Charles L. Ritchey
Original Content Is © 2013 - Carroll F. Gray

RITCHEY, Charles L.

Affidavit, August 21, 1936

I, Charles L. Ritchey, 3373 Parkview Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, do depose and say that I recall that around the year 1900 I saw and talked to a man by the name of Whitehead (or a similar name) as he demonstrated an airplane in Schenley Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which he was supposed to have made. I also saw him run the engine for some time using charcoal for fuel, I did not see the plane in flight as it was anchored to the ground at the time I saw it. I do recall of reading about and hearing of this plane making a flight in which it was supposed to have gained a height of about twenty feet and then it crashed injuring the driver. I readily recognized pictures shown me by Miss Stella Randolph as being very much like the plane and the photograph she showed me very much resembled the man who was in charge of the plane I saw in Schenley Park.

Signed & Sworn

Stella Randolph typed notes, July 17, 1936

We first visited Mr. Charles L. Ritchey. I had to wait some time for Mr. Ritchey to return from an errand. He said he recalled Mr. Whitehead from the picture I showed him and also thought some pictures of planes I had with me resembled the one he had seen Whitehead have. He said he recalled considerable publicity in the papers at the time Whitehead flew, although he had not seen the flight himself. He said he was sure the Pittsburgh Press (Boulevard of Allies and Liberty Avenue) had been the paper that carried the accounts he saw. He said that it covered considerable space on the front page. The engine burned charcoal for getting up steam. He remembered the machine in a roped-off space where they were getting up steam, and recalled Whitehead's talking to the crowd and telling them they were going to take it up. He said he thought the flight took place in Schenley Park. It got into the air about 20 feet. He thought Whitehead lived at Milvalr [sic] or Aetna.

Stella Randolph typed notes, July 17, 1936

He [McAllister] went with me to see Mr. Charles L. Ritchey, 3373 Parkview Avenue. Mr. Ritchey said he could recall the flight of the plane which he thought might have taken place either in Schenley Park or on McKee Street. He believed as he thought about it, that it was on McKee Street. He said he could add nothing to the letter he had sent me, except that he was able to identify the picture of Whitehead as the man he knew who was trying the flights and some of the pictures I showed him looked like the plane he saw. He was not sure whether the plane had wheels, but thought possibly it ran on some sort of track. He thought Whitehead lived in Millvale or Aetna. He tried to recall the name of Martin Devine who said he used to help push the plane for tests, but could not and asked me to inquire at the engine house. He also said the Pittsburgh Press had a full account of the incident together with pictures. Their office is at Boulevard of the Allies and Liberty Avenue. He said the machine was in a roped off space and was tied down, but that they used to heat up the engine with charcoal for demonstrations, and Whitehead made a little talk to the crowd one day saying that they were going to attempt a flight.