Gone to Skidmore

William M. Evans
Mr. Evans, who has been practicing with his flying machine at Overland Park for some time, has gone to Skidmore, Missouri, to fill a three days' engagement at a fair.”
- Olathe Mirror, 22 Sept. 1910.

The Punkin Show had seen its fair share of wonders. Residents from Skidmore, Missouri and surrounding communities always brought forth their finest flowers, produce, baked goods, crafts, and artwork for the yearly event. The 1910 event was about to make the previous years' shows seem like small potatoes, because the Punkin Show committee had something really special planned - something completely new and different.

The Skidmore New Era reported that the highlight of the show would be an exhibition of a Greene's Aeroplane, “owned and operated by the daring young aviator, William Evans, of Kansas City. This is a new machine, constructed on the latest approved models of the aeroplane type. It is not a balloon or a derridgible air ship, but a heavier than air machine, the very kind that is now exciting the attention of the whole world.”

How had Skidmore landed such a marvel? It seems as though the committee, whose members included the editor of the New Era and others associated with the paper, had seen the Kansas City Journal news coverage of Evans' impressive 30-mile flight in Overland Park just a few weeks before. As part of its pre-Punkin Show coverage (and perhaps as a bit of advertising), the New Era reprinted the Journal story, minus some of the minor details like Evans status as a “new” pilot, his rough landing, and the repairs to follow.

“Skidmore is very fortunate indeed in securing so great a wonder for her guests as an air ship, the first to be brought into this part of the country. It takes nerve to go up against a proposition of this kind, but the people of Skidmore are unlimited in this respect and are offering to visitors an attraction worthy of the claims of the first cities of the country.”

Evans had made a good start to his career as a professional aviator. The committee had a signed contract for two flights daily over the three days of the Punkin Show, and, the paper reported, “a certified check or bond has been placed as a forfeit by each party to this contract showing their good faith.”

It was a first-of-its-kind event for Nodaway County, and although some wondered if such a thing could really take place, no one wanted to miss the opportunity. “Now is your time to see a real genuine life sized air ship, not a toy or a play thing, but a strictly modern up-to-date aeroplane in flight.”

Next: Ready for Flight