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     At an early age, thanks to aeronautics authors, I became fascinated with the pioneers of flight and their stories of invention and heroism. Names such as Montgomery, Hargrave, Maxim, Ader, Langley, Whitehead and Santos-Dumont were eagerly pursued as part of my high school reading list. Of course, the Wright brothers dominated all of the other published aviation personalities by a ratio of at least ten to one! As the years passed and new aeronautics writers added their in-depth perspectives, it soon became obvious that many of these wordsmiths – like others from the distant past – were purposefully snubbing the work of one particular principal– Augustus Moore Herring. It seemed as though the aviation community was piling-on in an almost universal condemnation of Herring, whom I would later consider to be a genuine pioneer. I first became curious and then somewhat annoyed at what I had learned … Gus had been called an aeronautical hyena – someone who sniffs around the edges of the accepted aviation community, an egotistical loner and everything in-between; this was the 1990s and the beginning of my in-depth personal research, which eventually led me to write To Caress the Air.


     Before long, I discovered that I was not alone in my quest for knowledge about Herring. Long Island’s Eugene E. Husting, a man I had never met, turned out to be an unfailing supporter of Herring and his exploits. A retired Boston banker, Gene proved to be a relentless researcher and disseminator of aeronautical information related to Gus. Everywhere that my wife, Carolyn, and I traveled in pursuit of the Herring story … Gene had preceded us. Libraries from Newburyport, Massachusetts, to St. Joseph, and Kalamazoo, Michigan, the Glenn Curtiss Museum (of all places), and even the Smithsonian Institution, Library of Congress, and the District of Columbia’s Air and Space Museum had research materials previously embedded by Husting. Gene had also written a number of meticulously researched magazine articles about Herring and his exploits in prestigious journals such as W.W. I Aero, which I ravenously consumed. In 1997, not knowing that he was grievously ill, I was finally able to contact Gene’s wife (Betty) who directed me to Herring’s great grandson, John Meiller of San Diego, California. All of Gene’s research materials including irreplaceable glass-plate negatives had been summarily shipped to Mr. Meiller. The Holy Grail of Herring research was now in my sights as I dialed Meiller’s telephone number.


     It didn’t take long for me to realize that John and Scott Meiller were the proverbial “keepers-of- the-flame” for everything aeronautical related to their great-grandfather. I worked with John for about five years; during that time he provided me with powerful insights, copies of Gus’s letters, scores of documents, and dozens of illustrations, including prints from original glass plate negatives. With a tremendous amount of research material on hand, I began an intensive two-year program to chronologically catalogue and reference more than 100-pounds of Herring resources onto index cards; the effort produced a packed shoebox … an ideal starting point for planning scenes, verifying content, and to begin writing a first draft of Herring’s story.


Research: Thanks goes out to the following institutions and individuals for their help in fulfilling this project:

  • Buffalo and Erie County Library

  • Manatee County Library System

  • The History Center at Courthouse Square, Berrien Springs, MI (Robert C. Myers), where

      I reviewed the Tom Miller (Herring researcher) files.

  • Benton Harbor Michigan Public Library

  • Plum Island Airport (Aerodrome) at Newburyport, MA (Charles Eaton)

  • Museum of Old Newbury, MA

  • Newburyport Public Library

  • Kalamazoo Aviation History Museum (Air Zoo) at Kalamazoo, Mich. (Gerard Pahl –Education Assistant)

  • The Heritage Museum and Cultural Center at St. Joseph, Mich. (Caitlin Dial)

  • National Soaring Museum at Harris Hill, NY (Peter Smith)

  • Cornell University at Ithaca, N.Y. Rare Books and Manuscript Collection (A.M. Herring. Scrapbook No. 1)

  • American Aviation Historical Society at Santa Ana, CA (Burgess research)

  • Simine Short, Lamont, IL (Octave Chanute question)

  • Nancy Mendola – genealogy research



  • Richard Brox

  • Art Pesch

  • Dee Serrio

  • Carolyn Gierke

      Cover Art:

  • Richard Thompson


  • Jeanette Willert

  • Molly O'Byrne

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