Aero Club of Pennsylvania

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On 17 Dec. 1909, the first licensed balloonist in Pennsylvania, Arthur T. Atherholt, assembled 14 Philadelphians to propose forming a new body to encourage the growing interest in aviation in Pennsylvania. The Aero Club of Pennsylvania (ACP) counts December 1909 as when it was organized although it was on 10 Jan. 1910 that rules were adopted, officers elected, and jurisdiction assumed in Pennsylvania through the ACA. Incorporation in Pennsylvania was 13 May 1910. By 1 Apr. 1910, the club owned a Blériot and a Curtiss machine. By the end of 1910, three leading balloon groups in Philadelphia -- Aero Club of Philadelphia, Ben Franklin Aeronautical Society, and Philadelphia Aeronautical Recreational Society -- had merged with the ACP. Flying, published Jan. 1912-July 1921, was the official publication of the ACA, the ACP, and others. Aeronautics, published in NY, was the official publication of the ACP in 1914. The Historical Society of PA has ACP records including a minutebook that covers 1909-1953.

Initial officers included Arthur T. Atherholt, pres.; R. H. Beaumont and Louis J. Bergdoll, VPs; Jack Hiscock, sec.; and Laurence Maresh, treas. Atherholt was reelected 20 Jan. 1911. 175 members in June 1910. Through the efforts of club member Henry M. Neely, the then largest aviation exhibition ever held in the USA. ran at the Phila. Armory 3-10 Nov. 1910; 30,000 spectators attended the air show at Point Breeze Race Track in the city's Driving Park. In 1912, the club established Eagle Field in the town of Manoa, 3 miles west of Philadelphia. In the club's first decade, Robert Glendinning and other club enthusiasts were instrumental in establishing the Phila. School of Aviation to train pilots in techniques of water operation. The Essington Seaplane facility on the banks of the Delaware River south of the Philadelphia Navy Yard, where the school was located, was one of 4 such sites in the nation when the USA entered WW1 in 1917. Although having jurisdiction in PA for FAI-sanctioned events, the membership appears to have always been drawn from the Delaware Valley and not the entire Commonwealth.

The ACP claims that the Ben Franklin Balloon Association (BFBA) had also merged with it by the end of 1910, but our research indicates that the BFBA was a close corporation, apparently assembled to handle the purchase of a balloon for the Ben Franklin Aeronautical Society. The April 1910 issue of Aircraft says the ACP's constitution and bylaws were adopted on 17 Dec. 1909 and on the 18th, the application for charter was prepared. While 17 Dec. 1909 appears to be the first meeting, we do not have another source that says the constitution, by-laws, and application for charter were prepared in December. The ACP currently claims to be the third oldest continuously operating aviation club in the U.S., the older being the Aero Club of New England and the Aero Club of Washington, DC.

Affiliated with ACA in 1911 or earlier.


  • 1 American Aeronaut and Aerostatist 195 (1908); 1910 Aircraft, 1 Apr.; 1910 NYT 3 & 23 June; 8 Aeronautics (NYC) 80 (1911); 2:11 Flying 34 (1913); 5 Flying 250 (1916); 6 Flying 498 (1917); 8 Flying 549 (1919); 9 Flying 50 (1920);; ACA annuals (1911-1917, 1919); Goodyear11 (1919); National Union Catalog Pre-1956 Imprints; National Union Catalog Pre-1956 Imprints, and WorldCat-OCLC; Dir1920

Organization names Aero Club of Pennsylvania
Entity type
Country US
City Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Affiliated with ACA
Scope State and Local
Started aero 1909
Ended aero Still exists
Key people
Wikidata id
  • Address: Betz Bldg., Philadelphia (at least 1910-1917); Morris Building, Philadelphia (at least 1919-1920)

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