1928 photo wreckage of plane crash, killing aviation pioneer Bonney

$31.00 USD

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Interesting photo of wreckage of prototype plane that crashed, killing a pioneer of aviation. Friend of the Wright Brothers.
Back has Press attribution on brown paper glued to photo.
PLANE CURTISS FIELD, N.Y. Leonard W. Bonney, pioneer aviator and inventor, was killed yesterday afternoon at Curtiss Field when he flew his “Gull” for the first time, the unique plane plunging 100-feet straight downward, a total wreck. Bonney’s “Gull” was designed to emulate the flight of a gull and had movable wings which were intended to aid in taking off and landing within the shortest possible space. He spent five years building the craft.
Photo shows the wreckage of the plane at Curtiss Field, L.I. 5/5/28.

Photo also has Wide World Photo stamp on back.

Nice condition. Attribution paper detached and split into tow parts, paper is still complete.

10 1/8 x 8”

(Red text is an electronic watermark that is not physically part of the photo for sale)


Leonard Warden Bonney (December 4, 1884 – May 4, 1928) was a pioneering aviator with the Wright brothers.

In 1910 and 1911, he flew for the Wright Exhibition Team and was the 47th licensed pilot. In 1912 he worked for the Sloan Airplane Company, and in 1913 he was a test pilot for the Amas Airplane Company, in Washington, DC and by 1918 he was the general manager for the company. In 1914 and 1915 he was a military aviator for the Mexican government under General Carranza. During World War I he became an Army instructor at Garden City, New York, and a naval instructor at Smith's Point, New York.

In 1925 he started designing and constructing in Garden City, New York a novel plane with duraluminum folding gull-like wings, and a side-by-side cockpit. He called the plane the Bonney Gull.

A 1928 issue of Time magazine described the unusual aircraft:

It was fat in body with graceful curving wings. Bonney followed the bird principle, abandoned the aileron, or balancing contrivance which airplane designers have always considered an essential feature of stability in the air. His plane had new features: an expanding and contracting tail, like a blackbird's, for varying loads; variable camber in the wings, so that they could flatten out like a gull's when flying level; a varying angle of incidence to its wings, so that they could turn sideways into the wind on landing...

Bonney was killed on May 4, 1928 during the maiden flight of the Bonney Gull when the aircraft nosedived into the ground from about 50 feet of altitude, seconds after taking off from Curtiss Field, Long Island.