"The Dove" was the name that George Kimmet, one of Lowell's early businessmen, affectionately called his invention, an airplane that could rise straight up into the air and could hover. The year was 1929.
Kimmet wrote about his idea: "If I had plenty of money I would use some of it experimenting on a research flying machine, that I believe would start straight up from where it stood on the ground. I would build it somewhat along the design shown below [see sketch]. The cabin would be 18 feet long, 7 feet wide and 7 feet high."
The aircraft was to be equipped with two high-powered engines, both pulling at the same time on a central shaft. The engines were to be one third of the distance from the front of the cabin, with the gas tank at the rear, under the seat.
He planned to use eight perpendicular shafts with a propeller at the top of each, the blades to be 4 1/2 feet long, made in rights and lefts and all turning toward the cabin. Four of the props were to be 2 feet above the other 4, so they would not interfere with each other. He planned the propeller shafts two feet from the cabin, installed in projections at the top and the bottom. Still another propeller was planned for the front of the aircraft to pull it forward, with a "tail fan" at each of the two corners for guiding the machine.
Kimmet explained: "When on the ground, I would have the machine resting on eight, inflated rubber cushions. I contend that the eight propellers will lift the machine straight up in the air and keep it there, and the front propeller will pull straight ahead. By having two engines, one might go out of commission, then the other could land the machine safely."
In the Lowell Tribune of Thurs., June 6, 1929, the following headline appeared: "LOWELL MAN IS AN INVENTOR -- GEORGE KIMMET EXHIBITS MINIATURE AIRPLANE THAT MAKES VERTICAL RISE." The story described the plane and explained that Kimmet got his idea from an old-fashioned windmill. It went on to tell about the exhibition before Ford Motor Co. representatives from whom Kimmet received little encouragement.
They told him that rising from a standing position in mid-field was impractical! Kimmet told reporters that if nothing came of his invention, it might still give other men an idea from which aviators would derive great benefits in the future. He told them: "I am thinking that this plane could be used for research work or for reconnoitering or scout duty in time of war."
Leonardo Da Vinci (1452-1519), Italian painter, sculptor, scientist and world-proclaimed genius, was aware of the basic principles of the airplane and the helicopter centuries before Kimmet, and the 'autogyro' was being researched at about the same time in 1929.
Germany is said to be the first country to produce a successful helicopter, and in 1939 Sikorsky built his VS 300 helicopter, which was accepted by the U.S. Army. By 1944 helicopters were being produced in considerable numbers. Kimmet would no doubt be excited to see the military gunships, modern rescue 'choppers' and flying ambulances.
George Kimmet was born in Bettsville, Ohio, in 1865, at the end of the Civil War and came to Lowell from Tiffin, Ohio, in 1890.
He soon established a grocery store in a frame building on the site now occupied by the B. and G. Carpet store, formerly the site of Grant Brothers Department Store.
The frame building burned to the ground during the big fire of 1898, which consumed nearly all the buildings on the north side of Commercial Ave. in downtown Lowell. Then in 1899, he owned a department store, called the "Fair, in a frame building across Commercial Ave. from the present Adam Service Station. The building has been torn down, but many remember the bowling alley and pool hall there.
Advertisements for Kimmet's store in 1905 included men's work shirts for 25¢ overalls at 50¢ one set of violin strings at only 15¢ wash tubs priced at 65¢ and choice of stockings sold for 10¢. Well-known Lowell business man L.W. "Billy" Brown later bought the store and called it "Brown's Bazaar."
George Kimmet married Elizabeth K. Schutz in 1892. Their seven children were: Katherine, Clara,, Leo, Hermena (Hermenia), Laura, Raymond and Lenora. They were married in old St. Martin Church, which was on the site of the present Holy Name Catholic Church of Cedar Lake.
Kimmet retired from business in 1927, but always retained his interest in Lowell's business and civic affairs. Among his chief interests were Lowell's schools and the young people of the community, while his daily walks about town kept him in close contact with business progress. He was one of the Tribune's first advertisers and was a subscriber for 67 years. An ardent gardener, he cultivated his plants behind his home on Halsted St. on the banks of Cedar Creek. He died at Our Lady of Mercy Hospital in Dyer in January, 1956, and is buried in St. Edward Catholic Cemetery in Lowell.
Perhaps some of his imaginative ideas for the "Dove" are being used today in modern aircraft, which would no doubt make Kimmet proud.
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