Erected 1998 by Wisconsin Historical Society
Rothschild, Marathon County, Wisconsin
44° 54.097′ N, 89° 36.878′ W
HOME-BUILT FLYING MACHINE
On June 23, 1911, near this location, Wausau native John Schwister became a pioneer of Wisconsin aviation. Research indicates that on this date Schwister flew the state's first home-built airplane capable of sustained, powered flight. Constructed of wooden ribs covered with light cotton cloth and powered by an early-model aircraft engine, Schwister's biplane flew for several hundred feet at a maximum altitude of twenty feet. Calling his plane the Minnesota-Badger, Schwister began the design and construction of his "flying machine" in St. Paul, Minnesota, but finished it in Rothschild, Wisconsin. Initially, Schwister flight-tested his biplane as a glider, towing it behind an automobile like a kite. He also built his own airplane hangar here. Schwister made many flights in 1911, including a 27-mile flight in which he soared to 2,000 feet, higher than nearby Rib Mountain. In 1912, Schwister was seriously injured in a plane crash, yet he continued to construct and fly his own airplanes making him Wisconsin's first successful "home-builder."
The marker is located at the north edge of Rothschild Park on eastbound Kort Street, between Park Street and West Grand Avenue, Rothschild, Wisconsin 54474.
Wisconsin Public Television: Aviation historians Michael Goc & Robert Wylie tell the story of John Schwister's flight (video)
There is no parking at the marker location. I was able to take this photograph at a stop sign adjacent to the marker.