History of the Indianapolis Aero Club

AeroClub_Est1933_Logo03-500x386Edward F. New, William Sherman and Dr. Charles W. Roller founded our present club in June, 1933.  The club started with a group of about thirty-five aviation minded persons.  The Hoosier Flying Club preceded our club.  It, in turn, was preceded by the Aero Club of Indianapolis which was formed in 1922 by members of the 464th Pursuit Squadron based at Schoen field to “make Indianapolis the aviation center of the country.”  Much of the early history is lost in the files of the Indiana State Library.  It is known however, that the early club was interested in “Indiana air tours, dead stick landings, and scavenger hunts”.  For years, the members enjoyed many group cross-country flights.  Trips were made to Calgary, Banff, Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, and more.  On one trip to Florida there were forty-five airplanes.  The last of the significant fly-outs were a weekend at Rough River State Park and lunch on a stern-wheeler on the Ohio.

The “Indianapolis Aero Club” and “Hoosier Hospitality” have combined to obtain many notable speakers that have gained a nationwide reputation for the club.  Space does not permit listing all of the hundreds of notable speakers who have attended our monthly dinner meetings. These speakers have included air race pilots, hump pilots, WWII fighter aces, astronauts, the originator of the “Star Wars” anti-missile program, the heads of aviation museums, the founder of the EAA, three survivors of the “Memphis Belle” (one of whom included our scholarship program in his will), many military aviation heroes, the heads of aircraft factories, and many authors of aviation related books, such as “God Is My Co-Pilot” and “They Call Me Mr. Bonanza” etc.

concordWe enjoyed a Concorde flight engineer that British Airways sent from London at no cost to us.  We also listened to a man who flew across the country and back in his ultra-light to celebrate his 70th birthday.  The pilot of the TWA airliner hijacked to Beirut gave his first public talk about the hijacking to an audience of over 750 (He later returned to our Club to give his last public talk on the event).

Our own members have also provided excellent programs.  In the past, these have included a member of a parachute jumping team that forms intricate formations as they freefall, a member who flew his Bonanza to Hawaii, two members who flew around the world in a single engine Piper and returned to Indiana on schedule.

The Indianapolis Aero Club has charted commercial flights to EAA Airventure,museum Oshkosh and other charters have been sponsored, taking club members to many aviation destinations including the Air & Space Museum in Washington, DC, NASA in Huntsville, AL, and two trips to the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, FL (including a day at sea watching planes take-off and land on the aircraft carrier Lexington). A very special trip was organized to the new Udvar-Hazy Center, which is the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum’s annex at Washington Dulles International Airport.

blue angelsOn a number of occasions, the Indianapolis Aero Club has hosted the Navy’s Blue Angels and U.S. Airforce Thunderbirds during their past performances at the Indianapolis Airshows. In addition, many symposiums have been organized surrounding the Blue Angels, the Thunderbirds, and the surviving members of the WWII Black Sheep Squadron. Many of these symposiums had guest lists nearing 500 in attendance.

Twice the club hosted the state’s largest EAA Young Eagle events, using over 35 member pilots and their airplanes. During each one of these Young Eagle events over 400 underprivileged kids were given the opportunity to fly in a variety of privately owned airplanes that ranged from a Piper Cub, a Boeing Stearman, to a Cessna Citation.

The purpose of Indianapolis Aero Club has been to inform and educate the general public, including its members, regarding general aviation in Indiana. It has fulfilled this mission continuously since 1933 making it one of the largest and oldest aero clubs in the country.

scholarshipIn addition to being the voice of general aviation in Indiana, the Indianapolis Aero Club every year awards two scholarships for students who think they may be interested in Aeronautical Engineering.  One scholarship is awarded for the EAA Air Academy at Oshkosh, WI (world’s greatest fly-in) and another is awarded for the U.S. Space and Rocket Center at Huntsville, AL.  These scholarships include all food and lodging costs of the aviation camps.  Whether it be at Oshkosh or Huntsville, these scholarship recipients are exposed to the wonders of the field of Aeronautics and will begin to understand the importance of quick, sound, decision making.

The Indianapolis Aero Club is a not-for-profit educational organization recognized under Section 501 C(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

On behalf of our members, which comprise individuals from all segments of the general aviation community, including pilots, aviation enthusiasts, aircraft owners, operators, businesses that utilize aircraft, mechanics, and manufacturers, we encourage you to become a member of our Indianapolis Aero Club and enjoy our family, our activities, and help us with our mission.