The Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum, located in historic Curtiss-Wright Hangar 2 at St. Louis Downtown Airport, hosted a birthday celebration Sunday for local aviation legend Carl “Chub” Wheeler who recently turned 102 years old. Family and friends gathered to commemorate his life and an aviation career that spanned nearly 70 years. Wheeler, a Founder and Life Member of the museum, took his first airplane ride in 1930 at Curtiss-Steinberg Airport (now called St. Louis Downtown Airport, where the museum is located) and soloed in a Curtiss Robin in 1935. During his aviation career, “Chub” Wheeler instructed new flight students at Parks Air College during World War II, managed Curtiss-Steinberg Airport in 1946-1947, flew corporate DC-3s for several St. Louis businesses, and flew for the Defense Mapping Agency in the 1950s. He continued to fly until the age of 92, and owned a number of aircraft.
Museum staff welcomed Wheeler, his son Jim and Daughter Mary Kay Sunday morning, and they quickly became the center of attention. They were delighted to find that a flight around the St. Louis area was being prepared for them. Mark and Elaine Harter flew in their 1937 Waco YKS-7 cabin biplane especially for the occasion, and in no time all three were ready for takeoff. Harter, who earned his tail-wheel endorsement from none other than “Chub” Wheeler himself in the 1980s, flew his special passengers along the riverfront and received permission for a few fly-bys near the museum. Following the flight, all guests were treated to barbeque lunch, birthday cake, and a presentation of a special birthday gift to Wheeler.
For additional coverage of the event and a biography of “Chub” Wheeler, click here.