Navigation Company of America
February 1908, a New York lawyer, author,
economist, and inventor named Henry Laurens Call
arrived in Girard, Kansas, with blueprints for a
flying machine he had designed. He then proceeded
to talk virtually everyone in town to invest a
total of $2,500 for the purpose of establishing
an airplane manufacturing company called Aerial
Navigation Company of America Inc. One of Call's
biggest inestors was Julius
Augustus Wayland, publisher of the nationally
known socialist newspaper Appeal to Reason.
Call was going to fly a delegation of Socialists
to the national convention in Chicago on May 10,
1908, in exchange for Wayland's investment. To
make the trip, Call built a four-winged
"airplane" with two 20hp Curtiss motors
and four propellors that he said could carry 10
passengers and their luggage. The plane was not
finished until July 9, 1908, however. Dubbed the
"Mayfly" by the locals, the plane
proved far too ungainly and heavy for flight and
ended up being more properly called "No
This is believed to be the H.L. Call-built
contraption dubbed the "Mayfly."
Despite the failure of the "Mayfly,"
Call's financial support lasted long enough for
him to design and build a total of 14 prototypes,
only one of which (the last) ever made it into
the air (and then only for very short spurts).
The company went bankrupt in 1912 and Call left
Girard. Five years later, at the age of 50, Call
was killed while flying a plane in Wisconsin.
Questions or comments about