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Mars Skylark
The Philippines can claim south-east Asia’s earliest encounter with manned powered flight, when American aviator James C. “Bud” Mars thrilled spectators in his Skylark pusher biplane (a modified Curtiss design) at the Manila Carnival on February 21, 1911. Mars was part of a Pacific Aviation Exhibition tour organised by fellow American Capt Thomas Baldwin, who followed Mars’s Skylark display at the Carnival with a demonstration of his own Baldwin Red Devil, the pair having arrived with their dismantled aircraft aboard a steamer from Hawaii ten days previously. The exhibition had not gone so well in Hawaii, where the locals had quickly established a principle that has caused headaches for airshow organisers ever since; why pay for a ticket to enter the showground when you can see an air display from any nearby vantage point? The Manila Carnival organisers must have found a way to sidestep this issue, as the pair of aviators made numerous flights during the week-long festival. Baldwin sold his machine before the duo moved on to complete the Pacific tour with visits to Thailand, Hong Kong and Japan.
A replica of the Mars Skylark built by students at the Philippine Air Transport & Training Services College of Aeronautics in 2011 now hangs in the Philippine Air Force Museum at Villamor Air Base near Manila.
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