Aviation Chicago Timeline

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               Aviation Chicago Timeline traces the pivotal role that Chicago played in the development of aviation in the United States. Long before the Wright Brothers took to the air, Chicago had an active balloon community, and Octave Chanute was providing the latest aviation research to scores of experimenters. In the 1910s, the city was bustling with flight schools, airplane manufacturers, air shows, and aviation developers. By the 1920s, Chicago was the core of the U.S. air mail system and easily transitioned into a major air passenger hub. Throughout its history, Chicago has produced leaders who shaped U.S. aviation policy, including Benjamin Lipsner (the first Superintendent of Aerial Mail of the Post Office Dept.), Daniel McCracken (major designer of the Air Commerce Act of 1926 and the the first Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Aviation), and Samuel Skinner (Secretary of Transportation under Pres. George H.W. Bush).

               Aviation Chicago Timeline offers a fascinating account of more than a thousand events documenting the development of aviation in Chicago and the surrounding region. The author, Michael Haupt, provides a series of accessibly written stories that portray Chicago’s gripping aviation history in an inviting and interesting fashion. Haupt’s meticulous research, attention to detail, and exhaustive notes make this book an essential tool for everyone interested in the history of aviation in the U.S., but especially in Chicago.


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Chicago, the Aviation Capital


(from the Introduction)

Most people today consider Chicago to be an “aviation capital” only in its demonstrated ability to thoroughly disrupt air travel throughout the nation. Many who are older or have an interest in Chicago history realize that Municipal/Midway Airport was the nation’s aviation crossroads for decades.

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1917/06 Great Lakes Forms Air Squadron

As commander of the Great Lakes Naval Training Center, Capt. William Moffett formed an aviation training squadron in June 1917. Moffett’s attitude on the importance of aviation was greatly influenced by his North Shore neighbors and ACI members, particularly William Wrigley Jr., Jack Vilas and Pop Dickinson.

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1908/12 First Chicago-Made Airplane Flies

 Iowa-native Carl S. Bates attended Armour Institute[a], in Chicago, where he was taught by Octave Chanute, among others. Bates started building a plane of his own, a smaller version of Curtiss’s plane. While trying to build airplanes, Bates discovered the need for reliable, lightweight engines so he built his own. He formed the Bates Aero Motor Co. which produced high-quality air and water-cooled engines.

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1930/06/27 Alleged Mob-Related Hangar Fires

 At 2:45 am Friday June 27, 1930, a night watchman discovered a fire in a hangar at Pal-Waukee Air Port. It destroyed one plane but quick action by the staff kept the fire from engulfing the hangar, unlike the Municipal fire a few days earlier that destroyed two hangars and 27 planes.

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1912/07/14 Katherine Stinson Licensed


On July 14, 1912, Katherine Stinson became the 4th woman pilot (Federation Aeronautique Internationale license #148) in the U.S. after training at Max Lillie’s Flying School. Her flight test required flying figure-eights and climbing to an altitude of 500 ft. At the time of her licensing, Stinson was the only woman pilot in the country. Harriet Quimby and Julia Clark had both died and Mathilda Moisant had retired from flying.

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1932 Airline Pilots Strike Century Airlines


E.L. Cord, best known as the designer of the Auburn, Cord and Dusenberg automobiles, had started Century Air Lines in March 1931. Because Century didn’t have any air mail contracts to subsidize its operations it had to rely solely on passenger revenue.

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