midwest aviation

Teachers Aviation Career Day Introduces Educators to Aviation STEM Resources

The Midwest Aviation Community again showed support for STEM (Science, Technology Engineering and Mathematics) education and aviation career development by participating in Teachers Aviation Career Day at Mid America Airport in Mascoutah, IL Tuesday.  The event provided area K-12 educators with a first-hand look at available area aviation service providers and resources that add value to the STEM curricula many school districts are developing.  According to Keith Mueller, representing Southwestern Illinois College and a key organizer, there were 160 schools from 13 counties in the St. Louis and Metro East Illinois area scheduled to be represented by the attendees, and it is hoped that this event will spark enhanced communication among educators and the aviation community.

The Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum provided an exhibit to illustrate its contribution to educating the public about the area’s contributions to aviation past and present.  The exhibits were arranged on both floors of the Mid America Airport terminal, and several aircraft arrived and parked on the apron.  The exhibitors represented all aspects of aviation, including commercial airlines, military careers, flying schools and college aviation programs, advocacy groups, educational non-profit organizations and even camera drone operators.  Having the event at an airport, with the aircraft present, emphasized the point that aviation services and careers are important to everyday life, and that the skills needed to participate in aviation as a vocation are within the grasp of those students who participate in STEM programs.

A sample of the exhibitors and aircraft include:

Overhead view of a portion of the lower level exhibit hall


Challenger Learning Center-St. Louis




Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 64


Federal Aviation Administration


Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum


Greater St. Louis Flight Instructors Association


Ninety-Nines and Women With Wings


Southern Illinois University


Southwestern Illinois College


Sparta Aero Services


Trans States Airlines


Transportation Security Administration


Wings of Hope


Yield Enhancement Service
General layout of the apron:

General Aviation aircraft used by the State of Illinois, Southern Illinois University Flight Program, and Mr. Bob McDaniel’s personal aircraft that has flown many Young Eagles with Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 64:


Vans Aircraft RV-7A built and flown by Mr. Larry Frey:

Cessna 182 used by the Civil Air Patrol:


Cirrus SR20 used by the Parks College of St. Louis University Flight Program:

Piper Cherokee Representing Sparta Aero Services:

Pitts S-2A Special used for teaching aerobatic flight by Bi-Plane Training:

Bell Helicopter Textron 206 Long Ranger used for medical air transport by Survival Flight:

Special thanks to the organizers, exhibitors, attending educators, and Mid America Airport for making this Midwest Aviation outreach event a great success.

Aviation Community Mourns Passing of Carl “Chub” Wheeler

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 FameOur condolences go out to his family and our aviation family as well.   Below, “Chub” Wheeler with daughter, Mary Kay, September 13, 2015. 




Illinois Aviation Hall of Fame Inducts Two Metro-East Illinois Aviators

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 (L) and Bob McDaniel

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!

Countdown to Midwest Airport Fun Days: Warbirds Arrive at Museum

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.



There’s Something In the Air: Midwest Airport Fun Days Offers a Variety of Aerial Adventures

This new Midwest Aviation event offers free, family-friendly fun to the public with our thriving aviation community!  Produced by the Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum, Ideal Aviation, EAA Chapter 64 and The Aero Experience, Midwest Airport Fun Days will provide an opportunity for our visitors to experience aviation first-hand and have a lot of fun at the same time.

There will be something for everyone – tour the new exhibits at the Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum; find something interesting in the Expo Hangar (courtesy of Ideal Aviation); check out the aircraft on static display; look to the sky as local pilots fly their aircraft; meet special guest Pitts Special airshow pilot Patrick McAlee; and take a flight in the MO CAF B-25 Mitchell bomber “Show Me”, MO CAF Grumman TBM Avenger torpedo bomber, Kevin Kegin’s 1941 Waco or Greg Vallero’s AT-6 Texan.  Sunday’s activity will include Young Eagle Flights sponsored by EAA Chapter 64.  There will be great food and music to keep everyone having a great time!
Ride in a North American B-25J Mitchell bomber
Ride in a Grumman TBM-3E Avenger torpedo bomber
Check out the Aeronca 65TAC/L-3E Defender
Meet airshow pilot Patrick McAlee
Fly in a 1941 Waco UPF-7
http://www.warbirdridesusa.com/#!packages/c1druFly in a North American AT-6F Texan

Midwest Airport Fun Days Will Take Off from St. Louis Downtown Airport June 7-8

Taking Off June 7 & 8, 2014 At St. Louis Downtown Airport

St. Louis Downtown Airport, Ideal Aviation, the Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum, EAA Chapter 64 and The Aero Experience present the Midwest’s newest aviation event offering free, family-friendly fun hosted by a thriving airport community!  At Midwest Airport Fun Days, our guests are invited to visit the airport and take part in activities provided through the generous contributions of participants and sponsors from throughout the Midwest.  Planned activities include:

Tour the Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum
















Examine aircraft on display from St. Louis Downtown Airport and other airports from around the Midwest
















Experience a flight in a World War II B-25 Mitchell bomber

















Fly in a 1941 Waco Biplane

















Meet Aerobatic airshow star Patrick McAlee



















Youth Fly FREE on Sunday

Entertainment from Fanfare and the Ramblers

And MUCH more!
For more information about participating in the event or sponsoring an activity, please contact Carmelo Turdo at FunDays@airandspacemuseum.org.
To assist in the production of the event by contributing to the general expenses, please make a tax-deductible donation to the Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum.
Check back often for more details!

Young Eagles Take Flight At Museum

A group of Young Eagles took flight with the help of EAA Chapter 64 pilots Bob McDaniel and Trent Duff.  The flights took place from the ramp near the Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum, located in historic Curtiss-Wright Hangar 2 at St. Louis Downtown Airport (CPS), on Sunday.  EAA Chapter 64 and the museum regularly fly small groups of Young Eagles and fly very large groups during the airport’s Youth Gateway to Aviation Day each Fall.  Thanks to Bob, Trent and Museum President Mark Nankivil for making this a special day for our newest Young Eagles.


New Book Traces “The Lindbergh Line” Coast-to-Coast Air Travel Route

The Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum would like to promote a new book that traces the route of “The Lindbergh Line,” the primary cross-country flight path used by Transcontinental Air Transport, later TWA, a staple of Midwest Aviation for many decades. We will let the author, Mr. Robert Kirk, describe the book in his own words, and we encourage our audience to get a copy or two at  authorhouse.com and Amazon.com.


Last July my wife and I flew our small airplane across the U.S. to retrace the old Lindbergh Line. This series of 12 airports/stations, approximately half of which were built by the Transcontinental Airline Company, or TAT, was named the Lindbergh Line. It was named after Charles Lindbergh who was hired by TAT to be the head of their technical department and select the locations and oversee the building of the airports. This story is about the first coast-to-coast airline passenger service in the U.S. Its goal was to cross the country in 48 hours. In 1929 the trains took four days and four nights to take passengers across the country.

I researched the history of TAT and its airports and along with it, utilized information gained at the visited locations, libraries and museums to write the book about TAT. The book is titled Flying the Lindbergh Line: Then and Now. It includes over 225 photos that show what the airports were like in 1929-30 and what they are like today.

About the Book:

Relive the vision of TAT’s “Lindbergh Line” that began the first scheduled coast-to-coast airline passenger service in 1929. Fly with the author as he retraces in words and photos this historic route across America. Flying in the early 20th Century was dangerous business. Aircraft were made of sticks and cloth and their engines failed at an alarming rate. Those who flew experienced a high incidence of accidents. Almost every pilot had stories of seized engines, landing or takeoff mishaps, becoming lost, bad fuel, dangerous weather and lost friends.

However, some saw this stumbling attempt to master the skies as an opportunity to bring the human race forward. They had a vision of stylish travel across the ground and into the heavens with comfort, speed and profit. Such was the vision of Transcontinental Air Transport’s Lindbergh Line that began the first scheduled coast-to-coast airline passenger service in 1929. It teamed with aviation visionaries Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart to build a new industry. That industry’s successful struggle evolved into our modern airline passenger service, one that carries us across the continent and across the world.


EAA’s B-17 “Aluminum Overcast” Makes Visit to St. Louis Downtown Airport and Museum

The Experimental Aircraft Association’s Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress ”Aluminum Overcast” made its St. Louis area stop today at St. Louis Downtown Airport as part of a summer tour prior to returning for EAA AirVenture Oshkosh later in July.  The World War II era heavy bomber parked in front of the Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum, located in historic 1929 Curtiss-Wright Hangar 2.  The visit, sponsored by EAA Chapter 64, will continue until July 4 when it performs in the Fair St. Louis Airshow and then flies to Spirit of St. Louis Airport where it will remain until Sunday. The B-17 as it arrived around 12:30pm and as the crew prepared to make two flights along the Mississippi riverfront with local media representatives and several B-17 crew veterans  aboard.

Museum Board Member Carmelo Turdo flew on the first B-17 flight from St. Louis Downtown Airport, which took off around 1:45pm.  Securely harnessed in the canvass seat across from the right rear exit, Turdo experienced a fairly sanitized version of what flying in a B-17 was like about 70 years ago.  “Flying in the tail section of a large tail-wheeled aircraft is a unique experience, in that you can feel the affects of the rudder inputs during the takeoff run and feel the tail wheel settle on the runway on landing,” he said after the flight.  “After takeoff, we had a few minutes to walk around the various crew stations and let our minds wander and imagine ourselves in these aircraft during combat conditions.  I am amazed at how men half my age managed to go to battle in these aircraft – they have my highest respect and admiration.”    

The Arrival:


The Flight: 


Museum Holds Summer Fly-In and Open House