January 2, 2007

Morning Glory Circle at First United Methodist Church in Blairsville hear Clark Dyer Story

First UMC Ladies Circle Photo by Billy J. Turnage 2007

The Morning Glory Circle at First United Methodist Church in Blairsville, Georgia was very excited and amazed to hear the story of Micajah Clark Dyer’s invention of a flying machine here in the Choestoe District of Union County way back in 1874, years before anyone else had succeeded in getting a controlled vessel airborne. Sylvia Dyer Turnage, great-great granddaughter of Clark Dyer, was the guest speaker who related the story to them at their January 3, 2007, meeting.

As the ladies looked at the patent issued for the machine on September 1, 1874, they expressed surprise at the ingenious drawings and specifications produced by Dyer, who had only an eighth-grade education and who spent his life on a remote mountainous farm, having only limited contacts with people outside the community. The story of Dyer’s invention had been handed down orally to each generation of the family, and the first written account of it was by Watson Dyer in the Dyer Family History, privately published in 1980. Watson interviewed a couple of people who were eye witnesses to several flights by Clark Dyer in his plane, as well as dozens of others who had been told the story by their parents and grandparents.

It wasn’t until 2004 that Clark’s patent was finally discovered by one of the young descendents doing a Google search. Then, in the following year two 1875 newspaper articles were discovered that reported the invention, the St. Louis Globe-Democrat on July 16, 1875, and The Eagle (Gainesville, Georgia) on July 31, 1875.

Clark invented many other gadgets during his lifetime (1822-1891), and the family legend is that there were one or more later models of his aircraft. But even if documentation cannot be found for any of his other inventions, the 1874 patent for his “Apparatus for Navigating the Air” gives Clark an honored place in aviation history.

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