FIRST FEARLESS FLIGHT REMEMBERED
Duluth One - The Beginning of Duluth’s Aviation History
Duluth One started bravely from the ice on the lake on February 26, 1913. Near the immediate vicinity of Third Avenue East, pilot Rosto "rose like one of the early spring birds. He went for a quarter of a mile and the flying was fine, if rather cold." Duluth Herald Feb. 27, 1913
Oliver Andre Rosto is Duluth’s first pilot and aircraft designer. Of Norwegian dissent, Ole Augustinussen Rosto arrived in America aboard the RMS Celtic of the White Star Line. Just 21 years old, he entered the port of New York to pursue the promise of America. He settled in Duluth at 1012 East First Street, what is now St. Luke’s Hospital, with his new name, Oliver Andre Rosto. He lived in Duluth from 1907 to 1917. He then went to Europe to train pilots for war effort.
From 1907 to 1913, he designed and built the Rosto monoplane in the Duluth YMCA and the Duluth Auditorium. The monoplane was made with hickory, elm, silk, rubber, piano wire, and a Curtis 45 horsepower motor. Rosto is believed to be one of the first designers to cover an aircraft fuselage. The 1913 cost of the monoplane was $1,500 or $44,000 in current dollars.
During the winter of 1913, he successfully made 12 flights from skis off the frozen Duluth harbor and Lake Superior. There were no airports and the ice on St. Louis Bay and Lake Superior became his runway. His monoplane reached a speed of 40 mph and a height of 100 feet. He christened his monoplane Duluth One after his new country and home.
Rosto is an "Early Bird of Aviation", one of only 600 international pilots who flew before 1916. His pilot license is number 131.
He continued his aviation career after his war service. From 1922 to 1953, he worked for the Civil Aeronautics Administration. The dynamic new aircraft industry and economy needed organization and oversight.
He christened his monoplane Duluth One after his new country and home.
In 1952, Rosto was decorated "The Civil Aeronautics Administration Medal for Distinguished Service to International Aviation". In 1954, he was awarded the "American Order of Merit" for his contributions to civil aviation. From 1930 to 1950, he was a member of the United States Air Force Reserve and retired a Colonel. He died at the age of 90 from a stroke.
The legacy of the Oliver Rosto and the Duluth One is a pioneering spirit, a visionary perspective, and a lifetime of achievement.