St. Louis Aviation

Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum Exhibits Provide Insight to the Region’s Aviation History

The Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum has been providing a first-hand view of the region’s aviation history for over 30 years.  The museum, located in historic Curtiss-Wright Hangar 2 at St. Louis Downtown Airport, tells the story of aviation development in St. Louis and Metro East Illinois from the 1920s to the present using period artifacts and full-size aircraft.  The gallery features displays from McDonnell Aircraft Corporation, TWA, Ozark and other locally-owned aerospace and aviation companies.  In the hangar, there are two working Link Trainers, a restored F-4 Phantom II jet cockpit, a rare Meyers OTW biplane and other aircraft exhibits.  The museum welcomes visitors Friday through Sunday, 10am-4pm.

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 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).























Museum Hosts Young Eagle Flights for Scout Troop

The Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum hosted Young Eagle Flights at St. Louis Downtown Airport today.  Members of a local Boy Scout troop received their Young Eagle flights in one of two Cessna 172s or an Aviat Husky provided by members of EAA Chapter 64.  The “East Side Chapter” provides regular opportunities for local youth to experience a flight around the St. Louis riverfront in general aviation aircraft, and local Scout troops frequently credit the flight and museum activities toward the achievement of the Aviation Merit Badge.  Benefits of the EAA Young Eagles program include, without cost: first Young Eagles flight, EAA Student Membership, Sporty’s Pilot Shop online flight training program, first introductory flight lesson and availability of flight training scholarships.  For more information about the Young Eagles program in the St. Louis area, contact EAA Chapter 64 at  Here are some views of today’s flights:

Young Eagles Fly During Warm Weather Spell at St. Louis Downtown Airport

The Midwest Aviation community took advantage of unseasonably warm weather February 7 to provide a second opportunity this year to give the next generation the gift of flight.  EAA Chapter 64 and The Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum teamed up again to give Young Eagle and Eagle Flights to area residents.  The chapter’s Young Eagle Coordinator, Bob McDaniel, arranged for another warm weekend and four crews to fly about 15 passengers around the St. Louis riverfront from Ideal Aviation’s West Ramp at St. Louis Downtown Airport Saturday.  Here are some scenes from the great day of flying:


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.

The following biography was prepared by Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum President Mark Nankivil for “Chub” Wheeler’s successful nomination to the Illinois Aviation Hall of Fame in 2013:
Carl “Chub” Elliott Wheeler
- Born October 1, 1911 in Murphysboro, IL
- Moved to East St. Louis, IL (Chub’s father was a railroad engineer with the M&O) after the 1925 Tri-State Tornado nearly destroyed all of Murphysboro, IL, killing 450 people there.
- In 1928, Parks Air College opens and construction of Curtiss-Steinberg Airport starts (full operations in 1930) in East St. Louis, IL (now Cahokia, IL)
 - On September 1, 1930, Chub takes his first airplane ride at Curtiss-Steinberg Airport.  A pilot named Giggs took Chub up for a 10 minute ride, reaching at one point an altitude of 2,000 feet in a Travel Air 2000, C9986.  Chub still has that ticket in his possession.
 - Once in high school, Chub would walk to Parks (3 miles from his home) and Curtiss Steinberg to see the aircraft and with frequent visits, came to be accepted at the airports and was able to freely roam the airports and hangars.  All the visits and time spent at the airports led to Chub being hired as a line boy at Curtiss-Steinberg, making $14/week servicing aircraft such as Union Electric’s Ford Trimotor.  His work there led to a friendship with Earl Hayden who in turn taught Chub to fly in Earl’s OX-5 powered Curtiss Robin (NC341K), soloing on September 2, 1935 and earning his pilot’s license on October 6, 1935 (Pilot Certificate #34908).  In his first year of flying, he had a total time of 81 hours.  Later, after taking a job at Mobil Oil, Chub saved enough money to buy the Curtiss Robin from Earl for $450.00.
- Chub earns his flight instructor’s certificate and teaches his first student, Roy Crouse, in an OX-5 powered Travel Air 2000, NC6085.
- Chub and partner Bill Hart set up a flying school at Curtiss-Steinberg and used the Curtiss Robin to offer flying lessons during weekends (while continuing to work at Mobil Oil during the week), putting 400 hours on the Robin before selling it in 1939 to purchase a Luscombe 8F.  In May, 1939, Chub had 555:15 hour total flying time, earned his ATP rating by 1940 and by May, 1941, had a total of 1,617:45 hours in his logbooks.
- In 1940, Chub and Bill Hart move their flying school to Lakeside Airport (near Collinsville, Illinois) when Parks Air College expanded its pilot training to Curtiss-Steinberg Airport as part of the expansion of the Civilian Pilot Training Program (CPTP), which was created in response to the impending war in Europe.  Before long, Chub closed his flying school and went to work at Parks Air College as a flight instructor.  Over 37,000 cadets passed through the program at Parks operated facilities, including Curtiss-Steinberg, with 24,000 becoming commissioned pilots during the war.
- With the declaration of war after the attack at Pearl Harbor, Chub, as a civilian instructor, was drafted into the Army Reserves.  This was done by the military to keep the civilian instructors from leaving to join the Army Air Corps and going off to the war fronts.  Their assigned rank was one rank above the students they were instructing.  Post war, their inactive reserve status kept them from receiving any of the benefits provided to active duty military personnel.

-  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.

- After the war was over, Chub came back to East St. Louis to become the Airport Manager at Curtiss-Steinberg (later called Parks-Metropolitan) Airport during 1946 and 1947.
- Chub became a corporate pilot in 1948, first with the Monsanto Company flying Douglas DC-3s and Beech D-18s for the President of the Board of Directors.  After Monsanto downsized their staffing, Chub went to work for Peabody Coal flying DC-3s and later, worked for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch flying the DC-3 there as well.  When the Post-Dispatch transitioned to new equipment in the late ‘50s, 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.
- Chub flew until he gave up his medical at the age of 92, the last aircraft he personally owned being a 1946 Fairchild 24.  Total flying time in his career was over 15,000 hours.

- 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.

 - Associations: OX-5 Aviation Pioneers, Quiet Birdmen, Experimental Aircraft Association, Antique Airplane Association, Founding Board Member/Life Member for the St. Louis Aviation Museum (now the Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum located at St. Louis-Downtown Airport in Cahokia, IL)
- Awards & Recognition:  FAA Wright Brothers’ “Master Pilot Award” (2009), Experimental Aircraft Association’s “Timeless Voices of Aviation”, OX5 Aviation Pioneers 2012 “Legion of Merit” Award

Museum Exhibits Update!

The Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum has been updating some of it’s exhibits, and we thought you would like a look at the new arrangements.  Better yet, visit the museum for yourself and surround yourself in St. Louis area aviation history!


Museum Promotes Aviation Heritage With Display at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport

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.

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!packages/c1druFly in a North American AT-6F Texan

Museum Receives Several High-Profile Aviation Artifacts

The Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum recently received several high-profile aviation artifacts to add to its already impressive collection at its location in historic Curtiss-Wright Hangar 2 at St. Louis Downtown Airport.  The museum has been preserving and exhibiting local aviation history for over 30 years, and continues to attract donations from across the region.  The museum receives hundreds of items each year of all types relating to St. Louis and Metro East Illinois aviation.  Additionally, the museum has a world-class archive of media relating to aviation history throughout the world that is regularly used by researchers in their books and professional journal articles.  Recent donations include:

Low-Speed Wind Tunnel model of the McDonnell Aircraft 119/220 executive jet prototype of the late 1950′s was donated by the University of Michigan.  The McDonnell 119/220 aircraft lost a military contract to the Lockheed Jetstar, and the only prototype was the personal aircraft of  James S. McDonnell for a time before being sold to private owners.  The aircraft currently resides at El Paso International Airport, TX.










Albatros D.III 7/8 scale replica wings along with plans and materials for the rest of the aircraft were donated by the family of the Late Andrew Smith of the Camdenton, MO area.  The wings were meticulously constructed, and the museum will pursue completion of the project with the assistance of other interested parties in the future.