Daredevil Aviators

Verton Collignon

Chicago’s northwest suburbs had its share of daredevils in the halcyon days of aviation. Eight-year-old Palatine boy Verton Collignon was the world’s youngest glider pilot, staying in the air 16 seconds. He flew from a field behind Johnson Street. That same year of 1930 saw Arlington Heights Judge Homer Byrd trying to take off from a field at what is now Northwest Community Hospital. He gave the propeller a spin to get it going and lo and behold the plane began moving without him. Tracing a big circle the plane came back to its original spot and the judge leapt for the cockpit but was knocked down by the wing. On the fourth try he managed to subdue the plane!