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John F.

John F. "Jack" McGee

(1885-1918) ~ Inducted 1989

Mr. McGee was a celebrated aviator whose accomplishments and bravery as a pioneering pilot at the turn of the 20th century became legend in his chosen profession. A native of Central Falls he grew up in the Blackstone Valley area. He worked at a variety of jobs before landing a chauffeur's job with J.C. McCoy, (James C. McCoy), a famous aviator of the day. Working for McCoy sparked an interest in flying in the young chauffeur. In 1911, he completed flying school and made his first solo flight in August 1912. Jack made a name for himself as an exhibition stunt pilot, performing at fairgrounds like Rocky Point, or at ballfields in the city. He took people for plane rides, a novelty at the time, for $50 a ride. He would drop bags of flour, and fly his biplane in loops, turns and the famous ``Dip of Death.' He performed throughout the Blackstone Valley as well as in Massachusetts, Connecticut and as far south as St. Petersburg, Florida.

Jack McGee went on to become a barn-storming test pilot who foresaw the possibility of Trans-Atlantic flight and the use of the airplane by the military. Credited with several deeds of heroism during his career, his accomplishments were chronicled in the Smithsonian Institution.

On the morning of June 13, 1918, McGee, flying a pontoon plane over Cowesset Bay off East Greenwich, had an accident where a pontoon caught a wave . The plane then slammed nose-first into the water and McGee, trapped in the plane, drowned.


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