Letters Home - Earl Edward Garbutt

Had a sweet trip in the air yesterday. Have a new monitor, and he lets me do about as I please. Made two complete trips all alone, but will say the landings were nothing to brag of. The motor was working fine and the sun shining bright. Went up about 300 meters or nearly 1,000 feet and made a big circle. It was a little bumpy, but not enough to detract from looking overboard. Even as low as 300 meters, the country looks flat and the forests look like green cushions. I was almost tempted to try jumping out on the forest - didn’t, however.

We have an accident or two nearly every day, as all the flying schools do. But since they quit putting the motors overhead - and put them in front - the fatal accidents diminished. You remember how the old machines had the engine overhead and back of the pilot. Yesterday some fellow was starting on a trip alone, and his machine side-slipped and crashed to the ground. The ambulance rushed up, but the fellow was all right as usual.

Another fellow was making a landing and evidently hit a ditch, though I didn’t see it fall. The first thing I saw, his machine was standing on its nose. The pilot wasn’t hurt and just sat there flapping the rudder back and forth. It was sure funny - it looked like a duck with its head under water wagging its tail. About five minutes later the ambulance came rushing up. You see, the ambulance always stands at one side of the field ready to rush to an accident. Some time ago it got stuck in the mud, but finally got out.

It was sure funny yesterday when a machine lost a wheel when taking off. There was a pupil in the machine who perhaps would have tried to land the machine and, if he had been going fast, might have smashed up. So two fellows got spare wheels and rushed out on the field and, when the machine came back around, they waved the wheels in the air to show he had lost one. So the pilot gave it the gas and made another loop and landed it very slowly - didn’t even snap a wire, although the axle dug into the ground and the machine spun around. I’ll bet the student was ready to jump.

EARL EDWARD GARBUTT was born in Sheridan in 1893, one of three sons born to postmaster Cameron Willis Garbutt. Edward's mother, Anna May Loucks, was the daughter of Sheridan founder John D. Loucks.


Prior to the start of the war, Edward worked for the U. S. Government at the Presidio in San Francisco. Just before war was declared, he traveled across the bay to Berkeley to enlist in the Army.


Like his brother, John Donald Garbutt, Edward entered the Aviation Service. Unlike John - who was killed in a training accident in early 1919 - Edward survived the war and went on to a career as a pilot. 


In the spring of 1918, Lieutenant Garbutt was stationed "Somewhere in France" at the Second Aviation Instruction Center. His letter from there, addressed to younger brother Cameron, was published in The Sheridan Enterprise on June 16, 1918.

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