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Coosa Flyer

Coosa Flyer

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Coosa Flyer

337 pages
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Oct 21, 2016


Man CAN fly! Man can FLY! MAN CAN FLY!!!
To soar like a bird was unthinkable in the late 19th century. The Wright brothers were only 7 and 3 years old, when a relatively uneducated mountain man from Georgia decided that man could fly and he was determined to find the secret! Of course, his neighbors and on-lookers thought he was crazy - but that only fed fuel to the fire. This is his story. The story of a man driven by an idea; a man with a mission; a man with a vision. After all, he reasoned that if a man could float on water, he could also float on air. Despite the ridicule and mocking, Micajah Clark Dyer was a man determined. Determined to prove the nay-sayers wrong. A man, relatively unknown and unrecognized by the public even today, but a man who pursued his dreams. A man who achieved the impossible.

***** Backwoods Georgia Genius Built, Flew Mystery Aircraft In a remote graveyard, half-mile back in the woods from the pavement, there is a new monument.
It’s in Union County, the Georgia county which borders us on the south. And it marks the final resting place of Micajah Clark Dyer and wife Morena.
His name now also appears on the paved road, GA-180, which serves his native settlement of Choestoe, supposedly Indian word for “place of the dancing rabbits” or something similar.
Dyer got an official U. S. Patent in 1874 for his design of a Rube Goldberg mechanical contraption slung beneath a balloon. Flapping paddles on either side of a streamlined hull would supposedly move the balloon forward.
The paddles could be powered by steam, he said in his patent description, or some other suitable drive mechanism. They were meant to mimic a bird’s wings. Although the patent was never built, thus its airworthiness was never determined, Dyer was successful with a different style - a glider with a spring-wound motor that did fly.

Oct 21, 2016

Tentang penulis

Wally Avett is a semi-retired realtor in the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina. He lives in the same little town, sometimes compared to Mayberry, where he was editor and chief writer in the 1970s for the weekly newspaper. These days he writes a column, the Hillbilly Ranger, for the hundred-year-old Cherokee Scout newspaper at Murphy. Avett's first novel, Murder in Caney Fork, was published by Bell Bridge Books, 2014.

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Coosa Flyer - Wally Avett

Backwoods Georgia

Genius Built, Flew

Mystery Aircraft

In a remote graveyard, half-mile back in the woods from the pavement, there is a new monument.

It’s in Union County, the Georgia county which borders us on the south. And it marks the final resting place of Micajah Clark Dyer and wife Morena.

His name now also appears on the paved road, GA-180, which serves his native settlement of Choestoe, supposedly Indian word for place of the dancing rabbits or something similar.

Dyer got an official U. S. Patent in 1874 for his design of a mechanical contraption slung beneath a balloon. Flapping paddles on either side of a streamlined hull would supposedly move the balloon forward.

The paddles could be powered by steam, he said in his patent description, or some other suitable drive mechanism. They were meant to mimic a bird’s wings.


Dyer died in 1891 and two small modest stones marked his grave and his wife’s. In the last few years, however, his descendants have sparked a large interest in the man and his works and provided a handsome memorial.

Done by WNC Marble here near Murphy, North Carolina. it has the original small tombstones embedded in the big stone as well as text describing his work and the two drawings featured in his original patent application.

Family members also have a website now, which you can see -- micajahclarkdyer.org. And a descendant, Sylvia Turnage, has written a book about Dyer. Both the title and the road sign describe him as Georgia’s Pioneer Aviator.

He obviously flew. Observed by many word-of-mouth witnesses. But what did he fly?


His new patent design -- titled by the Patent Office as Apparatus for Navigating the Air -- brought him both fame and ridicule.

Newspapers printed the story, other newspapers (then as now) saw it and reprinted in their newspapers.

It was printed in the Gainesville and Atlanta papers and spread from there, reaching papers across the nation.

The Macon newspaper carried a straight story about the new airship patent but in the final paragraphs of the story suggesting that Mr. Dyer should have a room reserved for him at the state mental asylum in Milledgeville!

The design he had presented so well on paper was apparently never built or flown, proving too expensive even to construct.

Along with the various news stories, there exists today a Letter to the Editor written by one of Dyer’s supporters, asking for money to pay for construction. The writer said he felt Dyer’s design would prove itself if only it could be built.


During the 17 years he lived and experimented AFTER the patent, Dyer continued to work long and hard on the awesome idea of human flight.

Contemporaries said he was a tinkerer, a natural mechanic who built little toys and wind-powered whirligigs for children. And little airplanes that flew with spring motors salvaged from clocks. With bodies made from dried corn stalks.

That is amazing, and very revealing. If you were an early thinker and you were focused on lightweight, super lightweight building materials and you had NO balsa wood….just consider.

In the mountains, far from any city, self-educated, you could not do better for a fuselage than a joint of dried cornstalk. Its strength-to-weight ratio is fantastic.

Dyer really raised eyebrows when he built his launching ramp on Rattlesnake Mountain overlooking his meadow. One of his descendants told me the neighbors could hardly believe that a man would put all that labor and logs and fence rails into a foolish thing like that.

The greased wooden ramp, looking something like an Olympic ski-jump, would put his craft into the air numerous times. Hunters who prowl the mountain in winter tell me traces of the ramp were still visible just a few years ago.


During the past week I sat down several times with Dyer descendants and Union County seniors and talked of Micajah Dyer and what they remembered old-timers telling them.

Well, to tell the truth, lots of folks sorta thought he was crazy, one said, to build such a thing and then risk his life flying.

It was a novelty, one 93-year-old said. People were curious and would come to the Dyer homeplace to watch.

They saw him fly, coming off the ramp and sailing over the meadow. But there were no cameras and no newspaper, no coverage of the flights. No details of what his flyer craft looked like.

I think it was probably a glider, one relative told me. I don’t think it had a motor at all.

Tired of critics, or perhaps with his eye on another patent, Dyer kept his workshop locked tight except for one male assistant who was allowed access. Visitors, which were plentiful, peeped freely through the cracks.

One young girl’s comment on what she saw tells the tale. I looked though the slats into the workshop, she told years later. And I saw something that looked like a dragonfly….


After Dyer died his wife sold his drawings and models to a pair of wealthy brothers, the Redwines from Atlanta, and Dyer’s work was never seen again.

Some loving,loyal supporters say Dyer’s work helped the Wright brothers make the famous First Flight on the sands at Kitty Hawk. I doubt it.

The Wright brothers’ father was a bishop in a small obscure Protestant denomination. They were educated, and they subscribed to a lot of newspapers,magazines and scientific journals.

Skilled bicycle mechanics, they experimented with gliders and knew about propellers, but lacked a lightweight power plant. When they got their hands on a small gasoline engine, they wisely built a little wind tunnel and learned which airfoil shape could produce lift. Then made history.

Micajah Clark Dyer was not educated, lived in the isolation of these ancient mountains and found things out by himself.

But he managed to build some sort of glider and flew it repeatedly off the ramp he devised. He survived the flights and the landings,died of natural causes.

If he’d just had a gasoline engine…maybe an early air-cooled motorcycle motor….?


Highway marker recognizes local man who was early flyer.

HILLBILLY RANGER column by Wally Avett


Coosa Flyer


Wally Avett

W & B Publishers


Coosa Flyer © 2015. All rights reserved by Wally Avett

No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping, or by any informational storage retrieval system without prior permission in writing from the publisher.

W & B Publishers

At Smashwords

For information:

W & B Publishers

Post Office Box 193

Colfax, NC 27235


ISBN: 978-1-9429810-5-3

ISBN: -94529810-5-8

This book is a work of Fiction, inspired by a True Story. Any use of the names of places and persons – living or dead – is used for historical purposes only.

Book Cover designed by Dubya

Chapter One

Bushyhead and Tuni gathered their few belongings in the dim gray light just before sunrise and slipped quietly out of the rambling settlement on the river. Above them loomed the massive dark peaks of the Great Smokies, somewhere on the path in front of them they hoped to find Oklahoma.

Mountain Cherokee, they had been left behind seven years earlier in the 1838 Removal. While thousands of the Cherokees had died on the forced march they would call Trail of Tears, these two were among those who were allowed to stay in the wild North Carolina mountains.

Their ancient homeland was now reduced to something called the Qualla Boundary, a tract with definite limits, something no free-ranging Cherokee understood. White settlers pushed in with their towns on all sides.

Bushyhead pondered it all in his heart and watched as history unfolded. A bachelor, now almost forty-years-old, he had lived with his aging mother in a small cabin located in the Cherokee village of Yellow Hill. He had hunted and fished and played the bone-crushing sport called Indian Ball with his peers, but the white man's ways did not affect him greatly. Books and education could not hold his interest, as they did some Cherokee. He was slow and stoical, a survivor. The Indian maidens found others—red and white—much more interesting than Bushyhead. He had watched the seasons pass and himself simply grow older.

For some time now a feeling had been growing inside Bushyhead, an uneasy feeling that some change was needed. He tried to focus on it while he fished for the pretty little speckled trout of Spring, flashing like silver in the shallow streams beneath the mighty hemlocks. His thoughts were like the tiny fish, all movement and action and flash, never still long enough for him to grasp them.

Suddenly one morning it had hit him. Bushyhead, he said to himself, you will go to Oklahoma. This was not unusual, for he often spoke to himself in this manner and, indeed, his inner voice often sounded suspiciously like his mother's.

It made sense, somehow. After all, he had relatives who had survived the march to Indian Territory in Oklahoma and he would like to visit them. The Qualla Boundary and the Smokies were too familiar and too cramped, but he would need a companion for the trip and most men his age would not be free to go.

Slightly retarded, Tuni would be an excellent choice. He was fifteen, large and strong for his age, and an excellent hunter. His mental condition, which was often joked about behind his back by the other Cherokee, seemingly made him a more patient hunter, which meant he often got game when the others gave up and came home. The boy would sit quietly beside a deer trail for days, regardless of the weather, until his quarry exposed itself to his arrows.

This trait had endeared the youth to Bushyhead, who was growing bored with hunting, and especially the waiting. Increasingly, Bushyhead liked to lounge around at the hunters' camp and smoke his pipe, sometimes alone and sometimes entertained by the chattering of Little Squirrel, who drank the white man's whiskey and had been locked up in the white man's jails and had seen many great things. Bushyhead had learned that the half-witted boy would eventually kill a deer and bring it to camp, it was just a matter of time.

Away from the hunt, however, the slow-thinking Tuni was somewhat a nuisance. He sang and chanted, often doing remarkably accurate imitations of birds and animal voices. Other Indians found repeated imitations of a wild turkey call to be annoying and cursed the boy for a fool. His feelings were easily hurt and he would then run away and cry and sulk. Bushyhead, who was really the boy's maternal uncle, soon found himself comforting the youth at times like these and finding some small task or game to divert the scolded youth's attention elsewhere. Soon, the crisis being over, Tuni would be happily grinding meal for Bushyhead's mother or tossing stones at a bark target or in some other manner keeping busy and stopping his disturbances of adult conversation.

Curiosity about the Cherokee's fortunes in Oklahoma had been sparked in Bushyhead when Iron Bear and others who had made the long walk had returned to the Qualla Boundary villages. They told of a flat country, far across the big river, a hard life in the new reservation. The bulk of the tribe had been transferred to the new land and now Bushyhead wanted to see it.

You will go to Oklahoma, his inner voice said sternly, and Bushyhead nodded. You will take the boy with you – they make him cry with their jokes here and if you leave him, no one will protect him. Besides, he can hunt for you along the way and he is strong.


Lights shone yellow in the windows of the cabins and huts of the Cherokee village as they hiked quickly down the river trail, beside the tumbling white water. Bushyhead carried his musket, the boy was armed with his bow and arrows; both wore buckskins and carried trade knives in homemade sheaths on their belts. Packs on their backs contained some food, blankets and extra moccasins for the long walk.

In a beaded pouch on his belt, Bushyhead also carried about forty dollars in gold coins, given to him by several relatives before their announced departure. He had learned something of the white man and money, lessons learned in the frontier stores first opened in Indian Country by the whites. Bushyhead was not dumb, he told himself, Bushyhead could count.

However, he knew nothing of the white man's calendar which proclaimed his day of departure as Easter Sunday, 1845.


Three days later, their food supply disappearing rapidly, Tuni and Bushyhead wandered into the Baptist mission at Brasstown, on the Hiawassee River near Murphy.

Welcome, our Cherokee brothers. You are welcome to stay here with us, said the robust red-faced missionary preacher. His flock had dwindled badly since the Removal and these two could help out with the corn planting.

The travelers were established in a small wooden cabin for the night and fed a meager meal of soup and cornbread. The next morning they learned about corn and forced labor.

We have the corn here to plant this year, but first it must be shelled, Brethren. You do your Christian duty helping us with the corn and we will feed you and give you a place to stay, the missionary said. Let us begin.

Bushyhead and Tuni shelled the hard, dry corn all day. Back in the Indian village this would have been women's work, Bushyhead thought, not a fit task for a man. But he kept at the task and the boy worked hard non-stop, much harder than Bushyhead. At noon there was cornbread and milk, at supper more soup and cornbread.

Now, we will have vespers, the missionary said. He and his wife led the Indian pair to the rough-hewn chapel, where split-log pews awaited them. The missionary and his wife sang several hymns, with Tuni joining in enthusiastically.

Bushyhead smiled slightly as he listened. The missionary couple were singing in English, for Bushyhead had heard traveling preachers before on the Qualla Boundary. The boy Tuni was chanting in Cherokee, sometimes throwing in a wolf howl for good measure, and enjoying it greatly. Finally, a stern look from Bushyhead quieted him.

After an hour of hard preaching, the missionary couple dismissed them, and the Cherokee visitors gratefully retired to their cabin.

A second day went by like the first, ending with fierce Baptist preaching. The boy howled aloud with glee during the singing, which amused Bushyhead, but not for long. Dead tired, his hands sore and scraped from two days of shelling the flint-hard corn, Bushyhead dozed off twice during the sermon. When it was over, Tuni led him to their little cabin and they both slept soundly.

We go now, we must leave, Bushyhead told the missionary the next morning, being very careful to make this statement after the pair had consumed a good breakfast. They would shell no more corn.

But… but… but… Brethren, there is much to be done here! protested the missionary. He soon accepted the fact, though, that his newfound labor was leaving. The missionary's good wife, even quicker to forgive than her good husband, gave them a large bag of cornbread, some flour and some sidemeat for their journey. She had apparently taken a liking to the boy Tuni, hugging him repeatedly before they walked away in the Spring morning.


Down the Hiawassee River trail they walked, soon covering the short five miles to the little town of Murphy. Tuni marveled at the goods in a store there while Bushyhead bought gunpowder and lead balls for his old musket. He also bought some peppermint candy for the boy.

They paid a boatman ten cents to ferry them across the river at Murphy, heading south toward Georgia.

That's where the soldiers stayed when they gathered the tribe for the Removal, the boatman said, jerking a thumb toward the buildings of Fort Butler, on a small ridge over-looking Murphy. The barracks are now a courthouse, he added.

A feeling of concern nagged at Bushyhead. He knew lots of Cherokee had been chased out of Georgia by whites who took their cabins and land. Many had come to North Carolina, where conditions were better. Indeed, many Indians had been hidden by whites in the area around Murphy and spared from the Removal. Yet the route he had planned for them to follow to the new Cherokee country would lead through Georgia and Alabama.


Nightfall found them camped in a grove of big white oaks near the village of Blairsville, in the northern edge of Georgia. A dark range of mountains lay in front of them, south of the town. It would take several days, but they must cross these last mountains before heading diagonally southwest across Georgia and Alabama. Bushyhead carried a rude map with him, prepared before their departure with the assistance of a school teacher. They were on track and on schedule, Bushyhead wanted to be in the new Cherokee settlements by the end of the coming Summer.

The next day about noon, after a brief rain shower, Bushyhead and Tuni reached the headwaters of Coosa Creek, where a well-beaten path southward started climbing in elevation toward a gap in the mountain wall. There were a few small farms with large fields in cultivation in the creek valley, some of them cabins which had been built by Cherokee, taken over by white settlers. Bushyhead could tell the original Indian cabins because of the construction of them.

As the trail mounted higher, sometimes they were closed in entirely in the mountain laurel thickets, breaking out occasionally to catch glimpses of the towering ridges above them. Suddenly, they stopped and looked downward at the muddy trail. Tuni's eyes grew wide and he grinned in delight.

Bears, Bushyhead grunted, and nodded in approval. Paw prints in the mud plainly showed a sow and a young cub had crossed the trail recently, since the morning rain.

Tuni, an expert tracker, better than men twice his age, plunged into the thicket and Bushyhead followed as best he could. Down and down they went, losing all the elevation they had gained on the rising trail. Soon they were in the bottom of a thick hollow, where the signs showed the bears were raking leaves in search of last Fall's chestnuts.

Bushyhead checked the load in his musket, he'd be ready if the shot presented itself. The mama bear would be good eating or they would gladly kill the cub. Young bear was especially tender and a favorite food of Bushyhead's. Tuni's bow and-arrow was good enough for deer, but would be of little use on the adult bear. However, the boy would earn his share of the meat with his excellent tracking.

Now the bear's trail followed a small stream and up ahead, Bushyhead saw a little clearing and then saw an Indian cabin, in surprisingly good condition. It had been obviously abandoned by an Indian who had left in the Removal.

Perhaps the whites had not found this one, Bushyhead wondered, or perhaps they did not want it. It was well-made, but there was no open land for farming which was what the whites usually wanted. There was just the little clearing, where a few vegetables might be grown.

Its location was really remote, but with the tumbling stream beside it, it would offer a fine retreat, he thought. A good place to eat the missionary's cornbread along with some fresh bear meat.

Tuni was running ahead now, excited by the chase, and he got between the cub and the sow bear, leisurely feeding on the chestnuts and acorns they were raking out of the leaves. Sensing what might happen with an angry mama bear, Bushyhead himself broke into a trot to join the action.

The boy and the little bear were staring at each other near the base of a huge chestnut tree, in a confrontation as old as the earth itself. There was no cruelty in the dim-witted youth, only the anticipation of bear dumplings, as he smiled and bent his bow. Frightened, the cub suddenly bawled and Bushyhead raised his gun, watching the woods ahead of them. Out of the side of his vision, he saw Tuni's arrow skewer the little bear and it bawled again in pain and terror, this time louder than the first.

The sow had heard the cub squalling, Bushyhead knew, and she might return ready to fight. Or she might simply run away, bears were unpredictable. Tuni drew his sheath knife and plunged it into the little bear's chest, immediately ending its life. Both Indians heard growling and crashing in the woods ahead but the old she-bear lost her nerve when she smelled the man-scent.

Never closer than fifty yards, she wheeled and turned to run from the human scent. Bushyhead had not even seen the bear until the quick movement of her turn. At that, he fired instinctively and heard the loud smack of the lead ball hitting home. The sow roared at the sharp pain, fell on her side for a split-second and jumped up and fled, leaving a good blood trail.

Bushyhead reloaded quickly and they took up the trail, carefully following the disturbed leaves and occasional blood spots. Bushyhead took the lead, with Tuni close behind. If the wounded bear charged them, the gun would save them. Tuni's bow was good enough for the little bear, but would be useless if the adult animal came down on them. Bushyhead looked at the terrain ahead very slowly and carefully before they went into the laurels on a low ridge.

The injured bear was taking them out of the area of the Indian cabin, across the ridge and apparently down into another stream. Wounded animals usually go to water, the elders always said, and this one was doing that in the late afternoon. Bushyhead hoped they found it before dark.

Down and down they went now, fearing to step too close to a wounded bear waiting in ambush for them. Two steps and then stop to look closely, then two or three more. They descended through more laurels, going down toward a small natural meadow where a stream was hidden by alders. The sun was getting lower and lower, the blood spots were showing more and more, meaning the bear was bleeding freely. Bushyhead wanted the bear to die and to be located before sundown.

Now they were into the edge of the alders, following the bear's trail which paralleled the small stream. The blood was a continual smear now, the animal apparently dragging itself. A few more steps and they sensed the animal to be near. Tuni wrinkled his nose, indicating he could smell the rank bearsmell.

Bushyhead strained to hear, to hear anything which could tell them if the bear was able to move, to threaten them. Standing on tip-toe, his eyes strained at the mass of alder trunks and grapevine ahead. Then he saw a patch of black fur and knew the bear was on the ground behind a fallen log maybe 30 yards ahead. In sign language, he told Tuni. They waited patiently for perhaps a quarter-hour. If the bear was dying, they would give it plenty of time. Finally, circling to their right to come up on the wounded animal from the side, the pair crept in for a good look.

The sow was quite dead, her lungs destroyed by Bushyhead's musket ball. She would weigh about two hundred pounds, plenty of good eating. Tuni was delighted, dancing around the fallen animal and giving his best turkey calls and chanting, but his companion's attention was elsewhere.

Bushyhead was staring at the stream beyond the bear. The setting sun's rays were creating a peculiar glow in the small creek. Saw sun setting in creek, is the way the Indian would describe it later to listeners.

Entranced, Bushyhead left the youth and dead bear momentarily and walked over to the creek to look. He saw a band of mica about two feet wide extending all the way across the stream bottom, about ten feet in width. Mica was not uncommon and the Cherokee used it in decorative objects. The mica reflecting the sunlight did not excite Bushyhead, but as he bent over to peer at the bright strip of mica, something else did excite him.

For there, running right beside the mica, was a larger, wider band of rotten quartz in the shallow clear creek. There were yellow grains of something clearly visible in the quartz, some of them almost as big as the kernels of corn they had shelled out at the Baptist mission.

Trembling all over, the big Indian waded into the swift creek and easily pried up a piece of the quartz with his belt knife. Holding it up to the fading sunlight, he threw his head back and laughed loudly as the gold nuggets imbedded in the milk-white quartz picked up the rays of the sunset.

Puzzled, Tuni had left the bear and had followed his companion but the boy had not entered the creek. He was even more puzzled now as the elated Bushyhead splashed loudly across the stream to the bank where the boy stood, waving the chunk of gold-bearing quartz and even beating the boy happily on the back. Such emotion by Bushyhead, who now started giving hoarse war-whoops, was just not understandable.

Shaking his head, the boy drew his knife and began to butcher the dead bear. Bushyhead continued to dance and sing strangely; the boy cut the bear into portions which they could carry back to the cabin .


Bushyhead woke from a deep sleep the next morning to the smell of fresh bear meat roasting in the fireplace. Tuni had also warmed the cornbread they were carrying from their mission stay and it made a delicious breakfast. They both gorged on the feast and Bushyhead belched loudly in content, staring at the chunk of gold-laden quartz in his hand, and did some heavy thinking.

First of all, there could be no more daylight fires in the fireplace of the old cabin. From now on, all their cooking must be done at night. They had seen little sign of white settlers nearby, but Bushyhead knew smoke rising from their new home might bring visitors.

It was barely dawn now so this one fire probably had not been seen. He kicked the fire to pieces, which puzzled Tuni.

No fire in day, only have fire at night, he told the boy in guttural Cherokee. Whites might see smoke.

He put the boy to work cutting all the bear meat into thin strips, which they would smoke over the nighttime fire and

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