Glenn Curtiss and Beryl Kendrick helped put Albany on the map for motorized aviation with their record-setting (or attempted, anyway) flights from Van Rensselaer Island and the Hudson River. But just a little before that, there was another kind of aviation planned for Albany, and it was meant to be more than a novelty. An inventor by the name of George E. Tinker of East New York incorporated the New York Aerial Manufacturing and Navigation Company in 1909, with the intent to manufacture airships – dirigibles – and use them for transportation.
“The first transit route through the clouds will be between New York and Albany. If the airships do not display a disposition to seek the earth and the business pays, as Mr. Tinker’s friends are all sure it will, by and by, other lines will probably be run between [New York] city and Boston and Philadelphia.”
Tinker was backed by $25,000 in capital contributed by East New York businessmen, including a plumber, a lawyer, a druggist, and a bicycle dealer. “They all seem to have perfect confidence that Mr. Tinker’s machines will do all that is promised for them, and that the aerial navigation business will make millionaires of them all.” The focus was to have an airship of Tinker’s design ready for the Hudson-Fulton Celebration that would range up and down the Hudson River that autumn.
“For the proposed transportation line he will use dirigible balloons. His air craft of this class differs from most dirigibles in that it will not depend on a gas-filled bag to keep it in the air. The tinker ship will have a silk gas bag within an aluminum shell, but will rely upon fast-revolving propellers to lift it and keep it moving in the air. The bag will be filled with gas merely to guard against the machine dropping to earth in the event of the machinery getting out of order. There will be only sufficient gas to allow the machine to come gently to the ground. The ship will be equipped with three motors. One, of fifty horse power, will operate the lifting propellers, and the others, of ten horse power each, will run the driving propellers. The craft which Mr. Tinker is now building will be 38 feet long and 12 feet beam. He intends to enter the machine in the New York to Albany airship competition at the time of the Hudson-Fulton celebration.”
Little more can be found about George Tinker, so we’re not sure if he made his airship in time for the celebration. An article from August 1910 says his airship was almost ready. A year later still, in 1911, a model of his airship was shown in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, but talk of passenger service to Albany was forgotten.