What's Historic About Brookville, Pennsylvania?

Earle Sandt: Brookville's Original Bird Man

Earl Sandt was Jefferson County's first aviator. He was born and raised in Brookville but lived in Erie before he died. He was born in 1888 and died 25 years later in June of the year 1913.

His mechanical skills far exceeded many people in his time.

When he was young, he wired his family's home for electricity. In 1907 he left Brookville and moved to Erie and worked as a mechanic on cars.

In the fall of 1911 he left for Hammonds Port, NY, where Glenn Curtis, a famous plane constructor was hosting a flying school.

After he had his plane and knew how to fly it, he was called a barnstormer. A barnstormer would fly for a community and ship their plane to another town and fly for them.

His plane was very simple. It had 3 wheels as landing gear; the propeller was in the back, and he sat in a chair in the front and was pushed everywhere he wanted to go.

His most famous flight was across Lake Erie in February 1912. The Weather Service wanted to know if Lake Erie was frozen over. This flight made him the first American to be an international pilot.

He wrecked on the way back due to bad fuel, but he was not injured in this accident. His death came when he was flying for a town, near what is now known as Grove City. He was caught in drafts, and thrown from the plane.

He landed in a garden, but his plane fell on him and broke his leg. He survived the fall, but the break was a compound fracture and tetanus got into his blood stream. His brother in Erie chartered a boat and sent medicine down to him, but it was received too late to save Earle.

Earle Sandt was a great pioneer for the area. He was also a great pioneer for this country in the difficult unknowns of aviation.

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