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  • Writer's pictureRochelle Gridley

Pilots return to Central Illinois

Many young men from Central Illinois became pilots during WWII and started businesses in aircraft after the war. They opened airports in small towns, larger cities and started flying schools on their own farms. Here is a sampling of those men and airports. (All photos from Pantagraph Negative Collection, McLean County Museum of History)


Stanley Bright of Mackinaw IL was a pilot in the India Burma China theater and had 27 flights over "The Hump" when he returned to Illinois. He and his father started a flying school on their farm. Stanley was the McLean and Livingston County representative for Taylorcraft. (Yes, he was in Tazewell County, this is what the Pantagraph reported on Jan 18 1946, p. 18) The men had built three runways -- two 1600 feet long and another 1300 feet long. In this image he is teaching his mother to fly. Many wives learned to fly, but only one young woman was noted to have taken lessons in McLean County (Myra Jayne Rodgers.)



The Bloomington Municipal Airport was expanded in 1948. Here a Cessna 170 is in front of the control tower.


The opening of the Pontiac Airport was enhanced by the appearance of a helicopter. The copter was owned by Aer Age Enterprises, Marshall Follett (president), Harry Lauth (corp. sec'y) and Bob Bromberger (pilot). Note the advertising on the copter!



The Bloomington Municipal Airport in 1948 (note East Lawn Cemetery in bottom right corner).



Ray Suiter and Ethel Jones were flight instructors at the Lincoln Airfield in 1946. In the war Ray Sutter was a flight instructor and Ethel Jones was a WASP pilot for one year. Ray Sutter had invested $10,000 in the airfield and a distributorship for Aeronca planes in 38 states. Ethel Jones later worked as a flight instructor at the Bloomington Airport as well.

Robert Miller delivered the first plane to the Chatsworth Airport in 1946. He is pictured here with F.L. Livingston. Miller had graduated from the Parks Air College (St. Louis) and was a veteran of the battles over Italy.



Brothers Harry and Howard Pick of Chenoa were operating a flight school in 1948. The GI bill allowed any veteran to take flying lessons and earn a pilot's license. Harry Pick graduated high school in 1944 and quickly enlisted as a pilot and aerial photographer. Howard Pick was the older brother and had served in Europe as an infantryman. They operated the air service in Chenoa until 1957.




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jefuller1
18 มิ.ย. 2564

The airport in this picture was south of the famous "Tropics"/Route 66 restaurant, and west of the Logan County Fairgrounds. Anyone with more pictures or info about it, please contact me at jefuller1@comcast.net. Thanks.

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walter_miller_429
28 ส.ค. 2563

I helped to direct traffic when the Logan County Airport was dedicated in 1949. I have flown out of three different locations in Lincoln. First was a field at the end of Decatur Street. Some of the men returning from WW2 bought a Piper Cub and took us for a ride around Lincoln for about $1.50. The second was a flying field where the present-day Wal-Mart sits. I think that a ride around Lincoln was about $3.00. The third was the present location of the Logan County Airport.

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