Hall of Fame Inductee
Born in Germany in 1891, Paul
Benjamin Gnauck emigrated to Milwaukee by way of New York, where he
had learned to fly airplanes. In 1913 he organized the Wisconsin
Aero Club, probably Wisconsin's first experimental aircraft club.
The group immediately set out building an airplane.
In April 1914, the Aero Club
launched its home-built flying boat off a Milwaukee beach. In May,
with Gnauck at the controls, the Wisconsin Club flyer set out to be
the first airplane to cross Lake Michigan from Wisconsin and to set
a record for over-the-water flight. The flyer crashed only a few
miles out in the lake and was lost, but the pilot was rescued.
Gnauck then acquired a Curtiss
pusher and became a regular performer at the Wisconsin State Fair
and other venues. He later joined the U.S. Army during World War I
and gave up flying.