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.
The Midwest Aviation community mourns the passing of aviation icon Carl “Chub” Wheeler September 17 at the age of 103. Chub began his flying career at Curtiss-Steinberg Airport, now St. Louis Downtown Airport, and received his pilot’s license in 1935. He became an instructor before and during World War II, airport manager and corporate pilot. He was a Life Member of the Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum that resides in historic 1929 Curtiss-Wright Hangar 2 at the airport, and 2014 inductee into the IL Aviation Hall of Fame. Our condolences go out to his family and our aviation family as well. Below, “Chub” Wheeler with daughter, Mary Kay, September 13, 2015.
The fiftieth anniversary of the beginning of manned Gemini spacecraft missions was marked by the Missouri Aviation Historical Society during their monthly meeting on Thursday evening. The event was a cooperative effort among aerospace organizations to honor the contributions of McDonnell Aircraft, including a select group of veteran Gemini program engineers, to successful manned space flight involving America’s dual-crew spacecraft.
Missouri Aviation Historical Society President, Dan O’Hara, coordinated the event and provided an informational presentation about the Gemini space program. A display of Gemini spacecraft memorabilia was provided by the Space Museum in Bonne Terre, MO and the Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum in Cahokia, IL:
|Project Gemini mission patches and thrusters|
|Models of Gemini spacecraft include Rogallo Wing concept|
|Moderator Earl Mullins|
Following the introductory program, a panel discussion, featuring veteran McDonnell Aircraft engineers who designed portions of the Gemini spacecraft, was moderated by Earl Mullins, Curator and Founder of the Space Museum in Bonne Terre, MO. Members of the guest panel were: Ray Tucker, electrical ground support engineer who worked on cable systems within the launch complex; Dean Purdy, electrical engineer who worked in the St. Louis Gemini test complex; Norman Beckel, electronics engineer who developed and tested communication systems on the Gemini spacecraft; Earl Robb, structural and mechanical design engineer who designed portions of the Gemini spacecraft, including the equipment module; and Jerry Roberts, engineer who worked on guidance and control systems for the Gemini Spacecraft.
Panel members (L-R): Ray Tucker, Dean Purdy, Norman Beckel,
Earl Robb, and Jerry Roberts
|Earl Robb makes a point about the design of the equipment module|
|Jerry Roberts discusses the guidance and control system|
Several themes emerged during the discussion, including the importance of the space program in technological as well as geo-political terms. The Gemini program developed techniques and practices needed to maneuver and navigate in space – essential capabilities for the upcoming Apollo lunar missions. The Gemini astronauts, most of whom went on to fly Apollo lunar missions, learned how to rendezvous and dock with other spacecraft, work effectively outside of the spacecraft, and practice precision recoveries. The panelists shared their behind-the-scenes anecdotes, remembering those like astronaut Gus Grissom and McDonnell Aircraft flight nurse Rose Church who devoted their lives to making the program succeed. Questions from the audience were fielded prior to wrapping up the program with the presentation of a special fiftieth anniversary cake sponsored by McArthur’s Bakery. The panelists were also presented with a copy of the book, NASA Gemini Owner’s Workshop Manual as a special gift.
Missouri Aviation Historical Society President Dan O’Hara presents
the NASA Gemini Owner’s Workshop Manual to the panelists
Special thanks to the McDonnell Aircraft Gemini panelists, Missouri Aviation Historical Society, Creve Coeur Airport, the Space Museum in Bonne Terre, MO, the Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum, the St. Louis Space Frontier, the Boeing Company and McArthur’s Bakery for contributing to the program. Video from the program will appear on the Missouri Aviation Historical Society website in the near future.
Since 1970, the Illinois Aviation Hall of Fame has honored aviators whose principal aviation activity and experience has been in Illinois. I’ll borrow their description for induction:
“Induction into the Illinois Aviation Hall of Fame is the highest honor that can be attained by individual(s) whose principal aviation activity and experience is Illinois based. The inductees are recognized for their good character and excellence over a period of time. All of those selected are aviation enthusiasts who have also participated in community service, which reflects the character that earns this distinction.”
The 2015 inductees, we’re happy to report, include two local Metro-East IL area gentlemen: Edward Shafer and U.S. Air Force Colonel (Ret.) Robert L. McDaniel. The other two inductees, Beverlee Greenhill and Edward B. Heath, were from the Chicago area.
Edward Shafer was recognized for his years in aviation, starting in 1964 when he moved back to IL and obtained private, commercial, instrument and flight instructor certificates. Shafer flew charter in the St. Louis Metro East area and, along with his wife Lois, developed the restricted use runway on their dairy farm into what today is known as St. Louis Metro-East Airport (Shafer Field) near St. Jacob, IL. He has trained over 500 pilots, and as a Designated Pilot Examiner, has given over 350 check rides. Ed Shafer has been advocate for general aviation and in many ways has shared general aviation with the community.
As a child, Bob McDaniel initially grew up close to Southern Illinois Airport and later, St. Louis Downtown Airport (at the time known informally as Parks Airport). McDaniel took his first flying lesson, using a Cessna “Discover Flying” coupon, at the age of 14 and soloed on his 16th birthday. With his commercial pilot’s license and an aviation degree from Parks College, he joined the U.S. Air Force and continued his flying career. After 25 years of service, Bob McDaniel served as the Airport Director of the Texarkana Regional Airport before returning home to carry on his aviation career as the Director of St. Louis Downtown Airport in Cahokia, IL in 2000. Under his direction, the airport grew to be the third busiest airport in Illinois, receiving numerous awards and accolades over the years. Bob McDaniel has been an active supporter of general aviation: giving rides to anyone interested in flying, serving as the Young Eagles chairman for EAA Chapter 64 based at St. Louis Downtown Airport, and personally flying well over 2,000 youths on their first flights. Bob also shares his experience by serving on various advisory boards, serving as an adjunct instructor for St. Louis University Parks College of Engineering, Aviation and Technology, authoring a number of aviation books and speaking at various aviation, professional and civic groups championing aviation.
Congratulations to both Ed Shafer and Bob McDaniel for earning this high honor!
Anyone traveling through Lambert-St. Louis International Airport recently may have seen an exhibit by the Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum next to Baggage Carousel 1. The Museum has been given the use of two Community Group Windows there for three months beginning July 15. Tom Ahillen, Doug Bent, and Jack Abercrombie transported some of our exhibits to Lambert on the start date and began setting up the display, although several other people were involved in the planning of the layout and the selection of materials.
The display is a great opportunity for exposing the museum to potential visitors, so we wanted to make our display as eye-catching as possible. So we started with some of the TWA and Ozark stewardess outfits. Then we added samples of items from various areas of the museum’s holdings that would keep viewers interested. The total length of the display area is sixty feet, and the case extends about five feet deep behind the windows. Our items are arranged in generally chronological order from left to right.
We have received good feedback from the people on the airport Public Relations staff. Several visitors have come to the museum because they saw the exhibit, so it appears to be accomplishing our goal, too. This has been a learning experience, since we had not previously attempted a display of this size off-site for this kind of an audience. But the location and the impression given by the display appear to go together well.
Thanks especially to Doug Bent for helping setup and donating a mannequin, Joe Gutknecht for making the signs and helping with the layout, Jack Abercrombie for lending us the 1923 aviation map for display, our Curator Mike Burke and to all the others who aided getting this display together.
The Greater St. Louis Air and Space Museum hosted the 20th Annual Gateway Eagles Youth Aviation Day on Saturday, September 13th at the Museum’s location at St. Louis-Downtown Airport (CPS) in Cahokia, Illinois. The weather was excellent and with the fine organizational efforts of the Gateway Eagles, 116 children from 8 to 17 years of age flew, many for the first time, through the EAA Young Eagles flight program.
The Young Eagles program was developed by the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) in 1992 with the intent of providing a flight experience to kids who might not otherwise be exposed to aviation and the joys of flying. Over 1.8 million kids have taken their free introductory flight through local EAA Chapters and groups like the Gateway Eagles. More information on the program is available at: EAA Young Eagles Program.
Gateway Eagles members provided their own aircraft, and along with the assistance of Southern Illinois University aircraft and pilots from both the Carbondale and Edwardsville campuses, the flying was completed by mid afternoon. One of the great benefits of flying out of St. Louis-Downtown Airport is that the flight route takes the kids along the St. Louis riverfront, and for many it’s a different and exciting view of the Arch, Busch Stadium and the St. Louis skyline.
The Gateway Eagles reach out to various youth groups to bring a variety of kids together for their Young Eagles flights. One group of students came all the way from St. Clair, MO to take their Young Eagle flights. The Gateway Eagles also set up an impressive set of activities for participants to do while waiting for their flight. The Airport’s Fire Department set up their Emergency Response vehicle for everyone to check out, and the crew demonstrated the reach of the vehicle’s water nozzles. Food was also available for attendees, and there were raffle prizes as well. Those not flying toured the Greater St. Louis Air and Space Museum and participated in related activities.
The Gateway Eagles would like to say thank you to the following for their help and support of the event:
The Corvette Club of St.Louis
Here are some scenes from the great day of flying:
Middle School students visited the Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum Thursday on a scheduled field trip as part of their participation in the Aviation Technology Academy sponsored by Rankin Technical College. The week-long camp program offers a series of activities that illustrate career opportunities in the aviation and aerospace industries. Students touring the museum, located in historic Curtiss-Wright Hangar 2 at St. Louis Downtown Airport, learned about the development of aircraft design over the last century, including pilot training technology from 1940s Link Trainers to a restored F-4 Phantom II jet fighter cockpit. They examined the structure of a Pietenpol aircraft under restoration, and learned about the mechanics of aircraft powerplants through the use of cutaway engine exhibits. The highlight of the visit, though, was the opportunity for each student to receive a Young Eagle Flight arranged by EAA Chapter 64, also based at the airport. In addition to experiencing the sheer enjoyment of flight, the students gained a practical knowledge of aircraft that no doubt will remain with them in the years to come as they make their career choices.
Special thanks to EAA Chapter 64 President Paul Voorhees, Young Eagles Coordinator Bob McDaniel, Young Eagles Ground Operations Coordinator Nick Turk, pilots Jeff Stephenson and Eve Cascella and museum staff for making this Midwest aero experience possible!
|The Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum|
|Students tour a Lockheed Jetstar once owned by Howard Hughes|
|Students inside the Lockheed Jetstar|
|Students head out to their Young Eagle Flights|
|Pilot Bob McDaniel gets ready to taxi out for a flight|
|Aircraft are readied for their Young Eagle Flights|
|Pilot Eve Cascella leads students to the aircraft|
|Pilot Eve Cascella briefs the students before their flight|
|Pilot Jeff Stephenson briefs students before their flight|
|Pilot Jeff Stephenson demonstrates the pre-flight inspection|
|Pilot Jeff Stephenson points out the rudder on the tail|
|Students are shown the airport’s fire apparatus|
|Students pose with the F-4 Phantom II jet fighter cockpit|
|Pietenpol under restoration shows aircraft structure and engine|
|R3350 cutaway under restoration shows working parts|
|1940s Link Trainers show how pilots learned instrument flight|
The Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum has begun its “Countdown to Midwest Airport Fun Days” with the arrival of several warbirds that will be on static display during the June 7-8 event. The St. Louis Downtown Airport community recently welcomed a Douglas DC-3 cargo aircraft and the rare Lockheed PV-2 Harpoon, “Attu Warrior,” to the Ideal Aviation ramp for pre-event festivities starting early next week. More activities are planned for the coming week, so check the event web page for more updates.