The Register's Pitcairn autogyro, Good News III, piloted by Charles S. Gatschet, obviously was a gimmick to promote the newspaper (it visited 112 Iowa cities that year). But when partnered with local folks who had products to market everyone came away happy. In Chariton's case, the town's commerical club had organize a giant Dollar Day sale.
The autogyro looked something like a helicopter, but wasn't. The rotor blades were not powered by the plane's engine but rather the upward thrust of air diverted from its drive propeller. That allowed the plane to take off in a very short distance, stop almost instantly in flight, then descend vertically onto a precise target.
The pilot (above left) was a flight veteran of World War I who in 1928 became The Register's first pilot (the company's first plane was named Good News I). Gatschet (1896-1945) was 35 at the time of the flight from Des Moines to Chariton, but returned to serve in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II and was killed, age 48, in a transport plane crash in India on April 16, 1945. He is buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu.
But that was more than a decade into the future on that lovely October afternoon in 1931 when the daring young man and his flying machine were the center of attention in Chariton. Here's a report of the visit from The Herald-Patriot of Oct. 22:
Approximately 1,000 Chariton people surged out onto a field in east Chariton Thursday afternoon to see Charles Gatschet, pilot of the Des Moines Register and Tribune autogiro, set the queer looking plane down on the field.
They remained to see Chariton's first citizen, Mayor A.C. Riebel, make the inaugural flight and then seeing him land safely, the other businessmen of Chariton took wings for a day and rode above Chariton with the peculiar windmill blades of the giro whirling above their uneasy heads.
Special police, organized hastily under the leadership of Theo Rosa, city clerk, and Henry Perry, city marshall, patrolled the small roads leading to the field and kept traffic moving throughout the day. More than 500 cars jammed the field and adjacent roads.
The field was densely populated with people, a large number of whom were school children, released early from studies that they might see the latest in aviation.
Carrier boys of the Register & Tribune, as a reward for securing a certain number of new customers, were taken for a short flight over the city. L. E. Marsden, city circulation agent for the company, directed the rides of the boys.
The plane arrived in Chariton simultaneous with the announcement of (the) Dollar Day bargain festival, the greatest here in several years. Many came to town for the dual purpose of seeing the new plane and to participate in the buying festival. (Des Moines Register archive photo)