Coats in Harnett County, North Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)
Erected 2005 by North Carolina Office of Archives and History. (Marker Number H-113.)
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Air & Space • Entertainment. A significant historical date for this entry is December 25, 1929.
Location. 35° 24.297′ N, 78° 40.342′ W. Marker is in Coats, North Carolina, in Harnett County. Marker is at the intersection of South McKinley Street (State Highway 55) and West Hamer Street, on the right when traveling south on South McKinley Street. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 186 South McKinley Street, Coats NC 27521, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 9 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Campbell University (approx. 3.8 miles away); Campbell House (approx. 4½ miles away); Paul Eliot Green (approx. 4½ miles away); Smiley's Falls (approx. 6½ miles away); G. B. Cashwell (approx. 7.6 miles away); Cornelius HarnettHarnett County Veterans Memorial (approx. 7.8 miles away); Alexander Lillington (approx. 8.1 miles away).
Also see . . .
1. Waymarking: Alton Stewart (H-113) Coats, NC. (Submitted on June 8, 2010, by Cleo Robertson of Fort Lauderdale, Florida.)
2. News Release: Pioneers of Aviation tells the stories of Tar Heel inventors, daredevils, etc. (Submitted on June 8, 2010, by Cleo Robertson of Fort Lauderdale, Florida.)
1. Alton Stewart
Alton Stewart developed his interest in flying at Camp Bragg’s Pope Field, during World War I. About two years after the war he began flying regularly and, from 1924 to 1929, worked with Curtiss-Wright Flying Service in Raleigh. He often gave public exhibitions and became one of the best-known pilots in the state. Press accounts of the period give Stewart considerable credit for popularizing aviation in the state.
Ben Dixon McNeill of the Raleigh News and Observer documented his exploits. McNeill wrote the story of Stewart’s death in a crash in Dunn on Christmas Day of 1929. The newspaper paid tribute to Stewart with an editorial page drawing captioned “He died in man’s conquest of the air.” In his story McNeill wrote that Stewart was “the first North Carolina pilot to be licensed
The best evidence indicates that there was no national or state agency certifying pilots in aviation’s earliest days. When such authorization did begin, there was no single, central authority for many years. The 1950-51 North Carolina Almanac called Stewart the “god-father of Tar Heel aviation.”
Family members have upheld the memory of Stewart. In 1968 they erected a tombstone in Coats bearing information about his 1926 license, certified by the “Federal Aeronautique International” and signed by Orville Wright. That document and other memorabilia since have been donated to the North Carolina Museum of History.
(1) Dunn Daily Record, July 30, 1968
(2) Raleigh News and Observer, December 26, 1929; June 17, 1968; and March 10, 2004
(3) Thomas C. Parramore, First to Fly: North Carolina and the Beginnings of Aviation (2002)
— Submitted June 12, 2010, by Cleo Robertson of Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Credits. This page was last revised on March 24, 2021. It was originally submitted on June 8, 2010, by Cleo Robertson of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. This page has been viewed 1,145 times since then and 20 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. submitted on June 8, 2010, by Cleo Robertson of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. 10, 11. submitted on June 10, 2010, by Cleo Robertson of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. • Craig Swain was the editor who published this page.