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Headlines Fades Out: Charles
A. Levine, Who Once Flew Atlantic, Forgotten by Public
NEW YORK, Feb. 27. Many men have flown the seas, but none quite as Charles A. Levine did.
But then, aviation has known no one quite like this nervous New York businessman who leaped into the headlines ten years ago and flew back and forth among them -- like an acrobat who swings from trapeze to trapeze.
He was the first trans-Atlantic aerial stowaway -- probably the only person who ever flew non-stop from New York to Europe without a hat.
Levine was one of yesteryear's most involved headlines, for he followed the fame that accrued from his daring stowaway flight by becoming involved in many matters that had nothing to do with flying.
The year 1927 was the pioneer period of over-the-ocean flying. Levine had built the huge plane named the Columbia, and Clarence Chamberlin was chosen to pilot it. Levine had wanted to go as a passenger, but it was thought unwise to add an ounce's unnecessary weight to the plane.
That was the reason he stole a ride on his own plane.
Back in the United States, Levine began talking about bigger and better planes, bigger and better flights. The only one of importance was a flight from New York to Havana, with Mabel Boll, called "the Queen of Diamonds," as a passenger.
Called "The Millionaire Stowaway" in 1927, Levine was testifying five years later that he was penniless.
Time soon blurred the headlines. He came back to black type in 1934 when he was found unconscious in the kitchen of a friend's home, with five gas jets turned on.
He recovered. Less than a year later he was in Nevada getting a divorce; and on the same day he was married again.
Star in Declension
Levine's star rose in the days of venturesome, thrilling, long distance flying. It began to fade, as a headline, when aviation graduated to a prosaic means of transportation.
Five short years after he flew the ocean as a stowaway, a 225-pound bronze bust of him was in the window of a secondhand dealer who wanted $500 for it. But there was no rush of buyers.
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