washington park il

Museum Curator Produces Authoritative Work on Washington Park, the First St. Louis Airport

Mr. Jack Abercrombie, Curator for the Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum, has produced a scholarly work entitled, “Washington Park: The First St. Louis Airport.”  The 18-page article took hundreds of hours of painstaking research to establish the location for the “National Aviation Meet for Novices,” the first event to attract amateur flyers.  Access to the preferred location that would later be known as Kinloch Field in St. Louis County was still pending, and the President of the St. Louis Aero Club, Albert Bond Lambert, searched for a suitable location on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River.  Mr. Abercrombie describes the events that culminated in choice of  the Washington Park area outside of East St. Louis, IL for the site:

The year 1910 was the most exciting period in American aeronautical history. It began in January with an international air meet at Dominguez Field near Los Angeles. From there, the spectacles spread throughout the country in a “frenzy” of shows and meets of one kind or another, both small and large. During almost every week, new flight records were established. It has been estimated that a hundred major events were held around the country during the year.

The aeronautical fever captured St. Louis as well. The Aero Club of St. Louis, whose president was Albert Bond Lambert (for whom Lambert-St. Louis International Airport is named), sponsored several events during the last half of the year in efforts to establish St. Louis as the country’s “Air Capital.” Most of the St. Louis events (an International Aero-nautic Tournament, an International Balloon Race, and a National Aero Show) have been well described.  However, the first event of the year has been relatively undocumented, its location undefined, the fact that it even occurred, nearly forgotten—the National Aviation Meet for Novices. This article is intended to shed some light about the location of the event, the aeroplanes, and the pilots (or aspiring pilots), as well as the aftermath.

The entire article will be published on the museum’s website http://www.airandspacemuseum.org/education.html in the near future.