Meet the young Benjamin Thomas Epps, a true American pioneer with a vigor for all things mechanical. A Georgia native, by the time Ben had turned 17 he had abandoned his studies at the Georgia Institute of Technology and returned to his home to Athens in order to pursue his passions. To support himself and his growing family he opened a fistful of businesses in downtown Athens including an electrical contracting business, a bicycle shop, and the town’s first auto garage. Three years later, the still teenaged Epps finished construction of a prototype aircraft assembled from bicycle components, a twin cylinder 15hp Anzani motorcycle engine, and wings sewn together by his mother. His design is credited as one of the first to use wheels to aid in take-off and landing, as well as the use of a buggy seat allowing the pilot to sit upright. With his first successful powered flight in 1907 Epps not only became the first man in Georgia to take to the sky, but he earned his place as one of America’s earliest aviation trail blazers. Here young Ben Epps stands with his Yale motorcycle inside his bicycle shop in downtown Athens, GA ca. 1907.

Read more about the life of Ben Epps in the pages of Georgia Motorcycle History: The First 60 Years 1899-1959 available now HERE