Biographical / Historical
Fred Wiseman (1875-1961) was born in Santa Rosa, California, and after attending local schools he engaged in both the bicycle and automotive businesses. Wiseman won considerable fame racing Stoddard-Dayton cars on the West Coast as well as in the Chicago area. He became interested in aviation after attending the Wright brothers' homecoming celebration in 1909 and the first Los Angeles aviation meet at Dominguez Field in 1910.
After these two events, Wiseman was convinced he wanted to learn to fly and so he returned to his home in Santa Rosa and persuaded Ben Noonan to put up $10,000 to build a plane. Wiseman, along with J. W. Peters and D.C. Prentiss, built a biplane named the Wiseman-Peters. During July 1910, both Peters and Wiseman flew the Wiseman-Peters and the following year Wiseman entered the 1911 Aviation Meet at Selfridge Field, Michigan.
On February 17, 1911, Wiseman made the first airplane-carried mail flight officially sanctioned by any local U.S. post office and made available to the public when he carried mail, a bundle of newspapers and a sack of groceries from Petaluma, CA, to Santa Rosa, CA. (The first air mail flight sanctioned by the U.S. Post Office in Washington, D.C., took place on September 23, 1911, when Earle Ovington carried mail from Garden City, Long Island, to Mineola; and the first continuously scheduled U.S. air mail service began on May 15, 1918, with routes between Washington, Philadelphia, and New York.)
During 1911, Wiseman had an active season of exhibition work, including flying for one week at the California State Fair. However, after this season Wiseman gave up flying because he thought there was no future in it. He sold his plane and returned to the automobile business. He later worked for Standard Oil Company of California. Wiseman was a member of the Early Birds of Aviation, an organization of pilots who flew solo in an aircraft prior to December 17, 1916.
Weldon Cooke, another pioneer aviator from California, bought and modified the Wiseman-Peters aircraft, renaming it the Wiseman-Cooke. Cooke flew the Wiseman-Cooke for exhibition and air mail flights. The Wiseman-Cooke aircraft is currently part of the Smithsonian Institution's collections.