Born in New Britain, Connecticut, Charles Hamilton's (1885-1914) first experience with flight is when as a teenager he jumped out of the second story window of his school building holding an umbrella. Hamilton took up hot air ballooning and parachute jumping at circuses and fairs at the age of 18. In 1906 Hamilton teamed up with Roy Knabenshue and began piloting dirigibles. In 1909 he toured Japan with a dirigible and in the same year became an exhibition pilot for Glenn Curtiss aeroplanes.
In 1910 Hamilton participated in the Los Angeles Air Meet in January, won a prize of $10,000 for flying from New York City to Philadelphia in June, and in October flew at the New York International Air Meet. 1911 found Hamilton flying with Moisant's International Aviators who were a group of aviators who toured the United States performing daredevil/barnstorming flights. During one of his performances with this group in El Paso, Texas, he used his plane to observe troop engagements over Cuidad Juarez, Mexico, between Mexican Government troops and rebels. This is one of the earliest recorded uses of a plane for military purposes.
Hamilton suffered from tuberculosis and died from a lung hemorrhage in 1914. He was known as a true daredevil pilot. He would fly anything anywhere and because of this he was involved in many crashes. At the time of his death Hamilton was reported to have had two replaced ribs and metal plates in both his shin bone and skull.