Mr. Jack Abercrombie, Curator for the Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum, has produced a scholarly work entitled, “Washington Park: The First St. Louis Airport.” The 18-page article took hundreds of hours of painstaking research to establish the location for the “National Aviation Meet for Novices,” the first event to attract amateur flyers. Access to the preferred location that would later be known as Kinloch Field in St. Louis County was still pending, and the President of the St. Louis Aero Club, Albert Bond Lambert, searched for a suitable location on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River. Mr. Abercrombie describes the events that culminated in choice of the Washington Park area outside of East St. Louis, IL for the site:
The year 1910 was the most exciting period in American aeronautical history. It began in January with an international air meet at Dominguez Field near Los Angeles. From there, the spectacles spread throughout the country in a “frenzy” of shows and meets of one kind or another, both small and large. During almost every week, new flight records were established. It has been estimated that a hundred major events were held around the country during the year.
The aeronautical fever captured St. Louis as well. The Aero Club of St. Louis, whose president was Albert Bond Lambert (for whom Lambert-St. Louis International Airport is named), sponsored several events during the last half of the year in efforts to establish St. Louis as the country’s “Air Capital.” Most of the St. Louis events (an International Aero-nautic Tournament, an International Balloon Race, and a National Aero Show) have been well described. However, the first event of the year has been relatively undocumented, its location undefined, the fact that it even occurred, nearly forgotten—the National Aviation Meet for Novices. This article is intended to shed some light about the location of the event, the aeroplanes, and the pilots (or aspiring pilots), as well as the aftermath.
The entire article will be published on the museum’s website http://www.airandspacemuseum.org/education.html in the near future.
The Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum has placed its BD-5 aircraft on loan to the St. Louis Aerospace Institute, and it is now on display in the lobby of the Center for Workforce Innovation. The St. Louis Aerospace Institute is a collaborative effort between St. Louis Community College, industry partners and the Department of Labor. Initially planned as a training program for prospective Boeing Company assembly workers, the program has gained additional partners and has blossomed into an aerospace production training center featuring these current hands-on courses: Mechanical Blueprint Reading, Basic Aerospace SMAR Training, Intermediate Aerospace SMAR Training, Aerospace Assembly: Electrical, Mechanical and Composites. A Certificate of Specialization in Skilled Trades Industrial Occupations Technology is available upon completion of required curriculum. Current industry partners include The Boeing Company, Essex Industries, GKN Aerospace, St. Louis Business Aviation Association, Kemco Aerospace Manufacturing, LMI Aerospace, Jet Aviation, Sabreliner Corporation, Pattonville High School, St. Louis Agency on Training and Employment, St. Louis County Workforce Investment Board, St. Louis Public School District, and Ritenour High School. The faculty and staff at the St. Louis Aerospace Institute hosted a large contingent of EAA Chapter 64 members recently (many of which also are members of the Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum), providing a tour of the facility and a special discussion of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) that included a power-up demonstration of several scale radio-controlled aircraft built and flown by Mr. Jack Beetz, professor of carbon fiber fabrication and assembly. For more information about the St. Louis Aerospace Institute, please visit http://aerospace.stlcc.edu/. Special thanks to Mr. Paul Voorhees, assembly instructor, Ms Becky Epps, Program Manager, Mr. Jack Beetz and the entire staff.
The aerospace community mourns the recent loss after a brief illness of our dear friend, Mrs. Rose Church, the “Flight Nurse to the Astronauts” during the budding Mercury and Gemini spacecraft programs at McDonnell Aircraft Corporation in St. Louis, MO. Starting out as an industrial nurse at McDonnell Aircraft in the early 1950s, she essentially created the job of flight nurse for the space program when McDonnell Aircraft became the prime contractor for Mercury and later Gemini spacecraft. Her work brought such esteem from the astronauts, many of whom went on to the Apollo program, and the NASA hierarchy that she was invited to the last Space Shuttle launch as a VIP guest nearly 50 years later. She continued to educate the public about the space program after leaving McDonnell and during her second career in real estate, and was a life member of, and generous contributor to, the Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum at St. Louis Downtown Airport in Cahokia. She will be remembered not only as an aerospace pioneer, but even more so as a lady who showed kindness and service to all she encountered. Rose Church dreamed of going to the moon – her plan was a one-way colonization mission for older folks – but those who knew her are confident that she is now far beyond the moon, touring the universe with the One who created it.
For more information about Rose Church, please visit the previous posting on The Aero Experience http://aeroexperience.blogspot.com/2011/07/rose-church-flight-nurse-to-mercury-and.html and the Missouri Historical Society’s biography page at http://www.historyhappenshere.org/archives/7300.