John Rozet Drexel II (1890-1936)

"Jack" Rozet Drexel II, Aviator, of Philadelphia & Newport, R.I.

He was born at Philadelphia and was brought up between France and the States. On the outbreak of World War I, he tried to join both the British and French armies, but was rejected each time on the grounds of physical disabilities. Returning to the States, he was also rejected on the same grounds from the U.S. Army, and finally went to France with the Y.M.C.A. Once there, he succeeded in enlisting with the U.S. Navy and served for the final year of the war. In 1919, after his marriage to Elizabeth Thompson, his father bought him his first aeroplane for $5,000. Drexel promptly crashed it into a river, but he'd caught the flying bug: His father then bought him a new one for $9,000... which he crashed into the family boathouse two months later! His next two planes met their demise on the driveway of his Long Island estate. Plane No.5 was smashed into his Newport home, Cliff Walk; and, planes 6 & 7 ended up wrapped around the houses of his neighbors near Philadelphia. Plane 8 had a faulty propeller which snapped mid-air and saw him brought to a halt in his wife's flower garden; but, his luck ran out with Plane 9 which he nose-dived near Paris while visiting his mother, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down. He died at the Dr Slocum Sanatorium in Beacon, New York, survived by his wife and two children, leaving a fortune of $50 million.
Contributed by Mark Meredith on 13/09/2020 and last updated on 13/09/2020.