Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum Receives Spirit of Flight Award, Induction Into Illinois Aviation Hall of Fame

The Illinois Aviation Hall of Fame held the 2016 Banquet and Induction Ceremonies Thursday at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale’s Transportation Education Center.  Among the inductees this year is the Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum at St. Louis Downtown Airport in Cahokia, a recipient of the Spirit of Flight Award for the museum’s contributions to the Metro East IL and St. Louis metropolitan areas.  The museum has made many positive contributions to local and regional communities through the conservation of the area’s aviation history and the numerous educational and community events held there each year.  The museum also received the AIAA St. Louis Civic Service Award in 2013.

Criteria for the Spirit of Flight Award:

•Awarded annually to an organization that has made a substantial contribution to aviation in Illinois

•The organization’s activities must be Illinois based and continuous over a long period of time

•The organization’s member activities must be above and beyond that of normal paid employment and exhibit a high degree of excellence in their accomplishment
Significance of the Spirit of Flight Award:
Election to the Illinois Aviation Hall Of Fame is the highest honor that can be attained by people whose principal aviation activity and experience is Illinois based. It is awarded to people of good character for their excellence over a period of time. All of those selected have participated in community service, which reflects the character that earns IAHOF honors.

 

Museum Teams With EAA Chapter 64 for Young Eagle Flights

The Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum hosted a large group of Scouts and general public youth for Young Eagle Flights and presentations by local experts in various sectors of aviation.  The annual Youth in Aviation Day involves over 100 Scouts working on their Aviation Merit Badge and serves as a major Young Eagle Rally at St. Louis Downtown Airport.  During the day, the Scouts and airport residents were treated to a visit from a Bell 47 and a takeoff by USMC Harrier jets.  Thanks to the Scout members, museum staff, EAA Chapter 64 volunteer pilots and Ideal Aviation for making this another successful event.  (Photos by Museum President, Mark Nankivil)

Museum Hosts Cahokia, IL Head Start Classes as Part of Airport Activity

The Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum at St. Louis Downtown Airport hosted 80 Cahokia, IL Head Start students and their teachers Tuesday, offering 3-5 year-old children the chance to explore aviation first-hand.  The children were invited to climb into a Link trainer cab, F-4 Phantom II cockpit and the museum’s Lockheed Jetstar executive jet that was once owned by Howard Hughes.  The children also sat in a PC-12 medical transport “KidsFlight 3″ and a Cessna 172 from west ramp FBO Ideal Aviation.  The airport Fire Department brought their impressive Panther fire truck, always a hit with young and old alike.  The airport will host another 80 children Thursday.

The museum welcomes group visits, though prior arrangements are necessary.  Special thanks to Firefighter Terry Bowman for arranging and coordinating the visits this week.  Photos by museum President, Mark Nankivil.

Museum Demoiselle Restoration Begins with Help From EAA Chapter 64 and Ultralight Club

The restoration of the Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum’s Demoiselle reproduction has begun anew with help from members of EAA Chapter 64 and the Gateway Area Ultralight Association (GAUA).  The bamboo and steel tube aircraft, designed by Alberto Santos-Dumont as his model 20 in 1908, featured a 30hp opposed V-engine and was flown in exhibitions in Europe and the U.S. in 1909-1910.  About 50 were produced and more were constructed by individuals using plans.  It was also sold in kit form by St. Louis aircraft maker Tom Benoist in 1910.

The museum’s aircraft, a flying replica made in 1970 by Mr. John Mirka from plans he found in a 1910 edition of Popular Mechanics, flew once just a few feet off the ground.  The aircraft was donated to the museum when it was called the St. Louis Aviation Museum and based at Creve Coeur Airport in St. Louis County.  Since then it has been on display at various times and has been in storage for years awaiting restoration.

A group of mechanically-inclined volunteers has formed to restore the Demoiselle replica for non-flying display at the museum.  The group is led by Travis Roberts, EAA 64 member, ultralight pilot and GAUA President.  Roberts and museum and EAA 64 member Dave Sneddon began the assessment process of the Demoiselle’s current condition, and made some preliminary plans for fabricating new attachment hardware for the empennage, the gimbaled horizontal and vertical tail assembly.  Work will continue through the summer, and updates will appear periodically as major milestones are completed.

The museum encourages anyone with an interest in participating in the restoration project to contact the museum through the website.  Donations for materials needed to complete the project are also appreciated.  

Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum Chosen for Illinois Aviation Hall of Fame

The Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum, located at historic Curtiss-Wright Hangar 2 at St. Louis Downtown Airport in Cahokia, IL, has been selected to receive the Illinois Aviation Hall of Fame 2016 Spirit of Flight Award.  The museum is being recognized for its service to the community through preservation of Metro East IL aviation history, education programs supporting local schools and Scouting groups, active Young Eagles program with local EAA Chapter 64, and other aviation activities promoted and executed through the volunteer staff.  The museum is honored to receive the highest honor afforded by the Illinois aviation community, and will continue to serve the greater St. Louis and Metro East Illinois communities with ever greater enthusiasm and purpose.

The Awards Banquet and Induction Ceremonies will be held May 5 at the Southern Illinois University – Carbondale Transportation Education Center at Southern Illinois Airport.

Museum Hosts Historic Bell 47 Helicopter and St. Louis Area Photo Flight

The Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum hosted Michael Sequeira’s historic Bell 47G on display February 20.  The aircraft was originally a Bell 47B, serial number 5, later converted to the 47G standard.  Several rides around the St. Louis riverfront were raffled and a photo session past the Gateway Arch was also flown.  (Photos: Carmelo Turdo and Fred Harl, The Aero Experience).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Custom Model of the St. Louis Robin Donated to Museum

A custom-built 1/72 scale model of the St. Louis Robin was recently donated to the Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum by Curator Emeritus Jack Abercrombie.  The model, 99% or more “scratch built” from sheet polystyrene and rods, represents the aircraft that was made at the St. Louis Curtiss-Robertson Aircraft Company in 1928 and set an endurance record (using early aerial refueling techniques) in July of 1929 of over 17 days in the air.  The model is so detailed as to include a patch on the top of the fuselage representing the one made to the aircraft during the record flight.  “My reason for the work–to correct some misconceptions in both period and present-day publications about the remarkable airplane and feat,” Abercrombie said.  “The real 1929 event represented St. Louis aviation at its finest.”
The model will be on display in a special exhibit in the museum at a future date.

St. Louis Aviation Community Mourns the Passing of Bob Kraemer

The Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum and the St. Louis aviation community mourn the passing of Bob Kraemer, a long-time museum member and benefactor, US Navy pilot, CFI, Stearman and Pitts pilot and friend to many.   More on Bob can be found in his memorial here.

Museum Teams with EAA Chapter 64 for Fall Young Eagle Flights

The Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum again teamed with EAA Chapter 64 to give Young Eagle flights to about 20 aviation enthusiasts October 31.  Chapter members donated their time, fuel and aircraft – Cessna 172, 182, an Ercoupe and American Champion Decathlon – to share their love of aviation and encourage these young students to explore aviation for themselves.  Those who participation in the EAA Young Eagle program receive a free flight around the local area, EAA Student Membership, online flight training course, Discovery Flight with a certified flight instructor.  Flight training scholarships are also available.

Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum Celebrates the Life of Carl “Chub” Wheeler

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.”

The Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum salutes Carl “Chub” Wheeler for a life well lived with these photos from our encounters over the last few years:

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