Between Halley's comet, the early "aeroplane" flights and reports of Unidentified Flying Objects, people living during the first decade of the 20th century had good reason to have their eyes glued to the sky.
The Wright Brothers, Wilbur and Orville, were busy pioneering the aviation field. The Ohio brothers received the congressional medal in 1909 for their service in the field of aerial navigation and in June of that year, they conducted trial flights at Fort Meyer, Va., for the U.S. government.
At the time, Kenneth Kintzel, a Tamaqua native, was a first-class electrician for the Aeroplane Department of the U.S. Army Signal Corps stationed at College Park, Md. He was detached to care for Wilbur Wright's plane during the Fort Meyer testing.
With the dawn of a new decade the Wrights were involved in patent lawsuits to prevent the manufacture, selling or use in exhibition of the Curtiss airplane. The Wright Company incorporated to manufacture their airplanes in November 1909.
This was also a time when governments were looking at air flight for military purposes. In June 1910, the Courier published an editorial titled "The Matter of Aerial Navigation." At that time, the writer dismissed the use of planes for anything other than pleasure purposes.
"We hear a great deal these days about aerial navigation and how it will eventually revolutionize traffic, commerce and war," he stated. "But looking at the matter from the most favorable viewpoint we must say that there is but little chance of anybody who is of this world today living to see the revolutionizing. The Wright Brothers have perfected an aeroplane that they admit has no value at all outside of a pleasure craft."
Still, with the start of a world war just a few years away, European nations showed great interest in the use of aeroplanes for military purposes. In Aug. 1909, Orville traveled to Europe to conduct demonstration flights and had sales negotiations in Germany.
An astronomical story that surprised many observers in the new year was The Great January Comet of 1910. Often referred to as the Daylight Comet, it was already visible to the naked eye when it was first noticed by many people who independently "discovered" it.
The comet is thought to have been first spotted by diamond miners before dawn on Jan. 12. The fact that it was visible in daylight and became a spectacular sight with the unaided eye from the northern hemisphere made it a hit with the public. At its brightest, it outshone the planet Venus, and was possibly the brightest comet of the 20th century.
Through a "telephonic error," the comet was initially reported as being Drake's Comet. Once the error was found, the press began calling it the Daylight Comet or