Aero Club of America
The Aero Club of America was a social club formed in 1905 by Charles Glidden and others to promote aviation in America. It was the parent organization of numerous state chapters, the first being the Aero Club of New England. It thrived until 1923, when it transformed into the National Aeronautic Association
National Aeronautic Association
The National Aeronautic Association of the United States is a non-profit 501 organization and a member of the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale , the international standard setting and record-keeping body for aeronautics and astronautics. NAA is the official record-keeper for United States...

. It issued the first pilot's licenses
Pilot licensing and certification
Pilot licensing or certification refers to permits to fly aircraft that are issued by the National Aviation Authority in each country, establishing that the holder has met a specific set of knowledge and experience requirements. This includes taking a flying test. The certified pilot can then...

 in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, and successful completion of its licensing process was required by the United States Army for its pilots until 1914. It sponsored numerous air shows and contests. The organization gave out the Collier Trophy
Collier Trophy
The Collier Trophy is an annual aviation award administered by the U.S. National Aeronautics Association , presented to those who have made "the greatest achievement in aeronautics or astronautics in America, with respect to improving the performance, efficiency, and safety of air or space...

. Cortlandt Field Bishop was President of the Aero Club of America in 1910.


In the summer of 1905, several members of the Automobile Club of America
American Automobile Association
AAA , formerly known as the American Automobile Association, is a federation of 51 independently operated motor clubs throughout North America. AAA is a not-for-profit member service organization with more than 51 million members. AAA provides services to its members such as travel, automotive,...

 including Charles Glidden, Homer W. Hedge, David Morris
David Hennen Morris
David Hennen "Dave" Morris was an American lawyer, diplomat, and Thoroughbred racehorse owner who co-founded the International Auxiliary Language Association ....

, John F. O'Rourke, and Augustus Post founded the Aero Club of America. They were avid balloonists but found little support in America for the sport of aviation. They determined to establish a new club with an organization similar to the Automobile Club but whose purpose was to promote aviation, much like the Aero Club of France. Homer Hedge became the first President.

In 1910, three different conventions were held in New York among aeronautical clubs and societies. The National Council of Affiliated Clubs of the Aero Club of America, was formed. Thirty-nine delegates, representing constituencies from Pasadena, California
Pasadena, California
Pasadena is a city in Los Angeles County, California, United States. Although famous for hosting the annual Rose Bowl football game and Tournament of Roses Parade, Pasadena is the home to many scientific and cultural institutions, including the California Institute of Technology , the Jet...

, to Boston
Boston is the capital of and largest city in Massachusetts, and is one of the oldest cities in the United States. The largest city in New England, Boston is regarded as the unofficial "Capital of New England" for its economic and cultural impact on the entire New England region. The city proper had...

, met at the Aero Club and formed the parent organization of various state chapters.

At the Belmont Air Show
Air show
An air show is an event at which aviators display their flying skills and the capabilities of their aircraft to spectators in aerobatics. Air shows without aerobatic displays, having only aircraft displayed parked on the ground, are called "static air shows"....

 in October 1910, a considerable controversy arose between the Englishman Claude Graham-White and the American J. B. Moisant. In one race around the Statue of Liberty
Statue of Liberty
The Statue of Liberty is a colossal neoclassical sculpture on Liberty Island in New York Harbor, designed by Frédéric Bartholdi and dedicated on October 28, 1886...

, Graham-White won by several minutes, but due to a technicality, the race and considerable prize money was awarded to Moisant. John Armstrong Drexel
John Armstrong Drexel
John Armstrong Drexel was an American aviation pioneer. With William McArtle, he founded the New Forest Flying School at East Boldre, the second school for pilots in Great Britain and the fifth in the world. On August 12, 1910, he set the world altitude record of 6,750 feet in a Blériot monoplane...

 made public statements accusing the organization of favoritism toward its own members, and Drexel held a competing dinner banquet at the same time as the awards banquet of the organization. The schism among the membership threatened the integrity of the organization, but was ultimately resolved with Drexel's resignation.

Historical notes

Some of the later licenses issued by the Aero Club of America bore the printed signature of Orville Wright. Wright served for a time as Chairman of the Aero Club of America's Contest Committee. Contrary to popular myth, the Wright brothers were not issued licenses number 4 and 5 for malicious reasons. They were simply among the five pilots who had, in America, demonstrated their ability to fly airplanes before the Aero Club of America's licensing program began. Those first five licenses were issued in alphabetical order –-- a practice followed by other national organizations belonging to the FAI.

Pilot's licenses were not required by law (except by some states) until well after World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

. Aero Club of America licenses were required for participation in sporting events and demonstrations sanctioned by the ACA and FAI, and they gave credibility to pilots seeking to perform demonstration flights for hire, but many American pilots never applied for a license, which required a demonstration of flight proficiency. The ACA was also notorious for the inflexibility of its licensing process, which prescribed, among other items, a letter of application, a photograph of a candidate, appointment of an ACA examiner, and his report of examination, all of which had to be submitted in the correct form and sequence for a license to be issued, whether the candidate passed the flight test or not.

Notable Licensees

Some notable early pilots issued licenses by the Aero Club of America are listed below.

Airplane division

  • 01 Glenn Curtiss
    Glenn Curtiss
    Glenn Hammond Curtiss was an American aviation pioneer and a founder of the U.S. aircraft industry. He began his career as a bicycle then motorcycle builder and racer, later also manufacturing engines for airships as early as 1906...

  • 02 Frank Purdy Lahm
  • 03 Louis Paulhan
    Louis Paulhan
    Isidore Auguste Marie Louis Paulhan, known as Louis Paulhan, was a pioneering French aviator who in 1910 flew "Le Canard", the world's first seaplane, designed by Henri Fabre....

      - French aviator
  • 04 Orville Wright(?honorary)
  • 05 Wilbur Wright (?honorary)
  • 06 Clifford B. Harmon
    Clifford B. Harmon
    Clifford B. Harmon born July 1, 1866, Urbana, Ohio, died June 25, 1945, Cannes, France, was a wealthy real estate developer and aviator. He founded the International League of Aviators and was the sponsor of the Harmon Trophy.Harmon's real estate success came from developing suburban New York,...

  • 07 Thomas Scott Baldwin
    Thomas Scott Baldwin
    Thomas Scott Baldwin was a pioneer balloonist and U.S. Army major during World War I. He was the first American to descend from a balloon by parachute.-Early career:...

  • 08 John Armstrong Drexel
    John Armstrong Drexel
    John Armstrong Drexel was an American aviation pioneer. With William McArtle, he founded the New Forest Flying School at East Boldre, the second school for pilots in Great Britain and the fifth in the world. On August 12, 1910, he set the world altitude record of 6,750 feet in a Blériot monoplane...

  • 09 Todd Shriver
  • 10 Charles Foster Willard
  • 13 Leon Richardson
  • 17 Eugene Ely
  • 24 Charles Terres Weymann
    Charles Terres Weymann
    Charles Terres Weymann was an early aeroplane racing pilot and businessman. He was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on 2 August 1889 of an American father and Haitian motherIt is said that Charles Weymann's mother was Cornelie Miot, herself Haitian and daughter of Charles Miot and Lesinska Cecile...

  • 28 Theodore Gordon Ellyson
    Theodore Gordon Ellyson
    Theodore Gordon Ellyson, USN , nicknamed "Spuds", was the first United States Navy officer designated as an aviator . Ellyson served in the experimental development of aviation in the years before and after World War I. He also spent several years before the war as part of the Navy's new...

  • 37 Harriet Quimby
    Harriet Quimby
    Harriet Quimby was an early American aviator and a movie screenwriter. In 1911 she was awarded a U.S. pilot's certificate by the Aero Club of America, becoming the first woman to gain a pilot's license in the United States. In 1912 she became the first woman to fly across the English Channel...

    , first woman
  • 44 Matilde Moisant
    Matilde Moisant
    Matilde E. Moisant was an American pioneer aviator. She was the second woman in the country to get a pilot's license.- Early life :...

    , second woman
  • 133 Julia Clark
    Julia Clark
    Julia Clark was the third woman to receive a pilot's license from the Aero Club of America, and though British, she was the first female pilot to die in an air crash in the United States....

    , third woman
  • 148 Katherine Stinson
    Katherine Stinson
    Katherine Stinson was an early female flier. She was the fourth woman in the United States to obtain a pilot's certificate, which she earned on July 24, 1912, at the age of 21 while residing in Pine Bluff, AR...

     (1891–1977) fourth woman. She convinced flight instructor Max Lillie of Chicago to take her on as a student in 1912. Katherine became the fourth licensed female pilot in the U.S., began touring as a stunt pilot and became one of the country's most famous female aviators.
  • 173 Bernetta A. Miller
    Bernetta A. Miller
    Bernetta Adams Miller was a pioneering woman aviator who was the fifth licensed woman pilot in the United States...

     fifth woman
  • 303 Marjorie Stinson, (sister of Katherine) the ninth licensed female pilot in United States.
  • 440 Reginald Malcolm, World War I flying ace
    Flying ace
    A flying ace or fighter ace is a military aviator credited with shooting down several enemy aircraft during aerial combat. The actual number of aerial victories required to officially qualify as an "ace" has varied, but is usually considered to be five or more...

Seaplane (Hydroaeroplane) division

  • 01 Adolph G. Sutro
  • 02 Lieutenant Alfred A. Cunningham(USN)
  • 03 Lieutenant B. B. Smith (USN)
  • 04 LCDR P. N. L. Bellinger (USN)
  • 05 Ensign G. DeC. Chevalier (USN)
  • 06 L. A. Vilas aka Jack Villas
  • 07 William Ellwood Doherty
  • 08 H. P. Harris
  • 09 Ernest C. Bass
  • 10 Steve MacGordon
  • 26 Roger Weightman Jannus

Balloon division

See who's who of ballooning.
  • 01 Major J.C. McCoy (USA)
  • 02 A. Leo Stevens
  • 03 Frank S. Lahm
  • 04 Colonel Frank Purdy Lahm (USA)
  • 05 Carl E. Meyers
  • 06 Colonel Henry B. Hersey (USA)
  • 07 Allan R. Hawley
  • 08 Colonel Charles deForest Chandler
    Charles deForest Chandler
    Colonel Charles deForest Chandler was an American military aviator, and the first head of the Aeronautical Division, U.S. Signal Corps that later became the United States Air Force.-External links:**...

  • 09 Thomas Scott Baldwin
    Thomas Scott Baldwin
    Thomas Scott Baldwin was a pioneer balloonist and U.S. Army major during World War I. He was the first American to descend from a balloon by parachute.-Early career:...

  • 10 Albert C. Triaca
  • 27 Sylvester Louis Von Phul
  • 533 Harry Rasmussen (1886–1968)

Airship (Dirigible) division

Note: "Dirigible" simply meant that the airship could be made to go in any direction.
  • 01 Thomas Scott Baldwin
    Thomas Scott Baldwin
    Thomas Scott Baldwin was a pioneer balloonist and U.S. Army major during World War I. He was the first American to descend from a balloon by parachute.-Early career:...

  • 02 Frank Purdy Lahm
  • 03 Horace B. Wild
  • 04 Augustus Roy Knabenshue
    Augustus Roy Knabenshue
    Augustus Roy Knabenshue was an American aeronautical engineer and aviator.-Biography:He was born on July 15, 1875 in Lancaster, Ohio....

  • 05 A. Leo Stevens
  • 06 Frank W. Goodale
  • 07 R. H. Upson
  • 08 R. A. D. Preston
  • 09 Walter J. Pouchot
  • 10 Noel Chadwick

See also

Other Aero clubs
  • Aéro-Club de France
    Aéro-Club de France
    The Aéro-Club de France was founded as the Aéro-Club on 20 October 1898 as a society 'to encourage aerial locomotion' by Ernest Archdeacon, Léon Serpollet, Henri de la Valette, Jules Verne and his wife, André Michelin, Albert de Dion, Alberto Santos-Dumont, Henry Deutsch de la Meurthe, and Henry de...

  • Royal Aero Club
    Royal Aero Club
    The Royal Aero Club is the national co-ordinating body for Air Sport in the United Kingdom.The Aero Club was founded in 1901 by Frank Hedges Butler, his daughter Vera and the Hon Charles Rolls , partly inspired by the Aero Club of France...

  • Aeroclub Royal de Belgique (1901)
  • Aero Club of South Africa (1920)
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