On July 18, in the presence of 2,000 persons who had gathered at the Santa Clara College grounds to see the flight of Prof. John J. Montgomery's aeroplane, the "Santa Clara," the machine collapsed when at the height of nearly half a mile and Aeronaut Daniel MaIoney was hurled to the ground. The flying machine was shivered into fragments, and Maloney, who was picked up with a fractured skull, lived only an hour.
A balloon raised the aeroplane to a considerable height. When the fabric was but a speck in the sky, balloon and aeroplane slowly parted company. To the left the aeroplane slowly circled, cutting pretty figures. Maloney seemed to have perfect control of the machine.
Then, suddenly, the device refused to obey the guiding hand of the aeronaut, and with an abrupt circle it plunged quickly to the left and nearly overturned. Maloney could be seen struggling with the guide wires, but it was apparent that his efforts were futile. The machine fell swiftly earthward. One of the wings collapsed as the aeroplane gained added impetus and the mate snapped from its support and fluttered limp in the air. The front wings still remained outspread and checked to a slight degree the swiftness of the descent, but down with fatal impetus the aeroplane came through 2,000 feet of space.
The disaster was probably due to the guy rope catching one of the wings of the aeroplane as it was liberated. The machine has been fully described in these columns.
Originally appeared in Scientific American, 93, July 29, 1905, p. 82.