in Grass Valley. There is now a middle school named in his honor on the site of the airfield.
On May 21, 2014 over 1,000 students from Grass Valley School District gathered at Lyman Gilmore Middle School to help celebrate the 112th anniversary of Lyman Gilmore's supposed maiden flight. The regular day staff, the after school staff, local businesses, and the community came together to put on the Second Annual Flight Day. The event not only included a fly over by roughly 15 local pilots, but it also included many hands-on, inquiry-based activity booths where the students were able to explore and learn about the principles of flight as well as engineering.
Here are a few photos from the day as well as a video of the fly over.
|Lyman Gilmore Mural "Flying into the Future"|
|Students Learning about Lyman Gilmore.|