August 8, 1928: First plane crash in Duluth

On this day in Duluth in 1928, 30-year-old student pilot Julius Brent of 301 101st First Avenue West—along with two boys, Dale Lyerly and Bruce Kunsman of Superior—crashed L. A. Hoffman’s “borrowed” airplane after the vehicle hit power wires and exploded. Brent and the boys first took off from Superior and, “contrary to regulations and without permission” flew across the St. Louis River to New Duluth. As Brent circled his house, he banked too high, sending the plane into a tailspin, hitting power lines on its way to the ground. The plane exploded as it collided with the earth and came to rest in front of the barn. The plane actually landed in Bernt’s own back yard, and the newspaper said the three “miraculously escaped death.” Lyerly and Kunsman were sent to Webber Hospital with injuries, including burns. All recovered. As it was the first such incident in Duluth, authorities weren’t sure what to do, but cited regulations that said Brent could be fined up to $500. Sticklers for detail—and readers of Zenith City Online—might remember that in July of 1915 the Lark of the Lake, a “flying boat” owned by Julius Barnes, took a dip in St. Louis Bay. But the plane flew only a few feet above the water and the pilot—and for the most part, the plane—was uninjured. Perhaps the lesson here is that if your name is Julius, avoid flying planes in Duluth. You can read about that crash, and much more about the Lark of Duluth, here.