Old St. Andrews



Obadiah Conley



St. Croix Courier, Sept 19, 1940
Shiretown Items—Born Fifty Years too Soon
Most older residents of St. Andrews will recall the one and only and rather disastrous attempt of one of our inventive and ingenious citizens who tried to soar above the earth in a heavier-than-air machine. The incident occurred more than fifty years ago and the daring experiment was performed by Obadiah Conley. The wings constructed of light wood and cotton were attached to the arms. The tail, a sort of aerial rudder, was to be controlled by the legs. But therein hangs the tale. The tail got out of control, the ship became unmanageable, and rather precipitously fell to the earth, casting the would-be pilot upon the stony beach. The leap was made from the shed of the light house on the C. P. R. wharf, at a height of about forty feet from the ground, and although this local escaped without broken bones or serious bodily injury, his feelings were sadly hurt, and his enthusiasm for flying received a shock from which he never recovered. The matter was looked upon as a huge joke by the townspeople, and the crude contraption thought to be the product of a disordered mind. But the truth of the matter is that Mr. Conley was years ahead of his time, and his attempts compare favorably with the beginnings in automobile and aeroplane studies. What recalled all this to my mind was being told today by Thomas Pendlebury, who can remember the actual incident, that the skeleton of this wonderful and premature flying machine can be seen now in the museum at Machias, Maine. Mr. Conley was for years light keeper at Machias Seal Island, and when he left there this souvenir of his one and only flight was turned over to the museum. What a tragedy that Mr. Conley could not have been spared to witness the flying of today! What a thrill it would have been to him, and how justified he would have felt in his early beliefs.