FAIRBORN — The Fairborn Area Historical Society will present “Charles Snyder, Aviation Innovator” 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 19 at the Senior Center, 325 N. Third St. The program will focus on the early aviation pioneer who lived in “Old” Osborn, one of the two cities that eventually combined in 1950 to create Fairborn.
Charles Snyder was a contemporary of the Wright Brothers and was experimenting with flight at the same time they were. Snyder, in fact, knew the Wright Brothers, who were frequent visitors at his blacksmith shop — and later his aeroplane factory — in Old Osborn, according to the society.
It was often easier for the Wrights to take the trolley from Huffman Prairie to Snyder’s shop, four miles away, than it was to travel back to their own shop in Dayton. Once in Osborn, they would have Snyder manufacture parts for their own aeroplanes, following their specifications. Snyder would then take the trolley to Huffman Prairie to deliver and help install the parts.
Although virtually unknown today, in the early 1900s Snyder designed, flew and sold aircraft of his own design. His flying field was close enough to Huffman Prairie that both he and the Wrights could see each other testing their craft. Snyder was locally known for his aircraft, probably as much as the Wrights were, the historical society said.
Like many aviation pioneers of that time, Snyder flew his planes in shows at county fairs. Sometimes he managed to sell one to a spectator if the money was right.
In the early 1920s, Snyder, seeing no profit in his own aviation endeavors, moved his shop to New Carlisle and returned to his original trade: blacksmith. From there, he disappeared into history while other aviation pioneers continued without him.
The program, which is free and open to the public, will feature photos of Snyder and his aeroplanes, anecdotes gleaned from newspaper stories of that time and stories told by a native Fairbornite whose father worked for Snyder making propellers.
Story courtesy of the Fairborn Area Historical Society.