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Thanks to Guest Editor Bob Woodling for help researching this page.


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Arthur Simonin was born July 24, 1889 at Butler, PA. He died on January 6, 1950 (below).

The 1900 U.S. Census, his first, placed him at age 9 living with his parents and two sisters and four brothers in Cecil Township, PA. His father, Edward, at age 42, was listed as an "Invalid" on the Census form. An interesting finding in this Census is that both Simonin's parents were born in France, making him a first-generation immigrant. He was born in Pennsylvania.

At age 19, the 1910 Census again cited him living at Cecil with his parents. His father's infirmity was temporary, because he was now "Keeper" in a "Grocery Store," and his family had grown by two more brothers and a sister. His mother was a "Saleswoman" in the grocery store. Simonin was employed as a "Carpenter" doing "Bridgework." Two of his brothers (age 16 and 14) were also employed as laborers in "Bridgework." His younger (18) sister was employed as "Help" with a "Private Family."

Six years later, in July, 1916 Simonin enlisted in the Army. He entered the aviation school and remained there until August, 1917 when he was discharged with the rank of sergeant to assume a commission. His transition to officer is captured in the following document.

Simonin Commission, 1917 (Source: Woodling)

He did get a chance to visit home the Christmas holiday as documented in The Daily Notes, Canonsburg, PA,
December 18, 1916, below.

U. S. Aviator Visiting Here Arthur Simonin, a member of the United States army aviation corps, stationed on Long Island, is here to visit his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Edward Simonin in Spring Street. Mr. Simonin joined the aviation corps last July, and already has had considerable experience in flying. He has reached a height of 8,200 feet. He will return to his post after Christmas, and in February will be transferred to Aiken, S. C, for the remainder of the winter.

The following spring, The Daily Notes for April 10, 1917 documented his advancement in the service, below.

Captain Arthur Simonin of the aviation corps is now an instructor in flying at Kelly Field, South Antonio, Tex. He entered the service as a private less than two years ago, and was in training at Minneola, L. I. He was promoted to corporal and later advanced until he received a captain's commission in the aerial service.

Another furlough was cited in The Daily Notes, September 12, 1917, below.

Commissioned First Lieutenant Arthur Simonin, a member of the United States aviation corps, stationed at Minneola, L. I., has been spending a few days' furlough at his parents’ home in Spring street. He has been commissioned a first lieutenant in the corps, and has made many successful test flights. He has ascended to a height, of 4,000 feet.

About the same time as his transition to officer, Simonin appeared in an unidentified newspaper dated December 3, 1917. He is photographed rolling his own cigarette while sitting in the cockpit of an Army airplane, below.

A.E. Simonin Rolling His Own, December 3, 1917 (Source: Woodling)
A.E. Simonin Rolling His Own, December 3, 1917 (Source: Woodling)

The Daily Notes, September 4, 1918 reported his transfer to Europe, below.

Once Ran a Motor Sled But
Now Sails Plane for Uncle Sam
Only a few winters ago Canonsburgers were accustomed to see a young fellow go sailing along the streets on a little motor sled. By means of the novel vehicle which he had constructed, Arthur Simonin of 121 Spring street could ride up a hill just as easily as he could slide, down provided, of course, that snow covered the earth. One day a policeman stopped the sled. The cop stopped the sled, but not the boy. Arthur Simonin determined there and then that he would rise in the world. As a stepping stone he enlisted in the aviation section of the army, and after patient training he succeeded in rising thousands of feet. So apt was private Simonin in his training at Minneola, L.I. that by and by he became a corporal in the aviation service; then a sergeant, then a lieutenant, and today he holds a captain's commission in Uncle Sam's air service. Not only that, but he's on his way to fight the Boche from the skies that look down upon the western battle-front in France. And while a policeman once stopped the boy's little motor sled in Canonsburg, Simonin declares no Hun will stop him, once he gets into the fighting on the western front. Lieut. Quentin Roosevelt, recently shot down and killed behind the German lines in France, was trained for the air service by Captain Simonin. The Italian aviator with whom Simonin made the flight from Norfolk to Minneola also was killed recently. Two of the Captain's brothers are now in the army; two others expect to go soon in the draft, making five members of the family in the service. Captain Simonin has charge of two squadrons, or 300 men. Capt. Simonin has been spending a few days with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Edward Simonin, in Spring street, He has been stationed at an aviation field in Texas, where he has been acting as an instructor. He is now en route to an Atlantic port, and expects within a short time to be in France. There he will have charge of a squadron of aviators. One or two of his brothers are in the army. Last winter Capt. Simonin then a lieutenant accompanied a noted Italian flyer from Mineola to Norfolk.

The Daily Notes, February 11, 1919 reported his return to the U.S., below.

Arthur Simonin, who has been in France since last summer, has returned to New York, having been honorably discharged. After spending a few days with his wife and child in New York he will come to Canonsburg to visit his parents in Spring street. Capt. Simonin was in the aviation service and instructed flyers, both in this country and abroad. He was in France for six months. He is expected to reach Canonsburg the middle of February. Two brothers have been in the service of their country.

Later in 1919, Simonin, still in the military, was involved in a major round-trip air race between New York and Toronto, Canada. Below, from the Seattle Daily Times of Saturday, August 30, 1919, now captain Simonin appears (poorly rendered by the newspaper) in both the top and bottom images of this composite. In the top image he leans with his hand against "The Vampire," a deHavilland with a large water-cooled Liberty engine. In the bottom photo, he is second from the right holding a cigarette in his left hand undoubtedly rolled with genuine Bull Durham. Forty-one aircraft representing 30 different designs competed in the event, which began the previous Monday and ended on Saturday.

Air Race, Seattle Daily Times, August 30, 1919 (Source: Woodling)


The New York Times, August 27, 1919 (Source: Woodling)
The New York Times, August 27, 1919 (Source: Woodling)


That this was a grueling flight, even in the summer time, was illustrated in another, earlier article from The New York Times of August 27,1919. It reported on the fog, gale-force winds and cold faced by the pilots, especially as they approached Lake Erie and the Canadian border. Simonin was singled out, right, as he turned around in Toronto and headed back to Buffalo, NY and on to New York City.

The New York Times, April 20, 1919 (Source: Woodling)


A few months earler, he was assigned to pilot a captured Fokker aircraft in an aerial exhibition in support of a bond drive. His participation was documented in The New York Times of April 10, 1919, left.

The 1920 U.S. Census cited him at age 29 living in Hempstead, NY with his wife, Helen Cecelia (nee: McLaughlin; 18) and year old son Arthur E., Jr. His occupation was identified as "Captain" in the "U.S. Army."

A.E. Simonin Promotion, September 1, 1927 (Source: Woodling)
A.E. Simonin Promotion, September 1, 1927 (Source: Woodling)


He moved sometime in the next few years and a 1924 city directory from Moundsville, WV placed him and Helen at 1115 7th St. He was identified as a 1st lieutenant and commanding officer of Langin Field in Moundsville. Note the discrepancy in his rank. He wasn't promoted to captain until 1927, as cited in the Uniontown (PA) Morning Herald of September 1, 1927, above right.

The New York Times, October 3, 1924 (Source: Woodling)
The New York Times, October 3, 1924 (Source: Woodling)


Also in 1924 he competed in an open air meet at Dayton, OH. As reported in The New York Times of October 3, 1924, right. With more than 350 commercial and military airplanes on hand, it was estimated to be the largest group of aircraft ever assembled. Over 12,000 spectators attended the events. Simonin placed second in a 180 mile race among eleven Army pilots flying deHavilland aircraft with Liberty engines. Orville Wright attended the meet and was quoted in the article.

Two years later, Simonin landed and signed the Tucson Register on Friday May 14, 1926 at 1:40PM. He was solo in the Army Douglas O-2A he identified as 25-402. This airplane, manufacturer's S/N 236, was written off the Army books on February 7, 1930 at Decatur, IL. He identified his home base as Langin, WV. He was eastbound from San Diego, CA. He remained on the ground at Tucson until 2:10PM before continuing his trip to El Paso, TX.

Uniontown (PA) Morning Herald, February 12, 1930 (Source: Woodling)


Three years later he was stationed at France Field in the Panama Canal Zone as documented in The New York Times of August 4, 1929. He was mentioned in an article with another pilot who had just completed an outside loop, a risky and difficult aerobatic maneuver to perform with the aircraft of the time. His return from Panama was captured in the Uniontown (PA) Morning Herald of February 12, 1930, above right.

The New York Times, May 16, 1940 (Source: Woodling)


The 1930 Census

Simonin continued flying with the Army through the 1930s. An article in The New York Times of July 21, 1931 described his position on a board of enquiry after an air-to-air crash killed two Army aviators near Hartford, CT. A form submitted to the State of Pennsylvania documented his application for veteran's compensation. He won $10 per month for 20 months.

Findlay (OH) Republican-Courier, August 15, 1938 (Source: Woodling)


A news article in the Findlay (OH) Republican-Courier for August 15, 1938 documented an incident he had while ferrying a new aircraft to Dayton, OH, right.

The 1940 Census placed Simonin at age 51 living in Amherst, NY (northeast of Buffalo) with wife Helen (now 39) and his 19-year-old, single daughter, June. Son Arthur, Jr. was not living with them at that time. Simonin was now a Lt. Colonel in the U.S. Army Air Corps, earning the substantial salary of $5,000+ per year.

As WWII threatened, one of his duties was to fly a Curtiss P-40 from Buffalo to New York City for exhibition at the World's Fair. The flight was documented in The New York Times of May 16, 1940, left.

The only photograph of Simonin I have, other than the news advertisement above, is below from "Curtiss Hawk Fighters: Hawk Biplanes and the P-36, P-37, P-40, P-42 and Other Monoplane Variants" by Shamburger & Christy (1972). Simonin is seated on the left. Note fellow Register pilot Burdette S. Wright who was president and General Manager of Curtiss-Wright. Wright was no relation to the Wright Brothers, whose name was part of the company.


A.E. Simonin, Seated, Left, 1939 (Source: Woodling)
A.E. Simonin, Seated, Left, Ca. 1940s (Source: Woodling)

Curiously, sometime between the 1940 Census and 1941 there is a suggestion of another woman in his life, because a city directory from Buffalo, NY placed him living with "Barbara" at 1294 Hertel Avenue. I think the city directory was in error with the name, however, because Helen C. signed his death certificate and, in 1976, joined him in death in their cemetery plot in Arlington, VA. Regardless, on Google Earth today, the building at that address is two storeys, with shops below and apartments on the top floor. It is of 1940s-vintage.

Apropos his work in Buffalo with Curtiss-Wright, The Daily Notes, Canonsburg, PA, November 20, 1942 carried the following article.

Col. Simonin Canonsburg "Boy" Likely to Get High Air Force Job
The Bellringer, the official publication of Bell Aircraft Corporation pays high tribute in a recent publication to Col. Arthur E. Simonin, a Canonsburg man, who has just relinquished command of the Army Air Force on the Niagara frontier and is placed in charge of Storage Depot No. 3 of the United States Army Air Force at Buffalo. There is an excellent picture of this famous Army airman who was born and reared in Canonsburg and who has been one of the trail blazers of Army aircraft for many years. The Bellringer says the following about him: 'Col. Arthur E. Simonin, resident Army Air Force representative for Niagara Frontier area plants, working on Air Corps contracts, has been transferred to the Air Service Command. Col. Simonin has a continuous flying record since World War I. Since coming to Buffalo he has done much to facilitate heavy production schedules and has earned the respect of all with whom he has come in contact. A World War veteran with 27 years in the Air Force, Col. Simonin's new assignment puts him in charge of Storage Depot No, 3, In Buffalo. However, he is expected to receive a new assignment very soon. Col. Simonin has been stationed in this area since 1937.


Obituary, A.E. Simonin, January 7, 1950
(Source: Woodling)
Obituary, A.E. Simonin, January 7, 1950 (Source: Woodling)


A.E. Simonin retired from the Army February 29, 1944. He committed suicide at his home in Chalfont, PA as reported in the Doylestown (PA) Daily Intelligencer for January 7, 1960, left. His grim death certificate describes the condition of his death as, "Penetrating wound of brain. Gunshot" at 10:30AM on January 6th. His interment record for the Arlington National Cemetery is below.

A.E. Simonin, Interment Record, 1950 (Source: Woodling)
A.E. Simonin, Interment Record, 1950 (Source: Woodling)

His grave marker at the Arlington National Cemetery is below, right. Helen joined him in 1976.

A.E. Simonin, Grave Stone, 1960 (Source: FindaGrave)
A.E. Simonin, Grave Stone, 1960 (Source: FindaGrave)





The Register

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