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:
•The organization’s activities must be Illinois based and continuous over a long period of time
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!
Aviation Legend Carl “Chub” Wheeler Honored on 103rd Birthday at Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum
The Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum, located in historic Curtiss-Wright Hangar 2 at St. Louis Downtown Airport, recently hosted a 103rd birthday celebration Sunday for local aviation legend Carl “Chub” Wheeler. Family and friends gathered to commemorate his life and an aviation career that spanned nearly 70 years. Mark and Elaine Harter flew in their 1937 Waco YKS-7 cabin biplane especially for the occasion. Mark Harter earned his tail-wheel endorsement from none other than “Chub” Wheeler himself in the 1980s. 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.
- Chub was a primary flight instructor throughout the war and served at all four of Parks Air College flight schools during the war, at the end of the war being responsible for operating the flight school at Cape Girardeau, MO. Aircraft types he flew for training were the PT-13, PT-17, PT-19 and PT-23. Chub was flight leader for the “Thunderbolts” which was a demonstration team showing off the capabilities of the flight trainers being used at the time.
- Aircraft Chub has owned include the Curtiss Robin, Fairchild 22, Travel Air J-5 Speedwing, BT-13s, PT-23, J-3 Cubs, Piper Pacer, Aeronca Champ, Aeronca 7AC, and his final aircraft, a 1946 Ranger powered Fairchild 24.
For additional coverage of the event and a biography of “Chub” Wheeler, click here.