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Famous Pioneers in Iowa's Transportation History

Carl Bates was born Jan. 27, 1884, the son of Edward Henry Bates and Cora (Ballard) Bates, pioneer residents of Clear Lake, Iowa.

Bates graduated from Clear Lake High School in 1903. He went on to graduate from the Armour Institute of Technology in Chicago, Ill., at age 20, as a mechanical engineer.

At the young age of 14 (1898), Carl S. Bates built and flew the first man-carrying glider in Iowa. Despite strong objections by his parents, he also went on to construct and fly a Chanute-type biplane glider the following year.

Bates learned to fly in 1905, and continued to design and build gliders (1905-06). During 1907-11, he designed, built and flew biplanes and monoplanes. He built his first airplane in 1907, about the same time the Wright brothers patented their plane. He manufactured aircraft motors between 1907-17.

In 1907 Bates established Bates Aeroworks. His company manufactured the Bates engines. In 1912 he sold out to the Heath Aerial Vehicle Company that manufactured aeroplane parts and accessories, and sold them by mail order to builders of flying machines.

An article published in the Chicago Sunday Tribune, dated Sept. 18,1910, named Bates a "designer and constructor of flying machines."

After the war Armistace of 1918, Bates started Creative Engineering, a laboratory that specialized in "inventions to order," "imagineering" and new product design. From his laboratory, Bates perfected countless inventions such as power and kitchen tools, production and movie theater machines, kiddy cars, toys, talking and walking dolls, and motorized vehicles.

Over a period of 50 years, Bates contributed many "How-To-Make-It" illustrated articles to magazines such as Popular Mechanics, Fly, Aeronautique Journal, and Science and Mechanics.

Bates continued to work in Chicago until his health failed. He then returned to Clear Lake to live with relatives. At the time of his death (age 72), he was working on the development of a small helicopter.