The Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum celebrated the life of aviation icon and museum Life Member Carl “Chub” Wheeler who passed away September 17 at the age of 103. Family and friends of Mr. Wheeler gathered at historic 1929 Curtiss-Wright Hangar 2 at St. Louis Downtown Airport and spent much of Sunday afternoon visiting and sharing their favorite “Chub” stories. The museum’s location is especially appropriate, since much of Wheeler’s early aviation activity was centered around the Curtiss-Wright hangars at what was then called Curtiss-Steinberg Airport.
|Family and friends of Carl “Chub” Wheeler
gather near a DC-3 at the museum
Much of Wheeler’s aviation career is included in his biography submitted by the museum for his nomination and acceptance to the Illinois Aviation Hall of Fame in 2014:
“Born in 1911, Chub has seen a century of aviation history unfold during his lifetime. As a young man, Chub was a frequent visitor at Curtiss Steinberg Airport, now known as St. Louis Downtown Airport. He was hired as a line boy, and then learned to fly in an OX-5 powered Curtis Robin, obtaining his pilot’s license in 1935. He purchased the Curtis Robin for $450, and then earned his flight instructor’s certificate.
“The flight instructor’s certificate was just a beginning for Chub. He and partner Bill Hart formed a flying school at Curtiss Steinberg airport and used the Curtis Robin to offer flying lessons. When the Civilian Pilot Training Program was created to train pilots in response to the impending war in Europe, Parks Air College became a training center. Chub became a flight instructor for Parks Air College first as a civilian, and then as a member of the Army Reserves flying PT-13s, PT-17s, PT-19s and PT-23s. He served at all four Parks Air College locations during the war, finally becoming responsible for the operation of their flight school at Cape Girardeau, MO.
“After the war, Chub returned to East St. Louis to become the airport manager at Curtiss-Steinberg airport during 1946 and 1947. He became a corporate pilot flying DC-3s and Beech D-18s for Monsanto Company, later moving on to fly for Peabody Coal and the St. Louis Post Dispatch. When the Post-Dispatch transitioned to new equipment in the late 1950s, Chub retired from corporate flying and went to work for the Defense Mapping Agency, Aeronautical Chart and Information Service and finished his flying career with them.
“In retirement, Chub became a founding board member and tireless supporter of the Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum in Cahokia, Illinois. He has been a frequent speaker to museum and aviation groups, using his personal history and knowledge of aviation in our region to bring the past alive again.”
Flying the 1929 Ford Trimotor at St. Louis Downtown Airport, Sept. 2011
(Mark Nankivil photos)
100th Birthday, October 2011
Visit to Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum with Daughter Mary Kay, September 2015