The following article appeared in the May 1976 edition of The Princeton Recollector a monthly journal of local history, published by the Princeton History Project.
Newhouse Designed Early Airplanes
Less than a decade after the Wright brothers made real man's age old desire to fly, the age of aviation reached our region with the coming of Richard A. Newhouse, newly arrived from Germany, who designed and built planes in Rocky Hill as early as 1911. Later, as several of his offspring took to the air, he established the Newhouse Flying Service at Bolmer's Field, which has become Princeton Airport. Two of his five sons, Aribert of Princeton (whose statements appear in italics), and Werner A. Newhouse, of Vero Beach, Florida, here remember their father and his ventures in the world of aviation.
"Aviation came to Rocky Hill in the early 1900's with the design and building of aircraft by my father, Richard A. Newhouse (original spelling Neuhaus)."
"He was a smart man. He began as a draftsman, but he also took up engineering while he was still in Germany. Both my parents were born in Germany -.Dresden. I was, too. They came here in 1908. We came up to Vermont, first -I don't know what brought them there. I was too small - I wasn't even walking yet.
"I went back to Germany in '29 and met all the relatives. I was 21. My mother promised her mother when she left Germany that she would send me over when I was 21, so I went. Both grandmothers were still alive. There were brothers and sisters, too, but only one is still living today. She moved from East to West Germany.
"I was born in 1907 and then after we had come over here Werner was born, in February 1909."
"I have a large picture showing Mother, Dad, Aribert (the eldest) on Dad's lap, and me on Mother's lap."
"Father looks like the typical German in that picture - short mustache; and Mother looks exactly like our sister Ruth as she gets older."
"The dirigible in the background was one of Dad's earliest designs. This dirigible, along with other designs by Dad, was written up in the Boston newspapers around 1910. One article had a picture of Aribert (Ari, as Dad called him) sitting in one of the planes. I was three years old. I remember the dirigible design. My father made the drawings for that, but it was never built."
"One of Dad's first acquaintances when he came to this country was a man by the name of George Schmitt. He was a very good friend of the family, because we lived right next to him up there in Vermont. He was interested in flying, and Dad was interested in aviation design, so they naturally got together. Pop designed a plane and they put it together. This was no more than five or six years after the Wright Brothers.
"But then Dad moved us from Vermont to Rocky Hill because there was a job opportunity. He worked for the Terra Cotta Company in Rocky Hill as a draftsman, and later I did, too. All clay work."
"Nevertheless he continued his interest in aviation. I have pictures of an aircraft he worked on at about that time, designed and built by another company, which would not fly until redesigned and modified by Dad. The modifications show up as lighter sections on the wings in the pictures."
"He probably did most of his drafting on work like that after we were all in bed. At night he would make up those drawings; that was the only time he could do it."
Tragedy in Rutland
"As far as I can recollect he kept in touch with his friend Schmitt after he came down here - until he was killed. There are several pictures of his 1911 model, designed in Rocky Hill, built in 1912, and actually flown by Schmitt."
"It should be mentioned in passing that Dad's 1911 model had separate floating ailerons which were of his design. There were a major innovation as early aircraft of that day were previously banked by warping the wings."
"He did all the work on that plane right in the backyard there on Montgomery Avenue. That's the one that Schmitt flew. That plane went all the way to South America, and then that fellow Schmitt was killed with it right in his own home town up in Rutland, Vermont."
"I don't remember details of the crash, but as I understand it, Schmitt was carrying a passenger who, for some reason, became excited and grabbed the controls causing the plane to crash."
"They were 'hopping' passengers at a county fair up there. And that passenger grabbed the control wire. Schmitt's mother was looking out the house window and saw it happen. I can imagine what a sight that was."
Seven Little Newhouses
"Dad remained quite active in aviation until the 1911 model crashed and Schmitt was killed. This and other economic reasons (Dad's family was getting larger) caused him to give it up."
"There were eventually seven children. When we moved to Rocky Hill we lived up there where the first plane was built, on Montgomery Avenue. And then some people by the name of Flemming were going away and they wanted their house taken care of up on the high hill there. So we went up and I guess we stayed there about two years. That was a nice house with a lot of room in it.
"I remember particularly sleigh-riding down that hill to school. We went to the brick school on Montgomery Avenue. I went for eight years - that's all I was allowed to go. Then we moved to a house on Washington Street opposite the present Post Office. That was our residence. Today it's a beauty parlor and they've really ruined it. It was a beautiful old house, all the walls were brick lined."
All Grease Monkeys Together
"Next to the house was his garage. You should have seen it. Dad had a stone garage there. The walls were two feet thick. That had been a blacksmith shop originally. And they knocked that down to make a parking lot for the beauty parlor. We were stunned when we saw that gone.
"When Dad gave up on aviation he went into the garage business right in that stone building. He had a stove out there. I used to work out in that shop with him in those days. I had a motorcycle at that time, so I knew Joe Neil, who lived across the street, and Raymond Cortelyou - we were all grease monkeys together.
"I'll never forget one night when we had to work until three o'clock in the morning to get a hearse ready for a funeral the next day. We had to tear the whole motor down and rebuild it. One rod and one piston blew. Dad was very mechanical. He could fix cars, motorcycles - anything mechanical. I guess that's why it made all the aviation work easy for him."
Werner Takes Wings
"Dad remained inactive in aviation until my entry into the flying circle in 1927. My interest, of course, developed long before that, probably inherited from Dad. My first venture was building a model of the motored Fokker.
"Also, prior to entry into flying, I took a correspondence course in aeronautical engineering from Western Airplane Corporation of Chicago. I believe Dad was not so enthusiastic about my learning to fly. I had to get Mother to work on Dad for his permission, which he finally gave."
"Mother never stopped them. She didn't interfere. As each son came along and wanted to fly, she let him go"
"By the time I had gained my parents' go-ahead, I had saved enough money to purchase a Curtiss 'Jenny' (JN4D-2). I have several pictures of that plane taken on the early airfield (Bolmer's Field) which is the same area where the present Princeton Airport is now in existence."
"I remember when Werner got that plane and learned to fly it. I tried to fly that Jenny, but I could never make out with it."
"Late in 1927 Dad designed a three place high wing monoplane. Construction was started in 1928 and completed in 1929. 1 have several pictures of it: one showing the wing construction in Dad's shop, another of the uncovered fuselage with motor and propeller installed, and several of the completed airplane, designated the Ns-1 and bearing the registration #635."
"Dad built that plane right in his shop. He had to buy the tubing and so forth, when he built that plane - the single-wing job. But he did the work. And Werner flew that one."
Princeton Airport Arrives
"In early 1929 Dad and I started the Newhouse Flying Service at what was named by us and known then, and presently, as Princeton Airport. We published a brochure, which might supply some useful information on the flying classes and other operations run there at that time."
"Of course Dad practically lived up at that airport, day and night. He must have been back and forth from the shop to the airport fifty times a day. All he had was one hangar there. It wasn't as big as a house, as I recall, but we built that, too."
"Nevertheless, at one time we had as many as nineteen aircraft there - quite a sizable operation for the depression years. It was out of Princeton Airport that the first Air Mail flight took off from Princeton on November 16, 1937. We even had an advertising poster done by Emit Moell, a close friend of ours."
"And then, every now and then on weekends, they'd have an air show in there and do stunts. They had what they'd call the 'barrel-roll' and they'd go over and spin them down. 'Wing-over.' 'Loops.'"
"I have a picture of our parachute exhibitionist, John Perri (commonly known as Daredevil Perri) who was a Sunday feature."
"They'd go up and have someone jump out. I remember seeing them come down in their parachutes. They'd put a spot out on the field where the man should land, and he'd do it, too.
"Eventually all the boys went into aviation - except me. I'm the only one that escaped. My wife wouldn't let me. When I met her in '29 she said, 'You either keep both feet on the ground, or forget it.'"
"When the Second World War came along we all went into the service. Among the pictures is one of my Squadron VN4RD1 in a training session at Floyd Bennett Field, New York. I had previously been commissioned an Ensign as an AV-T Officer in September 1932."
"It was during the War that Dad gave up the airport. The boys were away in the service and there was nobody there to carry on.
"Dad died in '43. He was sick quite a while before he died, nine months. But as everyone said, 'If he could have had the money to go along with the brains he had, that airport could have been really something.'"
"An Inspiration to Us All"
"I believe if it had been economically feasible for Dad to continue in the early days of aviation, his name would have gone down in history. There is much more that might be added about his interest in aviation, like he learned to fly at age 51, but we would have to go on too long. He was an intelligent man and an inspiration to all of us Newhouse aviators.
"Dad and Mother brought into this world five sons and two daughters. Four sons became aviators, all of whom were airline pilots. Today Ted, of North Central Airlines, is retired with a medical disability and living in Cumberland, Wisconsin, Doug is with Eastern Airlines flying out of Atlanta and living in Gainesville, Georgia; Ray is with American Airlines flying out of Los Angeles and living on a ranch south of Tucson, Arizona and I, the eldest aviator, retired in 1969 from the F.A.A. with whom I went after World War II, and now live in Vero Beach, Florida."
"In closing, I might describe the headstone at the Rocky Hill Cemetery which is the final resting place for Elisabeth and Richard A. Newhouse. Above the Newhouse name, etched into the headstone, is the outline of Dad's 1911 model airplane."
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