Paul Benjamin Gnauck

Born: November 4, 1891
Died: August 17, 1953
Inducted: 2001

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.

Poster of Gnauck exhibition 10 years after Write Brothers' first flight - Forward in Flight (1913)
Gnauck's homemade flying boat