Sandusky's Ausmus a hall-of-fame aviator

SANDUSKY History knows Reinhardt Ausmus as an early aviator. Bob Daniel knows him as a family friend. Soon all
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010



History knows Reinhardt Ausmus as an early aviator.

Bob Daniel knows him as a family friend.

Soon all of Ohio will know him as a veteran worthy of the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame.

Next month when Gov. Ted Strickland officiates the induction of the Hall's class of 2007, Ausmus will take his place among other renowned Buckeye veterans.

Daniel nominated Ausmus, his former neighbor, after a discussion with his barber and the president of the Erie County Historical Society.

The Ausmuses were Daniel's godparents.

"We spent time in his house since they had no children," Daniel said. "We were very close to his family during the Depression. They had toys in their home for us."

Ausmus was born in 1896 and spent his childhood in an orphanage, eventually settling in Sandusky as an adult. He flew his first self-built plane here in 1912.

Years later, in a speech Ausmus delivered on early aviation in the Sandusky area, he described the ordeal of building and flying his first plane.

"In those days you had three classes: 1. The military; 2. The man from the family of wealth; 3. Fellows like myself."

Ausmus told the audience that fellows like himself had to finance projects on their own. It took him two years to have the financial means to build the plane. During the construction of the plane he allowed himself 10 cents a day for meals, including a tin bucket of coffee that he made into two parts water and one part coffee to make it stretch farther.

At times Ausmus even used broken glass to saw the wood used to construct his first plane when his secondhand saw wouldn't do.

Ausmus went on to become an early instructor and aircraft designer who worked closely with prominent aviation pioneer Tom Benoist at his flying school at what is today Battery Park.

Ausmus' flights with the Benoist Aeroplane Company earned him wings with the Early Birds, an organization of aviation pioneers.

While enlisted in the 198th Air Squadron in Columbus, Ausmus trained pilots for World War I.

By 1947 he had returned to Sandusky as the permanent service officer of the local American Legion. He also held the post of service officer of the Erie County Soldier's Relief Commission for 20 years.

Ausmus retired in 1969, after devoting much of his life to working with the veterans of Erie County. Ausmus' contributions to veteran services and aviation have been honored on prior occasions by the city of Sandusky and the U.S. Air Force in conjunction with the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in Dayton.

"It was one of those projects that you love to do," Daniel said of nominating Ausmus to the Hall. "It was gratifying he was elected."