Aero Club of America (I)

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[Re-incorporated in 1910: see Aero Club of America (II).]

Founded 7 June 1905 as a spin-off from the Automobile Club of America to further an interest in ballooning. One of 8 organizations that met at the Conference Internationale d'Aeronautique in Paris 12-14 Oct. 1905 to put together the Federation Aeronautique Internationale (FAI). Automobile Club member Courtland Field Bishop was authorized to act as the group's representative in Paris.[1]

Filed incorporation papers in NY State in October 1905. Purposes included to advance the development of the science of aeronautics, to encourage all kinds of aerial navigation, to assist in international congresses, and to hold contests and shows of airships, balloons and other aerial constructions.[2] Initial officers included Homer W. Hedge, president; John F. O'Rourke and Charles J. Gidden, vice presidents; and Augustus Post, treasurer, who, with David H. Morris, are considered to be the 5 founding members. The fifth officer was S.M. Butler, secretary, who, like them, was a member of the Automobile Club of America. First official event, 14 Nov 1905, was a presentation by Charles B. Manley (former assistant of Samuel P. Langley) to both the Aero Club and Automobile Club. The Sixth Annual Official Show of the Automobile Club of America‎, held in January 1906, included an impressive aeronautical display including a Lilienthal glider, the Langley Aerodrome, and parts from the Wright Brothers engine.[3]

Exhibited in Grand Central Palace, Dec. 1906 and Oct. 1907. Held a race at the Pittsfield Gas Works, billed as first international balloon race in America. Promoted 33 balloon ascensions in 1906 and won the first Gordon-Bennett International Cup Race. In Oct. 1907, organized both the second Gordon-Bennett competition and the aeronautic exhibit at the Jamestown Expo, where it also conducted an aeronautic congress on 28-29 Oct. Besides officers, there were nearly 30 members as of 2 Apr. 1906. Some 240 active members listed in 1907 annual, 270 listed in 1909 annual. The NYT estimated on 4 July 1909 that fewer than half of the 300 odd members had been up in a balloon (in 1908 members made 147 ascensions of record) and that not more than 6 owned balloons. Soon after inception the Aero Club began joint projects with West Point Military Academy in New York.[4]

Published constitution and by-laws in the 1907 annual. Primarily a NYC area club, announced 9 Apr. 1908 that it was forming a confederation and had accepted 4 other clubs as affiliates. Published Articles of Affiliation of Aero Clubs in the U.S. with the ACA in 1909 annual; by then there were 5 affiliates. First national convention of affiliates held under ACA's auspices in St. Louis in January, 1910. Was reorganized as new body by its members on 7 Feb. 1910 and new articles were granted 17 Feb.

Annual banquets were in March 1907, 1908, and 1909. (See ACA annuals 1908-1910. Since each banquet date was not reported until the next year, this indicates that the annuals 1907-1908, were published prior to March of each year.) [Publication of The Aeronautical News monthly began in .......... ]and in 1906 the club was noted as forming a library. Motor Travel, A Magazine for Automobile Owners, the official journal of the Automobile Club of America was, from May-Oct. 1909, also the official journal of the Motor Boat Club of America and the Aero Club of America. The may have been the result of what sounds like a short-lived agreement, announced by the ACA on 27 Mar. 1909, that the ACA would become the Aviation Section of the Automobile Club of America. in late March. (See Automobile Club of America, Aviation Section.) The New York Times of 4 July 1909 also reported that members saw the dirigible as dominating the sport of sky sailing within a few years while it would take longer for members to come along in heavier-than-air machines.

The Aero Club were early promoters of the Wright Brothers and backed them through their various disputes. They issued a resolution commending the Wrights for their accomplishment three years before any member was able to witness them flying.[5]


  1. Robie, 1993, p. 9. "According to a news article of the time, one of the initial acts of the Aero Club's first president, Homer W. Hedge, was to send a telegram to Courtland Field Bishop in Paris, authorizing him to act as the organization's European representative. Bishop, an Automobile Club member, was in France learning to fly balloons."
  2. Robie, 1993, p. 10. "President Hedge stated that the Aero Club's purpose would be largely educational. Its policy, he said, would be to encourage 'a proper interest in the possibilities of aeronautics.' He hoped the members would be able to secure a balloon for the club to use by spring, but was emphatic that they would not limit themselves to ballooning. They would perhaps attempt to build their own balloon or dirigible, or even an 'aeroplane' during the following year."
  3. Robie, 1993, pp. 10–13.
  4. Robie, 1993, pp. 21–22.
  5. Robie, 1993, p. 16.


Conference Internationale d'Aeronautique Proces-Verbaux, 12-14 Oct 1905; FAI Conference Statutaire Proces-Verbaux (1906-1910); 1905 NYT, 24 Oct; 1906 NY Herald, 3 Apr.; ACA annuals (1907-1910); Pocket-Book of Aeronautics 442 (English ed., Jan. 1907); 1:5 Aeronautics (NYC) 43-44 (1907); 1:6 Aeronautics (NYC) 38 (1907); 1908 Intl Motor Cyclopaedia YB 13-14, Trade Dir. 5-6, Geog. Trade Dir. 203; 1907 Boston Daily Globe 9 Aug.; 1909 Baltimore Sun Mar. 28; 1909 NYT, 4 July; 1909 Jane's All the World's Aircraft 251; 1910 NYT, 13 Jan., 6 & 8 Feb.; 1910 St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 6 & 29-31 Jan.; 1910 BS, 30 Jan.; and WorldCat-OCLC

See also

Organization names Aero Club of America (ACA) (I)
Entity type
Country US
City New York City, New York
Affiliated with FAI
Scope National Federation and Local Club
Started aero 1905
Ended aero 1910, incorpor-ated as a new body, 17 Feb.
Key people
Wikidata id
  • Address: 753 Fifth Avenue, New York City (1906-1907); 12 East 42nd St.(1907-1909). Used balloon grounds in Pittsfield, Mass. ( -1907 Aug.) and North Adams, Mass. (1907 Aug.-);

|Cable address=Aeromerica, New York (1906-1910) |Phone=2 }}