World War I in Lawrence: KU football player switches to ‘rare sport’ of flying

Russell Cowgill of Lawrence wrote home this week from aviation training school in Dayton, Ohio. According to the Lawrence Journal-World, “Cowgill was a K. U. football player last fall, but the new sport of flying is what he calls a ‘rare sport.’ His brief letter follows: ‘Well, I’ve had about 50 minutes in the air since I started flying. I go up every day some time between 6 and 9:30 a.m. Have to be on the field all that time waiting for turn and watching other planes. I drove the ship on the straight-a-way the first time up, and got along fairly well. It is hard to fly in a straight line, owing to drift, etc. Another tendency is to nose up or down. I do not have any trouble keeping wings from tipping. It sure is rare sport, but it is tame already. Don’t have any time to watch the ground except to glance down to see where you are going. No dizziness. Ground just drops away and looks like pictures taken from planes. Fields are just squares and roads look like yellow ribbons. Hard to realize that machine is traveling 70 to 80 miles per hour. Very noisy with a 90 H. P. 8 cycle engine roaring about six inches in front of you, but you don’t notice it after a few minutes.'”

Hoping to train aviators for the army and for post-war needs, the KU School of Engineering announced a “five-hour course in the elements of aviation beginning September 19.” The course was to include “the dynamics of flight, the construction and operating of the airplane motor, principals of airplane construction, and special work in mechanics in the physics department” and was to be “open to all students of the University, men and women.”