Spud Manning

Spud Manning


Majenta Gerard

Majenta Gerard

On September 6, 1933, two aviators and a young woman went missing over Lake Michigan when their Autogyro evidently crashed while bound from South Bend, Indiana for Chicago, Illinois during the Century of Progress International Exposition (World’s fair).

Carl T. Otto piloted the aircraft with 24 year old world champion parachute jumper H. W. “Spud” Manning aboard, along with a young woman, 20 year old Majenta Gerard, of River Forest, Illinois. The three had attended a party on Tuesday evening and left South Bend at 9:00 am Wednesday. They reportedly followed the shoreline to Michigan City, then cut straight across toward Chicago rather than continue to follow the safer route.

Newspapers reported that a swimmer saw the autogyro “spinning out from the Michigan City shore.” The master of the lake steamer Theodore Roosevelt reported he had seen what appeared to be canvas wreckage four miles off the Chicago harbor. Capt. Lon Yancey, ocean flyer, helped organize aerial searching parties, hopeful that Manning and his companions had been able to launch their gasoline tank and stay afloat. For two days, amphibians, land planes and a blimp crisscrossed in the air while six coast guard cutters explored the waves for some sign of the missing ship. Captains of lake steamers, meanwhile, were informed of the search by radio and asked to keep watch.

By the following day, Saturday, September 9, 1933, airmen turned from Lake Michigan to wooded areas of the Indiana dunes in the search. Hope was almost abandoned after a fruitless hunt over the lake until two Michigan City residents reported having seen a plane turn back from the lake Wednesday. Both witnesses, Miss Hilda Fritz and Harvey Kenke, a mail carrier, said the plane was of unusual construction and that it flew north and east of Michigan City, then seemed to disappear.

Air mail pilot Captain B. B. Lipsner, who led the search, said a number of pilots had promised to fly over the region again the following day. That became unnecessary when all three bodies washed ashore near the Youngstown Sheet and Tube plant at Indiana Harbor. The bodies were in various stages of undress which led authorities to determine that either there was some panky-panky going on, or the three realized their aircraft was going down, giving them time to remove heavy clothing before they entered the water for a long swim ashore.

The tragedy was compounded when Manning’s wife, Dora, delivered their second child, a daughter, in Wittier California on Sunday evening, September 10, while his body was in lake Michigan.

The wreckage of the autogyro was not located.

(information from various newspaper source)