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Heroes of the Sky





William Scripps and The Detroit News Autogiro

When autogiros were first developed in the 1920s many people saw them as the next “big thing” in aviation. Autogiros could take-off and land in a fraction of the space required by standard planes with fixed wings. Some enthusiasts thought they could become everyman’s airplane, used for door-to-door commuting like automobiles. One of the people who caught the autogiro bug was William E. Scripps, publisher of the Detroit News.

Scripps was fascinated by aviation. He met the Wright brothers in 1909, and by 1912 became the first man in Michigan to own and fly an airplane. In the same year he took Detroit News photographer William Kuenzel up in his plane to shoot the first aerial photos of Detroit. Under Scripps direction, the Detroit News continued to use airplanes for aerial photography, and in 1929 the paper purchased a Lockheed Vega, one of the hottest planes of the day. The innovative autogiro seemed like a perfect plane for newspaper use, so Scripps had the News purchase one 1931.

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