Aviator Floyd Bennett was back in Ticonderoga on March 13, 1928 after a 12-year absence. Since his last visit, Bennett had been to the North Pole and back, as co-pilot and mechanic with explorer Richard Byrd, and had received the National Geographic Society medal from President Calvin Coolidge.
But the one who had “risen to the top of his chosen profession” was still “the same old Floyd” that once worked at People’s Garage with Ticonderoga motorcycle policeman Carl O’Dell.
“Unassuming, matter of fact about his success in aviation, boyishly happy to be among his old friends, it is true that triumphs in this fast-growing field have not changed him in the least,” the Ticonderoga Sentinel reported on March 15, 1928.
Little did any of his friends know that Bennett would be dead a little over a month later.
Bennett was in the area to test the ice-landing apparatus of a new specialized Bellanca air plane that Byrd was to use on his upcoming expedition to the South Pole.
Bennett landed the “huge yellow bird” on the frozen surface of Lake Champlain, near Fort Ticonderoga, at 4:20 pm, March 13.
He and his three-man crew stayed overnight in Ticonderoga, did some more test landings the next morning, and then flew on to St. Albans, Vt. for more testing.
Bennett was slated to accompany Byrd to the South Pole, but Bennett’s participation was pre-empted by his untimely death of double pneumonia, contracted when flying emergency supplies to a team of Trans-Atlantic flyers marooned on Greenly Island in Canada, near the Quebec border with Newfoundland and Labrador.
As Bennett lay dying at Jeffrey Hale Hospital in Quebec, fellow aviator Charles Lindbergh piloted over the Champlain Valley, transporting serum that physicians hoped would be life-saving.
Lindbergh’s plane was reportedly spotted over Ticonderoga after 4:30 pm, April 24, 1928. “A faint hum was heard and then the plane shot into view and in a few seconds had passed over the town and disappeared in the north,” the Ticonderoga Sentinel reported.
The plane was reportedly spotted over Port Henry at 5:10 pm, crossing Lake Champlain north of the village on a route that took Lindbergh over St. Albans Bay to Quebec.
Lindbergh reached Quebec before Bennett died at 10:50 a.m. April 25, but it turned out the serum would not treat the strain of pneumonia Bennet had.
Bennett’s lifeless body made one last trip through the Champlain Valley, this time via the train that carried his body to New York City and then on to Washington, D.C. for his funeral and burial at Arlington National Cemetery.
Photo of Floyd Bennett courtesy United States Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs division.