Aviation Pioneer. Known as the "Bad Boy of the Air," he taught himself how to fly in 1910, and built experimental planes until 1912, when he went to work for aircraft designer Glenn Curtiss. When World War I started he joined the Royal Flying Corps, and trained Royal Navy pilots in Canada. In 1917 he was sent to the United States, where he trained United States Army Signal Corps pilots at Long Island. Commissioned into the United States Navy, by 1925 he was a Lieutenant. In 1927, he and a fellow pilot set an endurance record of over 51 hours in the air. In May of 1927, with explorer Admiral Richard Byrd as co-pilot, he made a transatlantic flight from Long Island to France (a story has been told that during the flight Admiral Byrd had to strike him on the head with a fire extinguisher after Acosta became very intoxicated). In 1936 he and other American pilots joined the Republic forces in Spain to fight fascists forces during the Spanish-American War; Acosta and the Americans were dubbed the "Yankee Squadron". He delighted in flying under bridges and doing touch and goes on the roof tops of Manhattan skyscrapers. When a passenger once asked him for the time he replied, "I don't know, bit I'll find out," and he buzzed the clock tower of the Metropolitan Life building. In December of 1951 he collapsed in a New York City bar and was hospitalized with tuberculosis. He died at the Jewish Consumptive's Relief Society sanitarium in Colorado.
Bio by: Tom Todd
PILOT, BYRD TRANS- ATLANTIC FLIGHT 1927
PIONEER PILOT AND ENGINEER