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Vaniman, Melvin
Born in Virden, Illinois to parents George and Luisa, Vaniman was the oldest of four sons. The short fiery red-head and his siblings were raised within a Christian sect called the Dunkards (via the German Baptist church)… a sect that disagreed with the concepts of modernization and even sad no to instrumental music in the agricultural community they lived in.
They lived on a farm and Vaniman was the kid who learned how to fix all kinds of machinery – even engines on the farm.
Like many kids, Melvin Vaniman wanted to escape the small town and seek his fortune elsewhere… turning his back on farming to study music, initially at Mt. Morris College run by the German Baptist Bretheren, before gaining further study at Valparaiso University in Indiana and later at Dexter College in Iowa, where he stayed on to become a music teacher – guitar and singing – before joining a touring opera company in Louisiana in 1887.
Vaniman built his own aeroplane in 1906… a triplane, in fact… the first ever triplane.
Calvin Vaniman completed a scaled miniature trans-Atlantic passenger airship, “Atlantic No.1”, on June 23, 1912.
Atlantic No.1
It was made for the American inventor-aeronaut-adventurer Melvin Vaniman, who died alongside his younger brother Calvin and three other crew members in the airship “Akron” trial-flight disaster on July 2, 1912 near Atlantic City, New Jersey.
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