Aero Club of Illinois

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The Aero Club of Illinois was formed in February 1910 and appears to have been soon chartered by the State of Illinois. The principle aim of the club was described as to bring Chicago to the forefront of aeronautics in the USA. The primary interest of the club members appears to have been aeroplanes, not balloons, and most were considered able to buy machines of the latest and most perfected type to satisfy their own birdlike cravings. The official journal of the Aero Club of Illinois, which was also the first weekly aeronautic publication in the USA, was Aero, later Aero and Hydro, America's Aviation Weekly, and was published 8 Oct. 1910-14 Nov. 1914. Flying, published Jan. 1912-July 1921, was the official publication of the Aero Club of America, the Aero Club of Illinois, the Aero Club of Pennsylvania, the Aerial League of the World, and others. "Aerial Age," published June 1912-May 1913 in Chicago by Aerial Age Pub. Co., also appears to have been tied to the Aero Club of Illinois.

Initial officers were Octave Chanute, pres.; James E. Plew and Harold McCormick, VPs; Robert M. Cutting, sec.; and Charles E. Bartley, treas. Victor Lougheed was named consulting engineer. It was said nearly every line of business and professional activity had one or two members in the club's initial line-up. A membership of 300 was reached by June 1910. Entered a balloon in the August 1910 Harvard-Boston Meet. Published constitution and by-laws, flying field rules, 1911. Organized International Aviation Meet, Grant Park, 12-20 Aug. 1911, and aviation events at Clearing, 12-21 Sept. 1912. With 1,000 members by the end of 1911, was thought to be largest aero club in the U.S. Cicero Flying Field, then one of the most modern in the U.S., was utilized 1911-1915. What was to become Ashburn Field, a plot of land on Chicago's SW side, was purchased by Charles Dickinson in 1915 and turned over to club, which used it as its official flying field, 1915-1951. Club records, 1909-1948, are in Chicago Historical Society Research Center at Chicago History Museum.

Chanute was the club's president, apparently an honorary position, until his death. Scamehorn credits the vice presidents, Plew and McCormick, with providing the club's direction for its first three years. Until 1913, McCormick financed nearly all activities, including the costs at Cicero Field and the club's aviation programs. After 1912, Dickinson, assumed a larger part of the leadership and from 1913 paid the bills for nearly all activities Dickinson was first elected president in 1915 and served for 20 years. Cicero Flying Field was accessible from the 50th Avenue Station, Douglas Park Branch, Metropolitan Elevated Railway. It offered aviators a turf landing field, sheet metal and wooden hangars, and adequate facilities for maintenance and service of aeroplanes. Dickinson not only purchased and turned over to the club the tract that became Ashburn field, he made up from his own funds the field's annual operating deficit.

Affiliated with ACA in 1910 or earlier.

Officers in 1914: Charles Dickinson, James S. Stephens, T. Edward Wilder, Charles G. Dawes, Lee Hammond, Chance M. Vought.[1]


  • 1910 Chicago Daily Tribune, 13 Feb.; 1910 NYT 24 & 31 May and 23 June; 1910 Aircraft, 1 Apr. and 1 June; 1910 Boston Daily Globe, 13, 14, & 16 Aug.; 1912 Aircraft, 1 Jan.; 1:1 Aerial Age (of Chicago), June 1912; 2:11 Flying 34 (1913); 5 Flying 250 (1916); 6 Flying 498 (1917); 8 Flying 549 (1919); 9 Flying 50 (1920); 8 Aeronautics (NYC) 185 (1911); ACA annuals (1910-1917, 1919); Goodyear11 (1919), National Union Catalogue Pre-1956 Imprints; and WorldCat-OCLC; Chicago History Museum, www/; Chicago Historical Society Research Center,; Dir1920; H. Scamehorn, Balloons to Jets: A Century of Aeronautics Illinois, 1855-1955 (2000; originally published 1957), pp. 48H, 53, 69-70


  1. Aero and Hydro 8(2), 11 April 1914, p. 19.

Organization names Aero Club of Illinois
Entity type
Country US
City Chicago, Illinois
Affiliated with ACA, 1910 or earlier
Scope State
Started aero 1910
Ended aero 1920 or later
Key people
Wikidata id
  • Address: Office at 240 Michigan Ave., Chicago (at least 1910-1911); Room 130, the Auditorium Hotel, Chicago (1912-1919); 430 S. Michigan Avenue, Chicago (1919-1920). Utilized Cicero Flying Field, 16th to 22nd Streets and 48th to 52d Avenues,1911-1915; utilized Ashburn Field, 79th to 87th Streets and Pulaski Road to Cicero Ave., on Chicago's SW side, 1915-1951.

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