As the biplane made its turn for the second lap, Hoxsey could be seen leaning and shouting at TR. "The noise from the propeller was so terrific."  Hoxsey who was looking straight ahead said he felt the machine "wiggle a little." Turning his head, he saw Roosevelt waving at the crowd and yelled "be careful Colonel-don't pull any of those strings."  He was referring to a valve cord which was directly over the Presidents head "and," explained Hoxsey, "the engine would have stopped had he pulled it."  Hoxsey reported "he smiled broadly, showing his teeth, and said, "Nothing doing.""

At the end of the second lap, "Hoxsey dipped his plane's wings and the aeroplane descended, easily striking the ground as lightly as a feather" then rolled slightly and stopped.
Roosevelt reached out and shook Hoxsey's hand "rigorously."  He told the aviator "It was great!  First class!  It was the finest experience I have had.  I wish I could stay up for an hour, but I haven't the time this afternoon."
Aviation was in its infancy in October, 1910.  Air shows were being held throughout the nation to show off "aeroplanes" to a fascinated and curious public.  Orville Wright's first flight seven years earlier had lasted 12 seconds.  He flew 120 feet at a speed of 6.8 mph at an altitude of ten feet.

On October 11th an Air Show was held in St. Louis, Missouri.  A motorcade of prominent Republican politicians, including former President Theodore Roosevelt, arrived at the air meet.   Missouri Governor Herbert Hadley had brought the former President to show off the "new fangled invention" and wow the crowd.  Roosevelt had left office the previous year.  Howard Taft was the new president.

Arch Hoxsey, a twenty-four year old pioneer aviator, was part of the Wright Exhibition Team.  He was introduced to Roosevelt and boldly asked him, ""I'd like to have you as a passenger."  Initially TR declined but  then  thought  about  and   said "wait  a  minute," whereupon
"without another word" he began to take off his coat.  Governor Hadley hastily intervened with "a scared look on his face" and asked the former President "Are you really going up Colonel?"  Roosevelt calmly responded "Of course I am."

TR took a seat next to Hoxsey in his primitive Wright biplane, removed his "slouch hat" and borrowed a "gray golf cap" from a spectator.

Hoxsey started the engine.  Roosevelt "gripped the rail and looked straight ahead."  The plane "skipped over the field for a few yards, then lifted its nose into the air, rising easily."  The plane rose to an altitude of about one hundred feet as the engine "cracking and sputtering hurled the aeroplane forward" at the ungodly speed of 60mph.  "When the Colonel swept past the grandstand he leaned forward a bit and waived his hands.  The spectators were too frightened to call back to him."
Page 1 
By Daniel J. Demers
All Rights Reserved
©Copyright 2011
Continued Page 2  
The First Air Force One?