Stolen Plane

“Plane Inventor Jailed Here for Stealing Plane”

from The Brazil Times: July 30, 1932.

Harry KNOWLTON, inventor of the Lion monoplane, which the Brazil Aircrafts Corp., manufactured, and one of the owners of that concern, is a prisoner in the Clay County jail charged with automobile banditry and petit larceny. He was arrested by the sheriff of Lawrence County at Bedford late yesterday on advices from this city after Detective Guy BOLIN had tracked him down in a two weeks’ search.

Nothing was known of KNOWLTON when he first came to Brazil last winter and interested some of our business men in financing the manufacture of his plane. Since he disappeared from Brazil over two weeks ago with one of the corporation’s planes, Detective BOLIN has learned that he is known under six or seven different aliases, has been arrested on 12 different changes one of them a federal charge, and has served four sentences.

His first criminal record has to do with a sentence he received which sent him to the Pennsylvania reform school at Huntington, Pa., in 1918. From that time on he appears to have been pretty busy in transgressing the law for he served two sentences in Ohio and on March 11th, 1927, was sentenced to the Michigan prison at Jackson, Mich., for 3 to 10 years for fraud. Just previous to this KNOWLTON had been deported from Canada to the United States on charges of fraud. His various arrests were on charges of fraud, chasing bad checks and obtaining money under false pretenses. (He used seven various aliases under which he committed these violations.)

KNOWLTON loaded one of the monoplanes manufactured at the local plant on a trailer over two weeks ago and hitching it to his automobile, took the lane to Springville, near Bedford, where he hid it in an abandoned house for two weeks. Later he took the plane to a garage in Bedford and proceeded to set it up and tried to interest Bedford businessmen in financing a company for the manufacture of the plane.

Before he had his plans well under way he discovered that the officers of the Brazil aircraft Corp. were trying to locate him and that they had learned he was at Bedford. He immediately loaded the plane back on the trailer and was ready to pull out when the sheriff at Bedford placed him under arrest and turned him over to Deputy Sheriff Frank GOBLE who went to Bedford after him. The stolen plane was also returned here.

KNOWLTON is charged with automobile theft as well, as the auto he drove away he had purchased on installments and had failed to meet his payments. It is also claimed that he took with him a number of pieces of furniture leased from a local furniture house. This is the basis of the charge of petit larceny.

KNOWLTON appears to have been associated with criminals in all of his undertakings. He formerly operated a shop in Chicago where he employed ex-convicts. Two of them were captured here when they attempted to steal two welding outfits from the local aircrafts plant. They claimed that KNOWLTON told them they could take anything they wanted out of the factory here. While they were in jail here they obtained saws, which enabled them to saw their way out of jail, and officers believe that KNOWLTON assisted them in getting the saws.

KNOWLTON was arraigned in the Clay Circuit court this morning on a charge of auto banditry and petit larceny and he entered a plea of not guilty in each and the bond was fixed at $5,000 and he was sent back to jail to await his trial which will come up in September or October…

Clay County Indiana