Muscatine County, Iowa
Muscatine Journal & News-Tribune
Centennial Edition
31 May 1940

Section 1 - Page 8 & 9, Submitted by Charlene Nichols Hixon, July 2, 2012

Page 8

Aviation History Dates to 1911
Noted Aviator First to Fly for This Area

Lincoln Beachey, a noted stunt aviator, proved to a huge crowd of skeptical Muscatine spectators as long ago as September, 1911, that a man could fly through the air like a bird. The occasion that brought the well-known birdman to Muscatine was homecoming week, that was observed here from Sept. 25 to 30 of that year. With the Giant Carnival company serving as another strong attraction, special trains were needed to convey crowds to the city.

While police strove to clear a runaway for the frail craft among the surging hundreds, Beachey “hopped off” from the ball park in South Muscatine and circled the field at a height of a few hundred feet, which at that time seemed to be a tremendous altitude. The climax to the stunt flier’s exhibition came when he dipped under the Muscatine high bridge and later thrilled the crowd again by holding his hands aloft while he guided his ship with his feet. So successful was the barnstormer’s exhibition that some farsighted residents even talked of establishing an airline from Muscatine to Davenport.

Beachey later was killed while thrilling a crowd at the San Francisco exhibition. Courageous pilot that he was, he chose to plunge into San Francisco bay rather than to fly into the crowd.

If he should come back to Muscatine today, Lincoln Beachey would be amazed at the size of the big airliners that sometimes streak over the city and he would also be surprised at the nonchalance with which Muscatine residents regard aviation.

The Muscatine municipal airport each day accommodates planes many times more powerful and maneuverable than was Beachey’s makeshift ship that had no fuselage and compelled the pilot to cramp himself into the machine as best he could and brave the elements without protection of even so much as a windshield.

Muscatine’s place in the aviation world, passing from the haphazard barn-storming days, moved into a position of permanence with the establishment of the airport on highway 61 southwest of the city. A group of local men who formed a company known as the Muscatine Airport, Inc., set up the airport and administered it for more than two years.

Records on file in the office of City Recorder Harold Hanson disclose that the first meeting of this company’s board of directors was held on May28, 1928. S. G. Stein was president; W. F. Bishop, treasurer; H. G. Thompson, vice president, and R. L. Fairbanks, secretary.

Through a deed dated Dec. 4, 1930, ownership of the airport was transferred from the private company to the City of Muscatine. Making provisions for the administration of the airport, the city council passed an ordinance calling for the formation of a board of airport commissioners. This board held its first meeting on Jan. 6, 1931, and elected S. G. Stein as the first president and W. F. Bishop as the vice president.

The airport commission still functions actively and present members are Eddie Berg, chairman; Atty. Wayne Eckhardt, O. A. Hammer, S. G. Stein, and Arthur Umlandt. The airport, which comprises 140 acres, has been developed until it is one of the best in the state. The fact that the soil is sandy and does not become soft after rains, virtually makes it an all-weather field. Members of the airport commission, with the war in Europe placing emphasis on aviation as a preparedness factor, are looking forward to still greater advancement in the future.

The airport already has become the headquarters for one of the outstanding NYA ground schools in the state. Forty-seven students are now enrolled in the school and it is expected that by July 1 a new class will be added, raising the quota of students to about 80. The students now taking work will complete their course in August and will be permitted to enter the senior school.

Boys able to give 120 hours a month to the school are now being enrolled for the new term that starts on July 1. In addition to learning how to repair and maintain planes, the boys are taught to do welding and other general work with tools.

Several planes are kept at the airport permanently and more than 80 aviation enthusiasts who either hold a flying license of some kind or who are aviation students use the airport as their headquarters. About half of this number already hold licenses and the rest are hoping to earn their certificates in the next few weeks. The majority of the aviation addicts are from Muscatine with several from surrounding towns, including four from Davenport, five from Wapello and three from Columbus Junction.

The new hangar at the airport is commodious, being 118 feet long and 98 feet wide. The hangar in which the school is being conducted, the original hangar, has 4,500 square feet of floor space.

O. A. Hammer, one of the members of the airport commission, is well known along the commercial airlines as a loyal supporter of aviation. United Airlines some time ago presented him with a gold token signifying that he has flown one hundred thousand miles in United planes. Since that time he has flown many more hundreds of miles.

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Photo ~ A Step Forward. Spurgeon’s Mercantile company, 117 East Second street, moved to its present home, pictured here, about a year ago.

Page 9

Hundreds Are Served Daily at Cafeteria

Hundreds of pupils have been fed daily throughout the past school year at the spacious cafeteria room in the new Muscatine high school building, according to a report issued by Marinus Jensen, cafeteria director. Revealed in the report was the fact that approximately 200 pupils have been fed daily at the cafeteria throughout the past year, whereas the average number fed daily at the cafeteria at the high school building was 65. Improved and modernized facilities have accounted for the increase.

The cafeteria has facilities for accommodating approximately 350 diners at one time, but only on rare occasions has the room been crowded to capacity this year, according to the report. Equipment in the dining quarters was entirely new at the start of the year, and it was necessary at that time to add many dishes and utensils.

Average daily proceeds of the cafeteria were estimated at between $25 and $30 by the manager. Besides the regular paying customers, the cafeteria has provided 40 needy children with free meals each day during the year in carrying out a project sponsored jointly by the school and the county welfare association. The cafeteria has been popular as a banquet site during the year. Many banquets were served both the school and non-school organizations.

Meals at the cafeteria are prepared by a staff of four cooks, two of which are employed at regular salaries. The remaining two are supplied by the WPA here. Seven high school girls, a cashier and a dining room overseer are also employed on a part time basis.

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Stanley Engineering Company Congratulates
The Muscatine Journal On its 100th Anniversary

And, as in the past, we hope we may in a small measure play a part in the growth of Muscatine during the next 100 years. We are proud of the part we have had, as engineers, on various major projects in Muscatine in recent years, including:

1933 New Boiler in Municipal Electric Plant
1935 Concrete Storage Reservoir for Municipal Water Works
1937 Substation for Municipal Electric Plant
1937 Reconstruction of Mississippi River Bridge
1939-40 Extension of Municipal Electric Plant

Central State Bank Bldg.        Muscatine, Iowa

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