Aviation History in Arkansas City, Kansas


[Note: Article in second paragraph called Beech AWalter H. Beach...of Beach Air-craft.@ Also, Hume infers Walter Beech was a partner of Hill & Williams. Believe the earlier articles disprove this. MAW]


SOURCE: Arkansas City Daily Traveler, May 9, 1940, issue.

Aviation Has a 20-Year History in Arkansas City.

Aviation so far as Arkansas City, Kansas, was concerned was just a newborn infant at the time Roy Hume, a member of the group of 1920 "pioneers", took a picture showing Mr. and Mrs. Errett Williams and their planeCone of the first in Arkansas CityCa JN4D Curtiss, called a "Jennie". By 1940 Hume was about the only member still active. Hume also had one of the first planes in operation in 1920 at Arkansas City, a J-1 Standard. Another of Arkansas City's early pilots, army-trained Beachy Musselman, was no longer flying by 1940.

Errett Williams was killed in Texas a few years prior to the interview held with Roy Hume in 1941. Hume stated that Pete Hill, who operated the first air field in Arkansas City with Errett Williams and Walter H. Beech, had become a state airport inspector in Idaho. Beech, the third member of that pioneering trio, was president of Beech Aircraft at Wichita.

There were two airports in operation at the same time. Williams, Beech, and Hill operated their flying fieldClocated just north of the cityCuntil their hangar was destroyed by fire. At the same time Cecil J. Lucas and Hume, another pair of air pioneers, operated their air field south of town, site of the Arkansas City airport in 1940.

Hume stated that he had never been a pilot himself, but there were many of them in Arkansas City in the 1920s. The roster of fliers included Williams, Beech, Lucas (a Wichita pilot in the 1940s), the late Dick Phillips, the late Shirley DeVore, Beachy Musselman, and a pilot named Nevell. Nevell had flown for Hume and was killed while in government air mail service east of Wichita in the late 1930s.

Another famous early-day flier, Hume said, was the late Jimmy Ward, who had been associated with the internationally-known Wright brothers. Ward flew throughout most of aviation's history, and died of a stomach ailment two years prior to the interview.

Following the Hume-Lucas and the Beech-Williams-Hill airports, a field was leased by the Chamber of Commerce south of Arkansas City. This field was in operation until 1930 when a fire destroyed the hangar and seven planes. Reede Farrell, Johnny Boggs, and Jack Lightstone were among those who lost planes in that fire. Both Boggs and Lightstone received flying training at Chickasha, Oklahoma. Another flyer who used this field, Merritt KirkpatrickCinstructed by Irl S. BeachCwas recently killed in a crash in Alaska, Hume said.

Irl S. Beach had become an inspector in a big aircraft factory in San Diego, Hume stated. After the hangar fire south of town in 1930, Beach and Hume leased and operated an airport 22 miles north of Arkansas City and continued in operation until 1935. At that time Johnny Boggs and Hume leased a field south of the city. In 1937, Hume and Boggs sold their operation to Tom Smyer. In 1938 the City of Arkansas City took over rental of the field and it became the municipal airport.

At the time of this article, there were two fliers holding private licenses in Arkansas City: John Corlett and Lloyd Pickett. There were three others holding a solo rating, which permitted them to fly anywhere in the United States so long as they did not take up passengers. They were: Jack Axley, Earl Haines, and Perry Grainger. There were eight others who held either at that time or previously students' permits, allowing them to make solo flights so long as they remained near their home airport: Jack Lightstone, Clyde Dorrance, Raymond Mathiasmeier, Leonard Estep, Harold Gilbert, Bob Leach, Johnny Vaughn, and Dodson Givens.






Flying French-built SPADs, Captain Eddie Rickenbacker of the 94th Aero Squadron was the top-scoring ace in the USAAS during World War I with 26 victories. When the war ended in November 1918, 3,800 of the 7,889 USAAS aircraft were from foreign manufacturers.



Early Airplanes in A.C. and the Fliers

It took a World War to make America really air minded. After the war Arkansas City was one of the places where Air Force fliers congregated.

According to Arthur Walker [known as D. Arthur Walker, he became prominent attorney in Arkansas City] the first plane to arrive here was a rotary engine, frail monoplane, probably a Blériot. It came to the old military air field on East Madison Avenue. The pilot was a barnstormer. The pilot would watch the smoke from neighboring smokestacks to determine the direction and velocity of the wind. When they seemed right to him, he would take off, reaching an altitude of three or four hundred feet, then make a circular flight for about three minutes before landing.

John Robson says the first flier to locate in Arkansas City was Errett Williams. The day Williams arrived in Arkansas City, John saw him and when he buzzed the city tower knew he was looking for a landing. John had an old Dodge. He used a gunny sack for a signal fastened to the top of his car. He had hunted rabbits out in the north hills and knew a good landing place. Errett followed the improvised sock signal and landed accompanied by Mrs. Williams. John brought them to town and they registered at the Osage Hotel.

After the finish of World War I the government sold large wooden hangars for $500 each to help stimulate interest in aviation.

Pete Hill and Errett Williams put up a hangar north of the city about 50 yards southeast of what is now Pizza Hut.

Art Guhel???? had won the race from California to Honolulu and his plane was so large he brought it to the Arkansas City hangar for storage, as most all other hangars in the area were too small.

The hangar put up south of town was also a government hangar.

A small hangar was built south of the Arthur Walker home and was used by Jack Lighstone and others in 1925-6.

Another small hangar was constructed on the Baird farm west of Arkansas City.

Fostine Moncrief's 91-year-old mother, Mrs. W. M. Mullen??? tells of one time when Roy Hume "captured" her and carried her bodily to his plane, followed by a trip circling over Arkansas City.



Article dated July 30, 1971.

Airplane Ascension Was Big Event Here For City in 1910.

Airplane Ascension! This was a big event of 1910 in Arkansas City. It took place in the old Ball Park at Madison and F Street, and was attended by a great crowd, which was anxious to see the much-talked about "flying machine" in action. . . .



One time when the fliers north of town were to hold a flying circus, Errett Williams, who was a close friend of Major Tinker (for whom the Oklahoma base is now named) wrote to the major asking him to assist with their show. He came with eight planes. One of the pilots misjudged the distance while landing and the plane fell over the edge of the bluff. Major Tinker was so infuriated that he stripped the pilot of his wings.

[Earlier articles make one big lie of above.]

Mrs. W. M. Patten of rural Arkansas City, sister of one of the early fliers, tells the following.

"My brother, Cecil Lucas, leased the land for the south hangar. The fliers associated with him were Pete Hill, Errett Williams, and Roy Hume. Roy had a block??? about soloing and Cecil piloted for him.

Cecil Lucas was with Eddie Rickenbacker's famous 94th ("Hat in the Ring") Aero Squadron in World War I. He flew for Cessna in Wichita and was Governor of Aeronautics at the time he was killed.

Mrs. Dan Stark says that her uncle, Harold Wooldridge, was a stuntman for these fliers on their barnstorming trips. He walked on the wings in mid-air.



Early Fliers Here And Their Planes

The first airplane hangar in Arkansas City was erected out on a bluff north of town. It was located west of where the Methodist Church and the Valley View Manor are now situated.

Walter Beech, Pete Hill, Beachy Musselman, Dick Phillips, and John Robson had seven planes stored there in the north hangar. John Robson had bought his plane, government surplus, for two cents a pound, crated and sight unseen. It cost him about $400.00. [She also wrote in pencil ... ("one time")]

[Early articles make no reference to Musselman, Phillips, Robson having planes stored in the north hangar at time of fire. MAW]

There was a second flying service south of town with a hangar on land that Cecil Lucas had leased. Roy Hume, Jack Lightstone, Irl ("Cactus") Beach, and Cecil operated the service and did a lot of barnstorming.



Bess commented time and again about the two books written "Between the Rivers" and the problems she had with different people telling her "after the fact" that there were errors.

She said:

"I think the worst blow came in Wichita. Dorothy Lord invited me to talk about the books before a group of which she is a member.

"I said to myself, 'Wichita, Yes. I'll tell them what Dwight Moody's daughter told me about her father and the man who became the head of Beech Aircraft." Veda had said, "Dwight Moody, Roy Hume, and Ira Beach had been interested in a flying service here. When one of the flyers [this time she wrote "flyers" instead of "fliers"] was killed, the service broke up and Ira Beach went to Wichita.

"I had some pleasure in telling Dorothy's friends that Arkansas City had once been the residence of Ira BeachClater president of Beech Aircraft."

When several women came to speak to me after I had finished, four or five said, "Was Ira Beach the same as Walter Beech?" "I don't know," I said. "All I know is the information I received at the time of the interview."

Well, they all told me that Walter Beech was the president of the Aircraft Corporation.

Naturally, the first thing I did when I came home was to begin to check with old timers here.

I wrote Mrs. Beech, Walter's widow.

Received a nice letter and a fine book: "History of Beechcraft". Mrs. Beech said they knew of no Ira Beech, but there was an EARL BEACHCHE SPELLED HIS NAME WITH AN "A" AND NOT A DOUBLE "E".

I called Albert Beach of rural Arkansas City, asking him if he knew Ira Beach. "Yes, he was my father," he said. "Was he a flier?" I asked. "No, that was my Uncle Irl (spelled IRL).

So Mrs. Beech's "Earl Beach" was probably Albert Beach's Uncle IRL because Uncle Irl did go to Wichita.




It was about the year 1920.

Early one morning, Walter Beech came to Art Hill's car repair shop, seeking employment. The shop was located in the basement of the Dye building at 500 South Summit Street, formerly the Dye carriage factory.

Clyde Armstrong was working for Art Hill at that time. He remembered after Beech was hired, he asked Art to advance him money, that he might go buy his breakfast before starting to work. At that time Beech didn't own a car, he didn't smoke, he only spent money for necessities, nor was he interested in girls. Clyde owned a Chevie touring car, and he and Beech took many rides together.

Later Beech bought an old army surplus biplane that was in need of repairs. Art Hill let him put the plane in his shop. Beech and others, including Clyde, worked nights repairing the plane. They were called "rags and sticks" planes, since the wings were a wooden frame, covered with a canvas-like material. The material was stretched tightly over the frame, then coated with a shellac-like liquid called "dope." The "dope" would shrink the fabric, making it exceedingly tight on the frame. It also water proofed the fabric.

When Beech was ready to start on his barnstorming tour of the country, he wanted Clyde to go with him, however he declined because his mother was in poor health.

Such are some of the remembrances of when Walter Beech was in Arkansas City, as told to me by my late husband, Clyde P. Armstrong.

A few notes about Walter Beech.

[Signed] Irene Armstrong.




"pilots misjudged the distance while landing and the plane fell over the edge of the bluff. The major was so mad that he stripped the pilot of his wings."


"Sometime after that the hangar burned and only one plane was saved. John was getting his plane out when the roof fell in. The Dope used on the fabric of the planes is very volatile. When the fire reached the barrel of Dope, it exploded, spreading fire to the whole hill top.

"The hangar was a total loss. Walter Beech approached businessmen in town for $500.00 to replace the hangar, saying he wanted to build his own planes there. They laughed at him. He said, "OK" and went to Wichita. He later founded the Beech Aircraft Corporation."

[I call the above story re loss of hangar THE BIG LIE. MAW]



"The hangar north of town burned one night.

"All seven planes were lost.

"After the fire Walter Beech called on businessmen in town to lend him $500.00 for another hangar. He said he wanted to build his own planes.

"They laughed at him.

"That is when he went to Wichita."


"Albert Beach of rural Arkansas City tells the following:

His father was Ira Beach, a farmer. The home place is west of Hackney (Tresham?) (Gresham?) [NOT SURE WHAT SHE WROTE...BUT SHE ENDED THIS WORD WITH THE QUESTION MARK. MAW]

Irl S. Beach, brother of Ira and Uncle of Albert, was the flyer.

Irl did stunt flying here. When flying over Arkansas City one time in open cockpit he lost his tool kit. He was horrified for fear someone would be killed. The kit was later found on the edge of the roof of Newman's store. Irl died in 1960.


"The following stories were told by Albert Beach concerning Irl Beach.

His plane was due in but he kept circling the city. The ground crew thought it very strange. He was burning his fuel because he was landing with only one wheel and didn't want to start a fire.


He took his honeymoon via air. He had a mail route out of Chicago for a time. He was not a World War I veteran. He was too young. Born in 1905."



Local Pilots Here

I am indebted to Reede Farrell, John Robson, Arthur Walker, and (Joe McEwen) for the following.

pilots & planes from pages 2 & 3 (Walker)




After the finish of WWI the government sold large wooden hangars for $500 each to help stimulate interest in aviation.

Pete Hill and Errett Williams put up a hangar north of the city about 50 yards southeast of what is now the Pizza Hut.

Art [Gabel or Gobel??? NOT SURE...MAW] won the race from California to Honolulu and his plane was so large he brought it to the Arkansas City hangar for storage as most all other hangars in the area were too small. The hangar later was totally destroyed by fire.

The hangar put up south of the city by Lee Lawson was also a government hangar and located about the same location of the present hangar. It too was destroyed by fire.

A small hangar was built south of the Arthur Walker home and used by Jack Light-stone and others in 1925 or 1926.

Another small hangar was constructed on the Baird farm west of Arkansas City on Madison Avenue.




Smyer and Forberger leased Earl Haines' hangar and field south of Arkansas City (east of IXL) when Earl went to World War II. They gave flying instructions to cadets [fellow soldiers] at Strother Field to become pilots...after Earl Haines came home, he wanted his airport back.

Therefore, Smyer and Forberger "set up shop" at Walter Baird's place and com-menced to give flying lessons. The hangar was a building that they bought from someone at IXL...they moved it to Baird's, where they were giving lessons.

When Government gave up Strother Field, Smyer and Forberger began instructions for those interested in learning to fly at Strother. This business was sold to Dale Current, who is still there.



The Walter Baird farm is located three miles west of Arkansas River Bridge on Madison. Walter uses his hangar for farm machinery. He had three airplanes in hangar; and had tie-downs for six airplanes.....WHOOPS! HOLD THE PHONE.




[Note: Failed to write down response from Jerry Case...now dead. Phone book still shows AWalter H. Baird, Route 1, Arkansas City, Kansas...Phone: 442-4567.@ MAW, May 16, 1997.]




"seemed right to him he would take off and reach an altitude of three or four hundred feet and make a circular flight for about three minutes before landing."



"I am indebted to John Robson for the following.

Errett Williams made the first landing in Arkansas City. John knew that he was looking for a landing when he saw the flier buzzing the town. John had an old Dodge with tools in it. He used a gunnysack on top for a sock (signal) and fastened it down with a wrench. He had hunted rabbits out there and knew a good flat landing place. Errett followed the signals and landed, accompanied by Mrs. Williams. John brought them to town and they registered at the Osage Hotel."


"During the 23 Flood, rising water"




Following is contributed by D. Arthur Walker.

I believe the first airplane to fly in Arkansas City was a frail monoplane that made several exhibition flights from the old athletic field south of what is now the Groves Oil Company on East Madison. I do not know the name of the pilot or the make of the aircraft, however it looked like a Berloit [ABOVE THIS WORD WRITTEN IN DIFFERENT INSTRUMENT....Bleriot WAS WRITTEN. MAW] airplane with a rotary engine. The pilot would watch the smoke from various smokestacks to determine the direction and velocity of the wind, and when the directions





The first airplane hangar in Arkansas City was out on a bluff north of town, located about where the Methodist Church and the Valley View Manor are now situated. Errett Williams was the first pilot to land here.






Rob Johnson, a high school boy, met him and brought him to town. Rob had a plane....

Errett, Walter Beech, Pete Hill, Beachy Musselman, Dick Phillips, a Winfield man named DeVore and Rob had their seven planes stored in the north hangar.

There was a flying service south of town, also. Roy Hume, Pete Hill, Jack Lightstone, Cecil Lucas, and Irl (Cactus) Beach operated the service. Roy Hume never soloed. He was a co-pilot, but would never land a plane or take off.

The boys on the north hill held a flying circus. Major Tinker was a close friend of Errett Williams. He told the major about their plans and asked if he would help them out.



Monoplane (south of Groves Oil)

Walter Beech

Pete Hill

Errett Williams

Lee Lawson

Arthur LeSarge

Reede Farrell

Chief Bowhan???

Loyd Pickett

Earl Haines

Jack Lightstone

John Robson

Rae Hudson

Roy Hume

Wayne Richards

Joe McEwen

Beachy Musselman

Irl Beach

Dick Phillips


Cecil Lucas




It took a World War to make America really air conscious. Arkansas City was one of the places where Air Force Pilots congregated.

According to Arthur Walker the first plane to arrive here was a barnstormer, a fragile monoplane with a rotary engine. It landed on the old athletic field on East Madison Avenue. There were no "socks" to indicate the direction of the wind. The pilot on the ground would watch the smoke from neighboring smoke stacks to determine the direction and velocity of the wind. When they were right he would take offCaltitude 300/400 feet...circle 3 minutes at trip.

John RobsonC

First flier to locate in AC - Errett Williams

Buzzed city

John...old Dodge...gunney sack...signal

hunt rabbits...north hill

guided pilot...Errett and Mrs. Williams...to town...registered at Osage.

After the war...government sold large wooden hangarsC$500.00Cto stimulate civilian interest in aviation.

Pete Hill

Errett Williams

hangar north of town...southeast of Pizza Hut.

Art Gobel...who won race from California to Honolulu stored his big plane here.


Seven planes stored north...

Walter Beech

Pete Hill

B. Musselman

Dick Phillips

John Robson

JohnCgovernment surplus...two cents pound...crated...sight unseen.


Flying Circus

Er. Williams close friend of Tinker

8 planes...1 misjudged distance...over the cliff...stripped of his wings.

Hangar burned: saved only one plane.

Walter Beech approached business men here. $500.00. Wanted to build his own planes...Laughed at him. Wichita.


Lee Lawson - land from Cecil Lucas for hangar. South of town.

Cecil Lucas and Roy Hume established a flying service.

Jack Lightstone

"Cactus" Beach (Irl)


They did a lot of barnstorming.

Harold Wooldridge (Andrea's Uncle)

Stunt man

Walked the wings in mid air.


Fostine's mother...Mrs. Wm. Mullins

Roy "kidnapped" her.

Over the city.


Mrs. Wm. Patten...sister of Cecil Lucas.

Cecil leased land south of town for hangar...was with Eddie Rickenbacker's 95th air squadron...went to WichitaCCessna...at the time of his death he was Governor of Aeronautics.


This hangar was also a government hangar. It stood about where the present hangar is located. It also was destroyed by fire.


A small hangar...by Jack Lightstone in 1925-6 on D. Arthur Walker place.


Also one west of town on the Charley Baird Farm.


During the 23 Flood.

Big gasoline tank at Kanotex refinery broke loose outside the valve. Tank floated down the Arkansas River. Landed against 3 big cottonwoods. Mrs. Ethel Childers called Beech Aircraft to come down to locate the tank. Only two small boats in town. John Robson had a canoe. Took Mrs. Childers to north airfield. Pilot intoxicated...Mrs. Childers refused to ride with him. Pilot knew John from early flying days. "Can you fly her down?" "Yes." Made map, so it could be located after water subsided. Gasoline back in tank trucks. Cut empty tank in two...back to Kanotex.



later. When the water receeded the company hauled the gasoline back to Arkansas City in tank trucks. They cut the empty tank in two, brought it back and welded it together again.


The story is told that when Walter Beech died, a man in South Texas, a flyer named Walter Beech, read the notice of the Wichita man's death. The Texas flyer had a little daughter named Olive Ann, the same name as the Wichita man's wife. Little Olive Ann wrote Mrs. Beech and received a lovely answer. They were not relatives.


Following are the names of the early pilots here as recalled by persons we interviewed.

Jack Lightstone, Rae Hudson, Roy Hume, Wayne Richards, Joe McEwen, Beachy Musselman, Irl Beach, Dick Phillips, Cecil Lucas, John Robson, Walter Beech, Pete Hill, Errett Williams, Lee Lawson, LaSarge Brothers, Chief Bowden, Reede Farrell, Loyd Pickett, Earl Haines.


Some of the Old Planes...

English De Haviland

Jennys (J N 40) army training plane

Lincoln Standard


Italian SVA


During the 23 flood rising water broke a big gasoline tank loose at the Kanotex refinery. The break was outside the valve so the tank with the gasoline floated down the river. It landed against three big cottonwood trees. Mrs. Ethel Childers called the Beech Aircraft in Wichita to come take her down to locate the tank. At the time of the flood, there were only two boats in town. John Robson had a canoe. He took Mrs. Childers to the north hill. When the Wichita plane arrived, the pilot was intoxicated and Mrs. Childers refused to ride with him although he assured her he was capable. He knew John from early flying days. He turned to him and said, "Can you fly her down?" John said, "Yes."

They went down, found the tank, and drew a map so it could be located


Mrs. Ethel Childers, secretary, Kanotex refinery.

Kanotex Refinery moved to Arkansas City in 1917.

Refinery plant was located southeast of Arkansas City on a forty acre tract.



The "140 foot hill" was a popular picnic ground prior to the turn of the century and well into the 1900s. It was located about two miles southeast of Arkansas City on the Albert F. (Bert and Mary) Moore and Harry Wallace farms and northwest of the present location of Quaker Haven.

The place is not now opened to the public as the river has worn away the bank and washed away the bridge.

Denton bridge crossed the Arkansas River south of the refinery and from that crossing or the ford not far beyond one could take the road east or west.

At least once the bridge was rebuilt after a flood, but in the big flood of 1923 the bridge went out and was not rebuilt.

The road going west was around the base of the 140-foot-hill and eventually led to what we now know as Quaker Haven Road and from there went on to old highway 77.

As the floods came and the Arkansas River cut a wider channel, the area was made inaccessible.


FLOOD OF 1923...

Early on Sunday, June 10, 1923, warning signals were blown on the city pump house whistle, giving notice that danger was near. By the end of the day, waters of the combined rivers (Arkansas River and Walnut River) had reached unprecedented heights in several parts of the city and many men, who had rushed to help sandbag the dikes, returned to their own homes later to find that they were inundated if they were located in low areas.

Lotus Day, of Day's Monument Company, erected an historical marker at 907 South Summit Street showing the point reached by the waters in the 1923 flood.




Walker...page 2


seemed right to him he would take off and reach an altitude of three or four hundred feet and make a circular flight for about three minutes before landing.


Local Pilots

Walter Beech

Pete Hill

Errett Williams

Lee Lawson

The LaSarge brothers

Reede Farrell

Chief Bowhan

Loyd Pickett

Earl Haines

Jack Lighstone [Note: She always wrote ALighstone@...corrected earlier references.]

Rae Hudson

Roy Hume

Wayne Richards

Joe McEwen


Gladys Peck mentions LeSarge Brothers, Reede Farrell, Beacy Mussselman, Irl Beach, Dick Phillips, John Robson, Cecil Lucas.




Air Craft and Air Ports

Mary Lucille Neuman published a history of Strother Field in the Traveler April 30, 1975.

Fred Tupper, the first Airport manager, who served for twenty-five years and retired in July of 1992 wrote a history of the field which was published in the book Cowley County Heritage. Mr. Tupper was succeeded by Mrs. Joe (Donna) Avery of Arkansas City.

After World War I there was a flurry of excitement over flying by such local enthusiasts as Walter Beech, Pete Hill, and Cecil Lucas.

A self-taught aeronautical engineer, Irl Beach (no relation to Walter Beech) designed a number of planes and had his own airport and hangar in the late 1920s. By the 1930s, many more Arkansas City citizens had joined in the aerial fun, including Roy Hume, Clyde Dorrance, Claude "Red" Derry, Earl Haines, and Reede Farrell.

There were several air strips, located north, south, and west of Arkansas City, but no municipal facility.

Winfield, Kansas, though, in 1940 had authorized a municipal airport south of Highland Cemetery so that students taking ground school classes at Southwestern College could qualify for private pilot licenses.

Jim Smyer, and his brother, Tom Smyer [who became manager of the Ponca City airport in 1940], were two of the foremost promoters of private piloting in the late 1930s and 1940s. Jim Smyer and J. C. Forburger had been instructors at the Lloyd Pickett-Earl Haines airport south of Arkansas City until they opened their own flying service on the Baird air strip on Highway 166 west of Arkansas City. They were there two years before Strother became available, at which time they severed their partnership. Jim Smyer then began his family's long-time association with Strother Field.





History of Strother Field

By Mary Lucille Neumann

Because of the vision 35 years ago of Junior Chamber of Commerce members in Arkansas City and Winfield, Cowley County has the most modern and finest job-producing airport-industrial park in Kansas. Approximately 1,300 persons are on the payrolls of 13 industries located at Strother Field, located midway between the two municipalities.

Many persons believe that the Field was started by the U.S. Army Air Force as a training center during World War II and was given to the cities after hostilities ceased.

Not so. Land already had been purchased and work started to construct a two-city airport before war was declared. When the Army Air Force needed the site, it was leased in 1942 for $1 a year. At the conclusion of the conflict, the land was turned back to the Cities, along with all its improvements.

[Continuation Neumann article]

The actual birth of Strother Field occurred early in 1940, although Arkansas City long had been aviation-minded. After World War I there was a flurry of excitement over flying by such local enthusiasts as Walter Beech, Pete Hill, and Cecil Lucas. A self-taught aeronautical engineer, Irl Beach (no relation to Walter Beech) designed a number of planes and had his own airport and hangar in the late 1920s.

By the 1930s, many more Ark Cityans had joined in the aerial fun, including Roy Hume, Clyde Dorrance, Cluade "Red" Derry, Earl Haines, and Reede Farrell.

There were several air strips located north, south, and west of the city, but no municipal facility.

Winfield, though, in 1940, had authorized a municipal airport south of Highland Cemetery so that students taking ground school classes at Southwestern College could qualify for private pilot's licenses.

This same year, 1940, Civil Aeronautics Authority officials (CAA) advised that, if Arkansas City and Winfield together could establish a good-sized airport, there was a possibility the Army Air Force might locate a training installation. Officials and civic groups from both communities studied the feasibility of the suggestion. There was much enthusiasm and, also, opposition. A referendum vote was held in Arkansas City in August, 1940, to determine approval of a bond issue for establishment of such an airport. The vote carried.

The CAA assisted in determining location, size, runways, hangars, and other facilities necessary, concluding that $210,000 would build a [equipment a]...?? does not make sense....

THINK IT SHOULD BE...would build the field and equip a facility for the required airport.

The CAA agreed to furnish $30,000 in federal aid if each city would provide $90,000. This proposition was approved when submitted to election in both towns.

At that time Harry Oldroyd was mayor, with Harry Long and George Wylie as commissioners.

Several locations were discussed with the final choice a 480-acre site in what is now the southwest corner of Strother Field. Contracts drawn had the signature of Clyde King as city manager and Harry V. Howard as city attorney. This was December 30, 1941.

Runway grading was underway in April, 1942, when the Air Force asked the Cities to use their money to purchase an additional 920 acres, less tracts occupied by Hackney. This brought the airport holdings to 1,356 acres, which the Cities leased to the Air Force for $1 a year for 25 years.

Within the year, the Air Force also selected four auxiliary fields: 480 acres five miles southeast of Strother, 640 acres six miles northwest of Winfield, 654 acres six miles west of Arkansas City, and 640 acres five miles northwest of Geuda Springs.

[Continuation Neumann article]

Work was rushed to complete Strother as a basic training field with the first class of cadets arriving December 14, 1942, for nine weeks of intensive schooling. At the peak of operation, there were approximately 3,400 air force personnel and 400 civilian employees at the field, with married officers and their families residing in both Arkansas City and Winfield and USO and Cadet Clubs maintained in both communities.

It was on November 13, 1942, that "Strother Army Air Field" became the officially designated title for the base. It was named in honor of Donald Root Strother of Winfield, the first Cowley County Army Air Force pilot to lose his life in World War II action (February 13, 1942). He was the youngest of four brothers, all of whom were involved in this country's war service: Dean, eventually a four-star Air Force general; Kenneth, who retired as an infantry captain; and Robert, who served in the Office of War Information.

The Air Force used Strother for about three years, deactivating it in 1945 and turning it over to the Army Engineers, later to the War Assets Administration.

When the Cities' officials were approached to terminate the lease and regain possession of the Field, it didn't automatically become an airport-industrial park. The city fathers delayed a decision until tenants could be found so that rental and job income could justify the expense of maintaining a large airport.

The first commercial venture on the Field was Smyer Flying Service, owned and operated by the late James Smyer and his wife, Iona Smyer Plamer. CHECK ON THIS...PLAMER OR PALMER. They began operations in February, 1946, with a PT-19 surplus Air Force plane, a Cessna 120, and a Piper Cub to provide charter and instruction services and crop dusting. Their offices were in the hangar now occupied by Smith-Moon. Ernie McCoy (of C&M Engine Service) was head of maintenance from 1946-49.

When Central Airlines began daily stops here, Smyer's office was moved to the old terminal building and eventually to the new terminal building when it was erected in 1969. The operation was taken over by Melvin and Donna Current after the death of Norman Smyer (Jim's son) in 1972.

One innovation that made history was started by Jim Smyer shortly after he began the Strother operation. Every afternoon he delivered the Winfield Daily Courier to nearby communities. This was the first air delivery of a newspaper anywhere in the United States. This was continued for nearly 25 years.

Jim Smyer and his brother, the late Tom Smyer, who became manager of the Ponca City airport in 1940, were two of the foremost promoters of private piloting in the late 1930s and 1940s.

Jim Smyer and the late J. C. Forburger had been instructors at the Lloyd Pickett-Earl Haines airport south of town until they opened their own flying service on the Baird air strip on west Highway 166. They were there two years before Strother became available at which time they severed their partnership and Smyer began his family's longtime association with the Field.

Current Aircraft, Inc., with offices in the Terminal Building, had two storage hangars and T hangars in 1975. It employed at that time eleven people and offered charter, instruction, sales and rental of airplanes, fueling, maintenance, a courtesy car, and rental cars. Melvin Current, president, soloed 28 years ago [in 1947] as a 16-year-old but he did not become commercially active for 10 years, establishing Current Aircraft at Strother Field on May 1, 1969.

Fairchild Engine and Airplane Co. was the first industry to come to the rescue of the fledgling industrial park. Harry M. McKay, formerly of Winfield and then head of the Fairchild Personal Planes Division, was impressed with the facilities and signed a 3-year-lease for $51,000, providing jobs for 200 to produce an experimental plane.

[The availability of Strother Field for industrial use was brought to Mr. McKay's attention by his sister, Mrs. Harold Wortman of Winfield, Secretary-Treasurer of the Sonner Burner Company in that city. Her son, Richard Kay Wortman, resides in Arkansas City.]

Unfortunately, by the time Fairchild had completed building and testing its new aircraft, the personal plane market appeared to be glutted and directors decided to discontinue this divisionCand the Strother leaseCon July 1, 1949.

This was a blow. Yet the two city governments realized that this industry had given them an opportunity to have first-hand knowledge of the Field potential. An evaluation revealed that when the Air Force left, the cities not only regained their farm land but also had 23 buildings, a sewage disposal plant, utilities, a railway spur, and various equipment, such as tractors, trucks, mowers, asphalt distributor, fire trucks, etc. There were more than 32 miles of hard surface blacktop runways 150 feet wide, plus taxi strips, large concrete ramp, runway lighting, fencing, paved roads, etc.

The cities were generating revenue to operate the field. In 1947 they had levied a 1/2 mill tax in each city for airport maintenance fund. They also were realizing income from crops on land not used for airport or business purposes. Then oil was discovered under the west auxiliary field. The 1/2 mill levy was discontinued in 1952. Before the oil play ended, approximately a million dollars was received and designated as a revolving fund to use in updating the Field and to build manufacturing facilities which are sold or rented on long-term leases.

As the Field and its operations grew, so did the need become apparent for a quasi-governmental unit to conduct the complex business of the airport-industrial complex.

In September, 1966, the two cities entered into a Mutual Contract for the management and operation of Strother Field Airport-Industrial Park. Among other things, the contract named the governing body "The Strother Field Commission," the membership to be composed of three members of the Governing Body of each city and each City Manager as an ex-officio member. An additional article called for the appointment of an Airport Manager.

As a consequence, Fred A. Tupper, a native of New York, was employed as the first (and only) Airport Manager. He was a retired Army lieutenant-colonel who was then studying for a master's degree in municipal administration at the University of Oklahoma. In the past nine years he has seen the Field expand from five industries to the present 13. All but four of the old frame GI buildings have been torn down or were destroyed by fire or were moved to other locations.

The sage of Strother Field aviation history is Charles M. Loomis, currently president of Western Industries, Inc., with office and warehouse at Strother Field.

Loomis came flying into Strother in October, 1946, in his own Ryan monoplane. He had been a pilot since 1933 and, in the succeeding 40 years, has owned nine planes. He came here from Detroit as Fairchild works manager and decided to remain when Fairchild departed, forming Western Manufacturing, Inc., fabricators of handling equipment, on April 1, 1949. He began his proprietorship in his Crestwood garage, moving to Strother that fall when he rented the old cafe building for $10 a month. His first Strother Field production was aluminum Christmas tree street decorations for downtown Arkansas City.

"At the time I moved onto Strother Field," Loomis remarks, "every building was available, with the exception of the hangar occupied by Smyer. Look at it nowC13 industries and a 10 million dollar annual payroll. It is the best navigationally equipped non-scheduled-airline airport in the state."

For the past five years Strother has operated a VOR (very high frequency omini-range) and a non-directional beacon. It now has pending an application with the FAA for an ILS (instrument landing system) for which an airport is eligible if more than 800 planes a year use its approaches. In the fall of 1974 the main runways and roads were resurfaced in a $275,000 project. Presently the railway spur is being renovated with a new roadbed.

Loomis has continued a staunch supporter of Strother Field through his 29 years' association. He accredits the success of his parent company to his airplane. He was able to come to his Strother office in the morning, board his nearby plane and, within a brief time, be in a distant city to personally laud his wares and services, and be back in his offfice by evening. When he sold Western Manufacturing to Montgomery Elevator Company of Moline, Illinois, in 1972, they were encouraged to establish this as a division primarily because of its location and availability to fly-in.

Western Manufacturing presently has 25 employees and Bud Seaholm is manager. The company has purchased a 20-acre tract in the center of the Field and is contemplating construction of complete new facilities.

The five major companies who located at Strother Field in the "early days" are still the backbone of the Field. Peabody Gordon-Piatt began operations September 1949; Western Manufacturing in November 1949; General Electric in May 1951; Smith-Moon Steel Corp. in December 1951; and Greif Bros in July 1955. Cessna came onto the scene in 1967.

Gordon-Piatt, Inc. was formed by M. K. (Kern) Gordon and W. R. (Bill) Piatt, both of whom had worked for Sullivan Valve and Engineering Co. of Butte, Montana. In 1949 they decided to go into partnership and move to Kansas to establish a burner business closer to oil and natural gas supplies and a centrally located transportation network. They occupied the old parachute packing building (which structure later housed Mossman guitar factory and burned three months ago).

They first manufactured two atmospheric gas burners. The company expanded, incor-porated in 1955, and constructed new facilities in 1958.

A highly reliable packaged forced draft combination gas-oil burner, trade-named "Turbo-Ring," with stainless steel combustion head, was patented and provided the impetus for further expansion into light and heavy oil systems, industrial register type burners, and newer systems which burn pulverized waste wood and other solid fuel combustible products. Divisions were established in Canada, England, Holland, and Australia, plus regional offices in Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, Minneapolis, Atlanta, and Stamford.

The company merged in 1971 with Peabody-Galion Corp., headquartered in New York and Galion, Ohio, and the present name of Peabody Gordon-Piatt, Inc. was adopted. Kern Gordon is president and employment here is around 200.

General Electric located at Strother Field in 1951 and started with the production of the J47 military engines. The facility, at that time, consisted of merely the current hangar facility. During the period 1951 to 1955, approximately 3,000 J47 engines were shipped from the Strother facility.

At the end of the Korean War, General Electric phased out its J47 engine business and concentrated on the overhaul of aircraft engine starters, power units, and other aircraft engine accessories. It remained in the field of endeavor until 1962.

In 1962, General Electric ventured back into the engine overhaul and repair business and was heavily involved with both the J73 and J85 military engines and components. Approximately 6,000 military engines have been processed through the GE facility from 1962 until the present time.

GE's focus again changed in the mid-60s with the advent of the commercial business jet. GE began to service engines for the Learjet, Commodore Jet, Falcon Jet, and Hansa Jet. This business has continued to grow throughout the years and in 1974 approximately 450 business jets flew in to Strother Field for servicing. In total, over 6,000 commercial engines have been processed through the GE-Strother facility.

As the business grew, so did the General Electric facility. Today, it occupies 125,000 square feet of floor space.

In 1972, General Electric secured a contract to overhaul and repair the J33 military engine. This work is continuing at the present time. In 1973 as the J85 military engine business phased out, GE began work on the repair of components for the CF6 engine used in the DC 10 wide bodied commercial airliner used by many domestic and overseas airlines.

In addition, GE is now involved in the repair of components for electric power generating gas turbines as well as the new manufacturer of components for several other General Electric aircraft jet engines. G.E. currently employs approximately 400 people with an annual payroll in excess of four million dollars.

Adjacent to GE is Executive Jet Aviation, a satellite station of Executive Jet Aviation of Columbus, Ohio. A facility was established here in September 1973 to do airframe maintenance. There are six employees with George Salmon as manager.

Another "pioneer" at Strother Field is Smith-Moon Corp., which began operations in December, 1951, occupying a larger hangar at the north end of the ramp. In 1965 it became a wholly owned subsidiary of Struthers Thermo-Flood Corp., of Warren, Pa, which was organized to acquire the parent Struther Wells Corp., designers, manufacturers and distributors of Thermo-Flood equipment for secondary oil recovery by steam and hot water injection methods and steam and hot water extraction of sulphur and other methods.

The manufacturing operations are performed by Smith-Moon, which fabricates certain process equipment, such as fired heaters, waste heat boilers, and other products for the process and petrochemical industries. The marketing and distribution of Struther Thermo-Flood products also are handled principally from the Strother Field office, with service and sales personnel located at Bakersfield, California.

The 1974 oil embargo and energy crisis, which brought demands for increased domestic oil production, had an immediate effect at the local plant as it spurred an influx of new orders for Thermo-Flood equipment. By the end of 1974 fiscal year, the company had an aggregate of $9,209,000 in unfilled orders, up four million dollars from the previous year.

Underway at this time is a building program which is adding 2,000 square feet to the office, 3,000 square feet to the manufacturing area for a machine shop addition, plus addi-tional concrete aprons for installation purposes. There are 114 employees with Charles F. Woollen as general manager and Ted Jones as works manager.

The 20th anniversary of their operation at Strother Field is being observed by Greif Bros. Corp., a subsidiary of the century-old Greif Bros. Corp. of Delaware, Ohio, makers of steel containers of every description, mainly nine to sixty-five gallon in size. These are shipped from the local plant to customers in Nebraska, Missouri, Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, and Kansas. Harry Golway is manager with 54 employees on the payroll.

The Cessna Strother Field plant first opened in September 1967 with Ralph Golden as Plant Manager. The first Model 150 was delivered from Strother Field Delivery Center on October 16, 1967.

Delivery of the 10,000th Cessna Model 150 was made from Strother Field Delivery Center to the world's largest flying club, Longhorn Aero Club, Inc., based in Austin, Texas, on December 22, 1967. By March 1968, one thousand Model 150s had been produced at Cessna. Strother Open House of the new production facility was held Sunday, April 21, 1968. In August, 1968, C. G. "Chief" Wood became Plant Manager here.

A shortage of propellers, resulting from a strike at Cessna's McCauley Division in Dayton, Ohio, forced Cessna to close its Strother assembly plant in mid-December, 1970.

Cessna reopened its Strother Field plant March 19, 1973, with Virgil Liby as Plant Manager, announcing in October plans to construct a 56,000 square foot addition to assemble, flight test, paint, and deliver the Model 172-Skyhawk, a four-place single engine model.

Approval of a Cessna request for issuance of $925,000 in Industrial Revenue Bonds as announced at a Strother Field Commission meeting in May precipitated the construction. The result was the addition of the attractive physical plant structure and employment has more than doubled.

The new addition increased the total space under roof at the Strother Field complex by 67 per cent to a total of 139,999 square feet. Production of the Model 172-Skyhawk joined that of the two-place Model 152 line, the most widely used airplanes in the world today. Cessna has produced more than 40,000 of these aircraft. The 172-Skyhawk line was moved from the Pawnee plant, Wichita, to begin operation Jan. 2, 1975.

S. L. Mossman, Inc., started custom guitar manufacture in November 1969 and moved to larger quarters at the Field in February 1970. The firm had attained an international reputation with steadily increasing sales when its main wood-frame building was destroyed by fire in February 1974. A new metal building under construction will nearly double its space, employment, and production.

Morton Buildings, Inc. of Morton, Ill., selected Strother Field for the opening of their fourth manufacturing outlet in 1974. They have sales offices in 60 cities. Three large buildings have been erected, along with a material yard, on their 30-acre site here. Their 30 employees sell, fabricate, and erect pole-metal skin buildings in all colors and act as a distribution center for a four-state area from this plant. Ivan Perry is sales manager and Elmer Moore is plant manager.

In addition to those who have come and stayed, there have been many who have come and gone, including Pomona Tile, which was here 172 years and closed just six months prior to fire which leveled the hangar where they had turned out millions of ceramic tiles. Other transient occupants have included a hatchery, a sash and door company, a fertilizer spreader manufacturer, a fiber glass door company, a wood working shop, an oil field equipment distributor, several cafes, and flying services.

The growth at the field has been quietly unobtrusive. The future looks bright. Scores of Cessna 150s and 172s dot the south ramp awaiting testing and delivery. Aircraft of every description, from speedy jets to lumbering transports, arrive daily from all parts of the United States and foreign countries for repair and modification at GE's modern facilities. Many patrons of the airways drop down to park their private and company planes right outside the restaurant entrance where they relish a tasty meal prepared by Jodi Aguilar and Lee Bender and their crew while the airplanes can be serviced from Current's gasoline trucks. Movie and TV personalities, recording artists, and others fly or drive to Strother to personally pick up Mossman guitars. Greif's, Smith-Moon's, and Peabody Gordon-Piatt's trucks and rail cars constantly move their merchandise, and receive materials.

Many organizations also use Field facilities. Numerous groups, such as Boy Scouts, Antique Auto Club, Corvette Club, labor unions, and church organizations, meet regularly in the conference room at the Terminal Building and in the large nearby Cafeteria room.

A busy, busy placeCthat's Strother Field 1975. But, as the old adage quotes, "there's always room for more." Visitors are welcome to tour the Field and, of course, to encourage business acquaintances to become familiar with the possibilities of locating here.





World War II saw Arkansas City booming with the activation of Strother Field, an Air Base. The air base, now occupied by a municipal airport and energetic industries, compels favorable attention from firms seeking new industrial sites.

Strother Army Air Field, located midway between Arkansas City and Winfield, Kansas, was activated September 19, 1942, and served as a basic training school for Cadets during World War II.

Colonel Joseph F. Carroll, West Point graduate, served as the first commander. The initial group of enlisted men arrived October 14, 1942, and by December 15 of that year the first class, 43rd D, had arrived.

On January 24, 1943, Governor Andrew C. Schoeppal dedicated the new base to the memory of Captain Donald Root Strother, a native of Cowley County, who was the first Army Air Corps hero of World War II. Captain Strother was killed in Java, February 13, 1942, while leading a squadron of "Flying Fortresses." At the time of the dedication his small son, Colbert Strother, received by order of General Douglas McArthur the Distinguished Service Cross and the Award of the Orgar [?Order?] of the Purple Heart.

Following the close of the war, the field was inactivated and is now an industrial center under guidance and joint ownership of the two cities.




House on Eleventh Once Home of Judge

One of the old houses associated with the beginnings of families in Winfield, is that at the southeast corner, 403, of Eleventh and Fuller. The older part of it was built before 1879. It was the home of Judge Colbert Coldwell, a grandfather of Mrs. J. O. Strother.

Judge and Mrs. Coldwell came to Winfield in the early 1870s. With them were their daughters, Nora, Jennie, and Mattie; and their son, Nathaniel. Nathaniel, like his father, was a lawyer.

Nora Coldwell became Mrs. W. C. Root in May, 1879. To them were born a son, Colbert, and a daughter, Anne.

Anne Root married Dr. J. O. Strother, a son of a pioneer of the north part of the county, Robert Strother, onetime register of deeds.

Children of Dr. and Mrs. Strother are: Kenneth, captain in the U.S. army; Robert, with N. W. Ayer Newspaper Advertising Company, Detroit; Dean, lieutenant, U.S.A.; Marjorie, Mrs. Carlos Fetty, Haven; and Donald, with United Air lines.






Little Stories

Karl Conner states that he was present when the first airplane landed in Winfield. The location was between 9th and 14th streets east of the Country Club road on the Hiatt place. There were no buildings there then, Conner states.

The plane was built by Alvin K. Longren of Rago, Kansas, north of Harper. It was shipped in and reassembled, as it only had a2 2 gallon gas tank.

The plane was patterned after those made by the Glen Martin Co. They charged 50 cents just to go in to watch the plane fly.




Orville and Wilbur Wright had a shop for the repair of bicycles in Dayton, Ohio, and had had experience with motor cycles. They began in 1900 by experimenting with gliders in order to learn the best shape and size for the wings. In order that they might not be disturbed, they went to a lonely place on the seacoast of North Carolina. Finally, December 17, 1903, a machine rose carrying a man, and stayed in the air for fifty-nine seconds. The problem was solved, but they kept their success secret. After this there were many improvements, but they were improvements only. A man had flown in the air.

The Wright brothers kept on trying, and in 1905 made a flight of twenty-four miles, and returned to the starting-point. Longer and longer flights were made, and in 1908 Wilbur Wright made, at Le Mans, France, the longest flights ever made up to that time. In one he covered fifty-six miles, and in another he remained in the air two hours and twenty minutes.


Airplanes with one pair of wings, called monoplanes.


The Wright machines were called biplanes because they had two pairs of wings.

The First Flights for Long Distances.

At first the French took the lead. Santos-Dumont abandoned balloons and built several airplanes, and in 1909 a daring Frenchman named Blériot flew across the English Channel from Calais to Dover, a distance of twenty-one miles. Then the enthusiasm of the English was awakened and Henry Farman, an Englishman, distinguished himself for his daring flights. Glenn H. Curtiss, an American, was another of the pioneer aviators who astonished multi-tudes by their exhibitions of daring and skill in Europe and in America. There were many others.

Mr. Curtiss also built a hydro-airplane, or hydroplane, as it is sometimes called, though other men had been working on the same idea. This is a powerful airplane which has light boats firmly attached. It is able to rise from water and to alight without danger. It is, in fact, a sort of flying boat.

Little was known of the science of flight. The designers of planes had to learn by experiment the best way to build them to stand the great strains of flight. Engines were not always reliable. The aviators had to acquire skill by themselves and learn the tricks of the treacherous air currents. It required many accidents to teach them that the higher they went the less was the danger; for in falling there was more time in which to regain control of the machine. The most serious cause of possible mishap was the sudden stoppage of the motor, which might happen through the breakage of any one of its many delicate parts. This would cause the airplane to slacken speed; then, suddenly, it would tilt backward and fall, just as you have seen a kite throw up its tail and swoop downward. Many of the early fliers lost their lives because of the faulty construction of their machines as well as their own lack of skill and knowledge.

How the Aviators Keep from Falling.

Today the experienced aviator knows what to do in such a case. By means of the lever in his hands he throws down the elevator, as the rudder that raises or lowers his machine is called, and the front of the airplane dips, almost straight downward. To the spectators it appears that it is dropping sheer to destruction, but just before it reaches the ground, the aviator gives his lever another turn; rights his machine dexterously and alights safely. This method of landing is known as the volplane, and is now practiced even for pleasure. A safer way to volplane is to make the machine circle as it falls, which enables the aviator to choose his landing-place.

For years no aviator would venture up if more than a breeze was blowing. Then in 1909 an Englishman, Hubert Latham, forced his machine up into a fierce gale of wind. For a few minutes it fluttered dangerously against the gusts, then turned and sped down wind at the rate of ninety miles an hour. Back again came the daring aviator, making scarcely any progress against the fierce air currrents. After ten minutes he alighted safely, having proved that the airplane is a good weather craft. In those days, however, forty or fifty miles an hour was considered high speed.

An Aviator Flies Above the High Alps.

The following year (1910) Chavez, a Peruvian, astonished the world by flying over the Alps, and though he was killed by a bad landing on the other side, he had demonstrated that the mightiest strongholds of the air could be conquered.

The Influence of the World War on Flight.

The performances of some of the early fliers seem almost trifling now. Some of us can remember when the news of a flight of less than a hundred and fifty miles was sent around the world. Now a trip ten times as long attracts little notice. For this rapid progress the World War is chiefly responsible. The leading nations recognized the value of airplanes in war, and built great fleets of many different types. The most skillful designers were given unlimited money to make experiments. Schools to train fliers were established, and thousands of young men flocked to them. The qualities of a good flier are much the same as those required of an expert driver of a motor car. He must be quick-witted, his muscles must respond instantly to the orders of the mind, so that he seems to guide his plane almost unconsciously.

Presence of mind is the most necessary quality for one who wishes to fly. If only the aviator does not become frightened, an accident rarely happens.

An airplane will fly upside down as well as in an upright position. Years ago a Frenchman was flying on a windy day when his machine was overturned by a sudden gust. He continued his flight for some three hundred yards, upside down. Fortunately he was at a good height and strapped in. Finally he righted his machine and landed safely.

A few months later another Frenchman, Adolphe Pegoud, overturned his machine deliberately and flew in circles, looping the loop. Now that is quite a common trick. One aviator who has performed it repeatedly says: "In looping the loop, when you start the turn, you seem to sit still and the whole world revolves around you. The horizon disappears under your feet and next you see it coming back over your head. The whole thing is done so quickly that you don't realize for a moment what has happened. There is no unpleasant sensation except a rushing of the blood to the eyes."

The Great Importance of Airplanes in War.

[During World War I]...

Every army had attached to it what is known as the flying corps, hundreds of skilled aviators. Some of these daring scouts were the same men that gave exhibitions of skill in the early days, but special schools were maintained by the military authorities in which to train aviators.

War planes were divided into three classes: combat planes, observation planes, and bombing planes. The combat planes were small and very swift, generally carrying only one person but sometimes two. The machine gun was often arranged to shoot between the blades of the propeller as it revolved. The aviator attacked other planes, or attempted to shoot down the observation balloons of the enemy. Of course he made observations as well. The observa-tion plane usually carried an observer as well as a pilot. It was slower and steadier and carried cameras with which photographs of the enemy's position might be made. Such planes also carried machine guns for defense. The largest bombing planes can carry tons of bombs to be dropped upon forts, camps, railway stations, or ammunition depots. Often several of these went out together.

In the World War, workshops to repair airplanes usually accompanied the armies.

Flight and Flying Since the World War.

Since the end of the war progress in the navigation of the air has continued. The aero-engine has been improved. Lighter, more powerful and more reliable engines have been built both for airships and for airplanes. The most thrilling accomplishment was the crossing of the Atlantic four times within the short space of two months during 1919, once by a seaplane, once by an airplane, and a round trip by a British airship.




The United States Air Force was officially created in September 18, 1947, but had existed as an air arm of the US Army since August 1, 1907, when the Aeronautical Division of the US Army Signal Corps was established.

In 1982 on the 75th anniversary of the establishment of the Aeronautical Division and the 35th anniversary of the US Air Force, chief of Staff General Charles Gabriel recalled that:

In August 1907 the Army Signal Corps assigned an officer, two enlisted men, and a civilian clerk to its new Aeronautical Division. In the summers of 1908 and 1909, the Wright Flyer thrilled thousands of spectators who watched at Fort Myer as Wilbur and Orville Wright flight-tested improved versions of their 1905 model. It was not until August 1909 that the Army finally accepted "Aeroplane Number 1." Three months later, the nation temporarily lost its total air strength when the plane crashed.

As the only officer on flying duty in early 1910, Lieutenant Benjamin Foulois taught himself how to fly in the only plane the Army had. Foulois received instruction from the Wrights by mail, becoming the first correspondence-school pilot in history. The Wrights later sent him an instructor to help with the hardest part...landing. Over the next months and years, the young air pioneers trained hard and developed tactics to turn the airplane into an effective military weapon. Foulois, who as a Major General, was Chief of the Air Corps for four years in the mid-thirties, did not remain the only pilot for long.

Though the Aeronautical Division started with three uniformed personnel in 1907, there was an average of 25 people in the division between 1908 and 1912; in 1913 that number was up to 114. Nevertheless, despite its invention in the United States, heavier-than-air aviation was growing much faster in Europe than in America. The fledgling birdmen in the US Army petitioned hard for an expanded service and were rewarded by an Act of Congress (March 2, 1913) that authorized the Signal Corps to add pilots and to pay them at a higher scale for their time aloft. On July 18, 1914, the Aeronautical Division officially became the Aviation Section of the Signal Corps.

The First Aero Squadron was established at the air field near Texas City, Texas, on Galveston Bay under Captain Charles Chandler. The early Wright Pusher was soon joined in the First's inventory by the Curtiss D, the Burgess H, and the Martin TT seaplane.

At the onset of World War I the Aviation Section had fewer than 20 planes. On March 8, 1916, Pancho Villa came north from Mexico on a raid against the town of Columbus, New Mexico, in which 17 Americans were killed. The War Department promptly ordered General John J. "Blackjack" Pershing, commanding the Presidio of San Franciso, to proceed south and form a military expedition to capture the legendary bandito. Among the forces placed at Pershing's disposal was the First Aero Squadron, back in Texas at Fort Sam Houston and commanded by Major Benny Foulois. America's first air squadron was going into its first conflict, albeit in an observatory role. The eight Curtiss JN-2s and JN-3s of the First arrived in Columbus three days after the Villa raid and were ordered south into Mexico. On the flight to Casas Grandes, about a hundred miles south of the border, two of the "Jennys" crashed and the others, already the worse for wear, ran afoul of sandstorms that seriously jeopardized their airworthiness. Moreover, the Villa gang was holed up in the 12,000-foot mountains of the high Sonora desert plateau country, an altitude at which the JN-3s could not function. When the Pershing expedition ended five months later, the results of America's first "air war" were disappointing. Pancho Villa was still at large, and the only two JN-3s to come out of Mexico were written off as no longer safe. Nevertheless, the First Aero Squadron had logged 346 hours on 540 courier and reconnaissance missions.

Less than a year later the United States was pulled into the Great War in EuropeCWorld War I. While air combat over the Continental trenches and steppes had developed into something of an art, the Aviation Section was scarcely better equipped than it had been a year earlier for the foray into Mexico. Of more than 1100 men in the section, only 35 were pilots. The inventory of fewer than 300 planes did not include a single combat aircraft. The United States faced the reality of going to war with an enemy far superior in aviation technology, and changes would have to be made quickly. From the creation of the Aeronautical Division in 1907 through the time of the Mexican incursion, the US Army had spent a little more than half a million dollars on aviation. On July 24, 1917, three and a half months after the declaration of war, President Woodrow Wilson signed the Aviation Act of 1917, which budgeted over six hundred million dollars for military aviation.

This huge increase in spending bolstered not only the Aviation Section, but the American aircraft industry as well. While manufacturers geared up, the Army sent Colonel Raynal Bolling to Europe for a first-hand look at what would be required of the air units joining the American forces. What he saw was American pilots flying French and British planes of a type superior to what American industry could design and produce in the limited time available.

Thus it was decided that the United States would not build pursuit aircraft, but would concentrate on trainers and reconnaissance planes while American fighter pilots flew SPADS and Nieuports. The principal aircraft produced in the US during this period were the Curtiss JN-4, a descendant of the planes Foulois had flown into the Sonora Desert, and the British-designed de Havilland DH-4, built in America by license.

On May 24, 1918, six weeks after American pilots shot down their first enemy aircraft in combat, the Army decided to take its air arm out from under the wing of the Signal Corps and make it a new unit equal in importance in the military organization. The US Army Air Service was born.

In 1918 American pilots rode the crest of the battle tide now running in favor of the Allies. In all, American aviators shot down only 781 enemy aircraft and 73 balloons, but among them were some standouts. Twenty-two of the 71 American aces had more than ten victories, and Captain Eddie Rickenbacker of the famous 94th ("Hat in the Ring") Aero Squadron scored 26. By the end of the war, November 11, 1918, the personnel strength of America's air arm had increased from 311 two years before to 195,023Can increase of over 6000%!

The halcyon days of 1918 were not to last. America was determined that the Great War was indeed to be the "war to end all wars" and disarmed accordingly. The isolationists pre-vailed. The League of Nations, an idea carefully conceived and nurtured by President Wilson, was embraced by the world but rejected by Congress at home.

The domestic aircraft industry went into a tail-spin, as vast quantities of surplus Army "Jennys" were dumped on the civilian market. The Air Service remained intact, but its strength in 1919 had fallen to only 13% of its wartime peak, though it was still considerably ahead of prewar levels.

Note: In December 1931 Major General Benjamin Foulois, the Army's first pilot and a long-time advocate of air power, became Chief of the Air Corps.


JANE'S ALL THE WORLD AIRCRAFT, 1919, reported the following under U. S. A. AEROPLANES.



The largest American aeronautical construction firm; their activity ranges from the smallest to the largest aeroplanes and seaplanes, and from aero engines to airship cars. Contractors to the U.S. Army and Navy.

Glenn H. Curtiss in 1907 and 1908 was a member of the Aerial Experiment Association, formed by Dr. and Mrs. Alexander Graham Bell. This Association built four machines, each along the lines of Baldwin, Lieut. T. E. Selfridge, G. H. Curtiss and J. A. D. McCurdy. The last built was the June Bug, designed by Curtiss and was the most successful. In the spring of 1908, the Association was disbanded and The Aeronautical Society gave Curtiss an order for an aeroplane with carte blanche as to design. He produced a 4-cyl. machine, with a Curtiss engine, and flew it.

A duplicate was hurriedly built, an 8-cyl. engine installed, and taken to Europe for the first Gordon Bennett, which he won. Returning, the same type was continued with minor improve-ments. Later the front elevator was brought closer in, finally discarded, and the fan tail adopted. In April, 1913, a military tractor was built and flown.

Many school biplanes of the "J.N." type were supplied to the belligerent powers, and did remarkably well for their purpose.


[Commonly called a "Jenny" or "Jennie"]


General Dimensions.

Wing span, upper plane .................... 43 ft., 7-3/8 in.

Wing span, lower plane .................... 33 ft., 11-1/4 in.

Depth of wing chord ....................... 59-1/2 in.

Gap between wings ......................... 61-1/4 in.

Stagger ................................... 16 in.

Length of machine overall ................. 27 ft., 4 in.

Angle of incidence ........................ 2 degrees.

Dihedral angle ............................ 1 degree.

Sweepback ................................. 0 degrees.

Wing curve ................................ Eiffel No. 6.

Horizontal stabilizerCangle of incidence .. 0 degrees.



Wings, upper .............................. 167.94 sq. ft.

Wings, lower .............................. 149.42 sq. ft.

Ailerons, upper ........................... 35.2 sq. ft.

Horizontal stabilizer ..................... 28.7 sq. ft.

Vertical stabilizer ....................... 3.8 sq. ft.

Elevators (each 11 sq. ft.) ............... 22 sq. ft.

Rudder .................................... 12 sq. ft.

Total supporting surface .................. 352.56 sq. ft.

Loading (weight carried per sq. ft.

of supporting surface) .................. 6.04 lbs.

Loading (per r.h.p.) ...................... 23.65 lbs.



Net weight, machine empty ................. 1,580 lbs.

Gross weight, machine and load ............ 2,130 lbs.

Useful load ............................... 550 lbs.

Fuel ........................ 130 lbs.

Oil ......................... 38 lbs.

Pilot ....................... 165 lbs.

Passenger and other load .... 217 lbs.

Total: 550 lbs.



Speed, max. (horizontal flight) ........... 75 m.p.h.

Speed, min. (horizontal flight) ........... 45 m.p.h.

Climbing speed ............................ 3,000 ft. in 10 mins.



Model O.X. 8-cylinder, Vee,

four-stroke cycle ....................... Water cooled.

Horse power (rated) at 1400 r.p.m. ........ 90

Weight per rated h.p. ..................... 4.33 lbs.

Bore and stroke ........................... 4 in. x 5 in.

Fuel consumption per hour ................. 9 galls.

Fuel tank capacity ........................ 21 galls.

Oil capacity provided (crankcase) ......... 4 galls.

Fuel consumption per b.h.p. ............... 0.60 lbs. per hour.

Oil consumption per b.h.p. ................ 0.030 lbs. per hour.




Pitch.CAccording to requirements of performance.

Diameter.CAccording to requirements of performance.

Direction of rotation, viewed from pilot's seat.CClockwise.



One gasoline tank located in fuselage.

Tail skid independent of tail post.

Landing gear wheel, size 26 in. x 4 in.

Standard Equipment.CTachometer, oil gauge, gasoline gauge,

complete set of tools.

Other equipment on special order.


Maximum Range.

At economic speed, about 250 miles.


Shipping Data.

Fuselage Box.CDimensions: 24 ft. 6 in. X 5 ft. 3 in. X

3 ft. 1 in.; gross weight, 2,380 lbs.

Panel Box.CDimensions: 20 ft. 9 in. X 5 ft. 8 in. X 3 ft.;

gross weight, 1,450 lbs.




Dewey W. Brown

Back in 1919, just three years after William E. Boeing built his stick-and-wire seaplane at Seattle, a 20-year-old Dexter youth completed his homemade monoplane and tested it in an alfalfa field. This was one of the first amateur models built in this region and one of the first of this type ever built. It was made by Dewey W. Brown. He did it alone in his spare time, and not even his best friend knew of the project until Brown asked him to help him tow it out for a trial.

Brown got the idea from an article in Popular Mechanics. The plane was powered by an old four-cylinder engine taken from a Saxon, and the propeller was hand-carved from wood. The total cost was less than $125, but the biggest single cost was for the purchase of fabric and dope from a Chicago firm.

The engine was not strong enough for the plane, but before Brown could get around to replacing it with a larger one, he was caught up in commercial airplane manufacturing. Swallow hired him immediately and put him to work on the Laird Swallow, which was the most famous airplane of the day and the first commercial model built.



PAGE 53:

[The Hill-Howard Agency formed in 1916...AUTOS]

From 1916 to 1918 Dwight Moody was Sergeant Aviation Mechanic and according to Grant Gribble, Dwight was the first man in the service to fly a plane.

PAGE 59:

Dwight Moody, in service in World War I, was stationed at Kelly Field.

Roy Hume was stationed at the same place [Kelly Field].

Dwight and Roy were close friends.

PAGE 60:

Upon returning home after the war, Ira Beach, Roy Hume, and Pete Hill organized a flying service. While Dwight Moody was not actually involved in the organization, he was always interested in flying and airplanes, and he hung around a great deal. Pete Hill, a flying ace in the war, was killed in a civilian crash, and the flying service was dissolved.

[Hill a flying ace! Unbelievable. MAW]

The building at 122 North Summit, where Mr. Moody had the first garage in Arkansas City, was one of three built by local men who had connections with an eastern syndicate interested in investing money in the little town that was expected to become the "Chicago of the West."

The building at 122 North Summit had an entirely new front a few years ago [book printed 1975], but in the back there is a cement floor and ramp to the basement, a relic of Moody's occupancy.



The first of these Syndicate buildings was on Fifth Avenue and was razed to make room for a parking lot.

The second, now occupied by Osage Cleaners, was the Moody garage.

The third is at 427 South Summit, now occupied by Shanks Grocery, and known as the Syndicate Building.

All three buildings had one distinguishing featureCa black brick trim over the windows.





























The principal aircraft produced in the US during World War I were the Curtiss JN-4, a descendant of the planes Foulois had flown into the Sonora Desert, and the British-designed de Havilland DH-4, built in America by license.

Curtiss Aeroplane and Motors Corporation was the largest American aeronautical construction firm at the onset of World War I. Many school biplanes of the "J.N." type were supplied to the belligerent powers, and did remarkably well as training aircraft. The most popular, J.N.4D.2 Tractor (the "Jenny" or "Jennie").




Landing Fields For Cross Country Fliers Being Established

NEW YORK, Feb. 6.CPlans for the establishment of a chain of airplane landing fields have been worked out by officers of the Army Air Service and the Manufacturer's Aircraft Association, it was announced here today. Army flyers have covered more than 300,000 miles in an aerial survey of the country and made exhaustive reports on the facilities offered to cross-country flyers.

Representatives of the large Southern cities already have been invited to establish landing fields under army direction. Many others will receive like invitations during the next few months. These must be laid out according to specifications given by the army and in return the government gives steel hangars to the municipalities. Operation of the "air harbor" is assumed by the municipality. Since the armistice the number of army fields has been reduced from 50 to 16 and the naval air stations from 17 to 9.

"The landing field," says the aircraft association, "is to the airplane what the harbor is to the oceanliner and the railroad terminal is to the train. It is not merely a flat piece of land on which the flyer can bring his craft to earth. Such a piece of ground bears the same relation to a real landing field as an unimproved water inlet bears to a harbor like New York or Liverpool.

"A landing field should have, first of all, dimensions which fit it to handle all forms of aircraft. It should be drained so as to permit its use in the wettest weather. It should have shelter and supplies for flyers and their crafts and should be accessible to the trade center it is meant to serve. This feature is of supreme importance because commercial aerial navigation will develop only in proportion to its commercial value.

"The field should be identified with markings visible from great heights and with radio apparatus so the flyers may be aided in finding their way in spite of the fog or failure to identify the country over which they are passing.

"Fields at frequent intervals mean that cross country flyers can come to the earth for rest, replenishment of supplies and adjustments to their machines without inconvenience or unnecessary delay. In the event of a mishap in the air, such as a stalled motor, the nearby landing field permits the pilot to glide to it without damage to the machine or to himself."


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