Lincoln and the History of Aviation
Lincoln Airport Authority
“Lincoln…An Important Aircraft Production and Airport Center”
Proclaimed by the city’s chamber of commerce in 1929, these words symbolize the key position Lincoln, Nebraska, has occupied in the history of aviation.
- Production to Pageantry
- Engineering to Experimenting
- Wing-Walking to Barnstorming
- Nuclear Deterrence to Commercial Flight
Early Flight in Lincoln
Experimentation in flying came from all directions in Nebraska during the 1890s and early 1900s
The Baysdorfer brothers of Omaha, prolific innovators in their own right:
- Created the Comet: a lighter-than-air airship considered to the be the first Nebraska-built one of its kind.
- Constructed the first Nebraska-built airplane in Omaha in 1910.
Charles E. Taylor: "The First Aviation Mechanic"
- Charles Taylor, a former Lincoln resident, assisted the Wright Brothers in their design and construction of the engine that powered the Brothers’ first flight.
- Taylor was introduced to the Wright Brothers when he and his young family moved to Dayton, OH, in 1896.
- Taylor designed and built the engine that powered the Wright Brothers’ famous flight at Kitty Hawk in 1903.
- Taylor later helped power the first transcontinental flight of Cal Rodgers in 1911.
Early Aircraft Manufacturing and Schooling
- Harding, Zook, and Bahl (1919-1921)
- Lincoln Airplane and Flying School (1929-1945)
- Lincoln Standard Aircraft Co., Inc. (1922-1931)
- Union Airport (1930-1964)
- A 160-acre plot of land NW of the PO chosen after weeks of intense debate
- ≥ 5 other sites around Lincoln considered
- Flader Tract chosen because cost (price per acre), naturally flat (little development required), guarantee of well-lit and safe airfield for airmail, and pressure from Department of Commerce: Aeronautics Division
Lincoln Municipal Airport is completed, dedicated
- Surveying, seeding, construction, inspections
- Opened in 1929
- Omaha-Lincoln-Wichita air route
- Dedication in June 1930
Lincoln Army Airfield
- 1942 – Lincoln trained servicemen including mechanics, pilots and flight crews
- Bombardment practice
- De-activated in 1945
- Military-related activity persisted into the late 1940s and early 1950s
- Federal Public Housing Authority Project
- Post-WWII housing for veterans (many of whom UN students)
- Private bus route, cafeteria, post office, grocery store, movie theater
- Polio outbreak of 1952
- Torn down around 1966, repossessed to the city and later the LAA
Lincoln Air Force Base
- Activated by Strategic Air Command, 1952
- Improved runways and aviation infrastructure
- New barracks, mess halls, recreation facilities, warehouses, weapons bunkers
- Commercial aviation continued to operate
- De-activated in mid-1960s as technology surpassed landlocked airbases
Lincoln, Institutionalization and Aviation
- Airport Authorities Act (1957)
- Federal Aviation Agency/Administration (1958)
- Lincoln Airport Authority (1959)
Modern Lincoln Airport: Lincoln’s New “Front Door”
- Opened: December 4, 1974
- Dedicated June 6, 1975
- Boasted 42 flights in/out of LNK daily
- Serviced Chicago, St. Louis, Denver, Minneapolis, Kansas City