In 1910, pioneer aviator Art Smith was as celebrated as any movie star might be today. He thrilled audiences with his barnstorming feats, doing dives, death spirals, sky writing and loop-de-loops, and night flights using phosphorus fireworks. He was a consummate showman and had he t died in 1926, his name probably would be familiar to most Americans. He glamorized and popularized aviation while testing the boundaries of aeronautical principles. As a young man he longed to fly before he had ever seen an airplane. His parents believed in him, and he was fortunate to have a best friend named Al Wertman who helped him build an airplane. His fame spread around the globe and in 1916, the Japanese offered him USD 10,000 for a series of exhibitions. His flying skills inspired a young Wiley Post to a life of aviation. And after Smith's death, when Lindbergh flew over Fort Wayne and dipped his wings, he gave credit to the Bird Boy Art Smith. The story of this rising star in American aviation is one of adventure, romance, scandal and history. Using Smith's own autobiographical writings, the story is also a factual account of events in early aviation. The book includes photographs and postcards in Art Smith's own handwriting mailed to Al Wertman.
Rachel Sherwood Roberts also wrote Crisis at Pemberton Dike in 1984 and Auburn Is A Dancing Lady in 1999. Her work has appeared in regional and national publications. For fifteen years, Roberts wrote the View and Review column for the Evening Star in Auburn, Indiana. She has written a number of cover stories for Traces of Indiana including one about Art Smith (fall, 1998). Roberts lives in Auburn.