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The Maywood  Herald

In the late 1919 and the 1920s many newspaper articles chronicled the "shows", accidents and other events at Checkerboard Field.  Here are but a few of those articles.


1919 1920 1921 1922 1923 1924 1925 1927 1928
June 27

November 28

April 23

June 4

June 11

July 23

July 30

August 6

August 13

September 3

September 10

September 24

October 1

October 8

October 15

October 22

October 29

November 12

November 19

November 26

December 3

December 12

January 7

February 11

February 18

February 25

April 22

April 29

May 6

May 20

June 3

August 5

August 26

September 9

September 30

October 7

December 30

June 23

June 30

July 21

August 2

August 4

August 11

August 18

August 26

September 15


January 12 August 20

  August 22

October 24

June 12 October 7 August 8

From June 27, 1919


Will Be Used To Entertain Maywood People And Visitors


Committee Has Prepared Unusual Program Which Is Well Advertised

Plans have been completed for the holding of the most gigantic and entertaining celebration ever attempted in this community, on next Friday, Independence Day.

The program has been arranged by a joint committee representing the Maywood Commercial Association and the Maywood Patriotic Community Council, is now complete and has been so arranged as to afford amusement for all ages from early morning until late at night.

That the celebration is the direct cause of Maywood getting much favorable advertising is apparent to people for many miles around. The novel form of advertising is in the form of circulars, which are being dropped from an aeroplane by David L. Behncke, head of the World's first aeroplane express, who travels every second day delivering clothing for the well known tailoring firm of Alfred Decker & Cohn. He is dropping the advertising while enroute, while passing over towns within a radius of 50 miles from Maywood.

The trucks of the American Can Company are carrying posters inviting people to Maywood on the Fourth, while a large downtown merchandise house is enclosing advertising with thousands of pieces of mail which they are sending to their west side customers this week. Circulars have been hung in the street cars, while placards have been posted on auto roads leading to Maywood, from all directions. Window cards have been placed in the store windows, and on tomorrow banners will be hung on the street cars.


Local Artist

While the program is made up of a number of oat of town persons, still many of the main events of the day are being contributed by Maywood people who possess special talents.

At 4:30 o'clock and again at 7 o'clock the "Great Kins-Ners" sensational object balancer and equilibrist will stage a performance which has been received as a great .success on the most popular vaudeville stages of the country. Previous to his going on the vaudeville stage this artist was with Barnum and Bailey's circus for three years and Ringling Brothers for five years. If the committee was to secure this act at it's regular cost it would be considered almost prohibitive, but as the actor has become a resident of Maywood recently, moving to 215 South 17th Avenue, he is giving his service free as his contribution toward the celebration.

Chorus Choir and Band Concert

At 7:30 o'clock a chorus choir of 60 voices under direction of Niles Thorhaug will render a program at the band shell. Supplementing this choir work will be a concert by the band of Maywood Camp No. 7444(?) Modern Woodmen of America, under direction of Rudolph Kleen.

Aeroplane Exhibition

At 5:00 p.m. an aeroplane exhibition will be given above the park, by the world's first aero express. This exhibition promises to be something extraordinary as Behncke has spent five years in the government's service as a flyer previous to which time he spent two years in a private flying endeavor. At the time he was mustered out of government service he held the rank of 1st lieutenant. His duties in the army embraced that of an instructor as well as test pilot, it being, his work to testing out the ships in their first flights.

It is due largely to the efforts of Behncke that the Aero express maintained by the well known clothing firm of Alfred Decker & Cohn was instituted.  He is in charge of


the service making three flights each week going as far as Green Bay, Wisconsin, to deliver clothing. The machine which he will use on July Fourth is the one which he uses in his regular trips and which was built at a cost of more than $6,000. It is of the army basis, and equipped with a 100 horse power Curtis motor. He has promised an exhibition out of the ordinary.

Maywood is fortunate in securing this attraction as their was more there was more than 200 requests for exhibitions on the Fourth, but the persons in charge decided that Maywood should have it as they consider this their home town, the hangar being located on 12th Street near Des Plaines River.

Grand Fireworks Display

The fireworks program is one of the largest and best produced by the North American Fireworks Co. and will eclipse both in variety and quality anything ever seen in Maywood.

Among the high class feature pieces are the following:

  • Colors of our Allies

  • President Wilson

  • Battle of the Jutlands

  • Sea of Fire

  • Tree of Liberty

  • World in Rotation

  • Union Screen

  • Trenches at Night

  • The Venetian Fan

  • Horizontal Bar Acrobats

  • Gen. Pershing

  • The Eight Spoke

  • The Dancing Bear

  • Niagara Falls

  • Spirit of 1918


Official Program

The program of the days events will be issued in conjunction with a booklet of National songs. This program which will contain all of the days events will be distributed to the households of Maywood, during the early part of next week.


From November 28, 1919:


Chicago Air Postoffice Proposed for Checkerboard Field

Chicago's aerial mail landing station is to be established at Checkerboard flying field, just southeast of the Maywood village limits, according to unconfirmed reports received here yesterday.  No previous intimation has been made that the landing field for aerial mail would be transferred from Grant park here.  The change will be made with the next fifteen days, it is said.  

The landing field would be one of the stops of the Cleveland-Omaha aerial mail route.  One mail air plane would arrive eastward bound and one westward bound each day.  The run is made from Chicago to Cleveland at present in from 2 hours 20 minutes to 4 hours.

Continuing of the landing field in Grant park meant a larger hangar it is said.  Checkerboard field is 3,600 feet in length and 925 feet in width.

From April 23, 1920:


Two Aviators Hurt on Flight to Distribute Campaign Literature

Monroe Applegate and Edward Folson, former army aviators, were injured in a fall at the aviation field near the government health hospital, Saturday afternoon about 4 o'clock.  Both of the men were taken to the Oak Park hospital.   The airplane had been chartered to fly over the fifteenth ward in Chicago and distribute campaign literature.  When the machine fell several Maywood people rushed to the scene and extracted the injured men from the wreckage.

From June 4, 1920:



At the cost of one dollar a minute Maywood folk, along with other up to date people from all parts of the country, are indulging in the latest sport -- aviation.

Dow at the flying field on the Roosevelt road, near the Des Plaines River, scores of people every week avail themselves of the opportunity to soar up to and above the clouds offered by the Checkerboard Airplane Service to anybody who thinks the experience worth $10 for a ten minute, ride, which is the price charged this season against $15 last year.

Among the latest of the home town folk to emulate the eagle and the angel were Mr. and Mrs. Frank Soffel and their two sons, Dr. A. E. Soffel and Quentin Soffel. Also Mrs. James Reapsong, whose home is on Thirteenth Avenue, Broadview.

All were thrilled by their experience, but the case of Mrs. Reapsong is perhaps the most .remarkable, as when she went up she knew it might mean her death by heart failure.

For more than a year this matron, the mother of two children, had been possessed with a craze to take one of the trips into the air. Her husband, her friends and her physician all sought to dissuade her as she has heart trouble and it was feared she could not stand such a thrilling experience as a trip to cloudland.

But Wednesday of last week, with her husband safely away on business, she decided to indulge her fancy and although implored by her friends not to do so and despite their threats to call her husband home to stop her off she went to Maywood's sky terminal, otherwise known as Checkerboard Airdrome, planked down her $10 and demanded her tin minutes up in the air.

Company Not Responsible

Like all other passengers, Mrs. Reapsong was required before her flight to sign a card reading as follows:

"In consideration of being allowed to ride upon an airplane operated by the Checkerboard Airplane Service, the Undersigned hereby assumes all of the risks incident thereto, and hereby releases said Checkerboard Airplane Service, its members, agents and employees, and each of them, from any and all claims or liability for injuries or damage suffered or received by me resulting therefrom or arising in connection, therewith, and whether resulting in death or not. This release is and shall be binding upon my heirs, legal representatives and next of kin."

Then she was equipped with knitted flying cap and goggles, escorted to the airplane and after getting into the passenger seat via a stepladder, was strapped in and off she went. When asked about her experience the day after her flight Mrs. Reapsong admitted two facts -- the first that her husband was still in unaware of her adventure -- "I'll tell him tonight," she said—and the next that she was absolutely cured of her obsession to fly."

Admits Being Scared

"I was scared the whole time," she confessed, "especially just before and during the start. I was all tensed up, which is just the wrong way to be. The aviators told me that people who start off without fear have no trouble whatever. But all the time I was afraid it would be the death of me on account of my heart trouble. I felt sick all the way through, and suffered vomiting spells. I was very glad to get down again and don't believe I'll ever take another flight.

"The terrific noise of the motor bothered me a lot and I've been awake all night with the buzzing in my ears. However, I've had my trip among the clouds, and am alive to tell the tale, and don't believe the experience will cause any permanent harm to my health. So I'm satisfied."

It is quite possible the Reapsongs may yet be a flying family for the two children, especially the boy of ten years, is a devoted flying fan and eager to emulate his mother.


More from June 4, 1920:


What would be the last thing you would expect to see advertised on a airplane?  Tombstones!  Same here.  But that is just what is advertised on a smart looking biplane which uses the Checkerboard hangar as a garage.

The ad sends a slight chill down the spines of lots of folks who go out to the field to take a flight and also is the butt of many more or less witty sallies.  But then the matter is explained it seems reasonable enough.


It seems the airplane is owned by Wilbert W. Haas, 1027 South DesPlaines Street, Forest Park, of the American Vault works.  A branch establishment has been opened at Benton Harbor and Haas has bought his machine and is learning to fly with the intention of making his trips between his shops by air.  And on his airplane he has had painted the following sign:  "American Vault Works.  Wilbert W. Hass, Forest Park, Ill., Benton Harbor, Mich., Maker of Concrete Specialties for Cemeteries."

Who wants to fly with Mr. Haas?

From June 11, 1920:



When well-paved thoroughfares and a street car extension shall have linked Maywood up more closely to Roosevelt Road this village will awaken, to the fact that at its doors are two institutions that already have focused national attention and are destined to assume still greater importance. These are the checkerboard aviation field and the Speedway Reconstruction hospital. This article has to do with the former.

As stated last week it is attracting the adventurous souls of Maywood who want to be among the early birds to catch what worms may be dug out of the cloudbanks. Among the latest of these were Lee Billinger of the Maywood Motor Company and John Barsema who went clear up to 4,000 feet in the, air last Sunday and came down smiling although one of the drops was a thousand feet sheer.

"I've been in the fastest things on land and have enjoyed riding in some easy running automobiles, but for speed and smoothness the airplane has them all faded," said Mr. Billinger. "Speed—oh, baby! Why we went 85 miles an hour!"

"Our pilot did everything with that jigger up there in the sky except looping the loop but there were no bumps or jars. It was great and we're going up-again the first chance we "get."

Best Among Flying Fields

This flying field is now conceded to be the best all-weather station of any around Chicago which means the middle west, and hence it must be the spot around which will center much of the future history of aviation in the United States and Canada.

Its only rivals are the Ashburn and Grant Park fields, the former of which is not suitable for commercial flying, and is under disadvantages in wet weather and the latter is not suitably located being bounded by skyscrapers on one side and the lake on the other.

Both have been definitely abandoned as headquarters for government aviation headquarters by the federal authorities, whereas on other hand the possibilities of the Checkerboard Field are being developed rapidly. Framework for a second great hangar to house the fast growing fleet of government airships has been erected alongside the original hangar on the east side of the field and this new structure will be rushed to completion. Also wide cinder paths to be used as runways from which the monster post office planes can "take off" in wet weather as well as dry have been laid so that there is no trouble or delay in starting off with the mails.


Plan to Extend Service

Meanwhile plans have been made for important extensions of the airplane mail service. For some time three great machines have been leaving and arriving daily one of them to Cleveland, bringing mail relayed to the Ohio city from New York and the other two to 0maha. This Omaha line is destined to be one of the of great importance, as it is expected to extend it station by station across the country to San Francisco, at which point mail from the orient will be tapped, as well as forwarded.

Other lines already projected are to St. Louis, later to be extended south, and Minneapolis, which will be the first branch depot toward the northwest United States and Canada.

To one paying his first visit to the field the arrival or departure of one of the mail airplane is stirring to the imagination.



More from June 11, 1920:


Neal C. Montis, a flying mechanician employed in the government aerial mail service with headquarters at the Checkerboard field, and who roomed at the Misses Warrens' home, 120 South Fifth Avenue, was killed and J. P. Harris, Chicago pilot, was injured when their mail plane went into a nose dive and fell 200 feet at Cleveland last Sunday.

The plane had jut started for Chicago on its regular trip.  W. L. Smith of New York, who had just brought the mail from Bellefonte, Pa., in another machine, was a passenger, and escaped with bruises.

  Montis came to Maywood about three months ago and had boarded at the Warren home, with two other aviation workers, about three weeks.  He was about 25 years of age and very popular on account of this pleasant disposition.  Not much was known of him except that his home to have been in the government aviation service during the war.

Miss Warren turned his effects over to officials of the Checkerboard aviation service.


From July 23, 1920:


The mail airplane that carries mail from Chicago to Cleveland crashed to earth on the takeoff Sunday morning at the speedway injuring the pilot and wrecking the plane.

The take off was from the north west corner of the grounds but the pilot, unable to make the required altitude, struck a row of trees along the eastern boundary of the aviation field and completely wrecked the machine, tearing the wings from the body, breaking the propellers and burying the motors several feet in the ground.



The pilot was endeavoring to leave the field and handmade a fast start in an endeavor to get over the trees and had reached a speed of more than seventy miles per hour. The machine was one of. the big bombing Martins with a spread of eighty feet and equipped, with two twin six motors, one on each side of the body, with a horsepower rating of 800, and a speed rating of 150 miles per hour.

The driver was taken to the Oak Park Hospital where his injuries were dressed and was then taken to his home. The mail was not damaged and was taken from the wrecked plane and started in another for its destination.

The wreck was taken to the hangar where, it will be rebuilt and put in commission again.

From July 30, 1920:



The Checkerboard aviation field which Alfred Decker & Cohn used at the south end of Maywood was taken over by new interests a short time ago and will be used as a selling and erecting station by the Curtiss people.

David L. Behncke, formerly of California and G. E. Meyer of 316 Burkart Court. Forest Park, have purchased the entire equipment and the ground leases.

Airplanes will be bought and all the mechanical work such as assembling, overhauling and erecting will be done here. Hangar space will be rented to private owners of airplanes.




The second airplane was wrecked at the government aviation field within a week when two planes crashed into each other last Saturday,

The huge Martin bomber that had been wrecked the Sunday before had been brought to the hangar and was piled upon the ground in front of the entrance when Johnson, driver of the first wrecked machine, in attempting to make a take-off, failed again to get the proper elevation and crashed into the wrecked plane.

On account of the slow speed he was going he sustained only minor injuries.  The small plane was wrecked.

From August 6, 1920:


Not content with stealing automobiles and riding around on earth, two venturesome thieves got into the hangar of the Checkerboard Field early Sunday morning and stole a Standard plane for a joy ride.

The fellows undoubtedly were well acquainted with airplanes as one climbed into the pilot seat and primed the cylinders and the other spun the propeller and then climbed in with his companion.


At the roar of the motors the attendants of the hangar rushed out sleepy eyed to find the stolen plane high in the air and going at a terrific speed. Four planes were immediately run out of the hangar and chase given but the thieves had such a good start that they were unable to be seen although high powered glasses were used in an endeavor to locate them.

Later in the day the plane was found four miles from the field. It had been stripped of instruments valued at several hundred dollars.



Contract Let Monday For New Structure

Work on the construction of the new bridge between DesPlaines Avenue, Forest Park, and Fifth Avenue, Maywood, on Roosevelt Road will be started within three weeks, according to statements made by the contractor who is very anxious to have the work underway.

The contract was let Monday morning at a meeting of the County Board.  All preliminary work has been finished and nothing remains to be done except for the contractor and for the road commissioners to accept his bond.  The contractor has fifteen days to reject the contract if he so desires.


Commissioner T. J. Lynch closed the old bridge late Tuesday afternoon and it is expected work of dismantling the structure will proceed at once.  He has put First Avenue in good condition and all traffic will be routed north to Madison Street until the new bridge is completed.

The new bridge will be a double span of reinforced concrete and will be a high grade bridge on the same order as the Lake Street, Washing Boulevard and Madison Street bridges.

The contract was let to the only bidder, E. H. Nornberger of Shermerville, whose bid was $29,443.41.  The commissioners assert this a very low price considering the high price of all building materials.

From August 13, 1920:


Charles Nanista, one of the mechanics at the United States Mail aviation field south of Maywood was killed Monday by being hit by the tip of a propeller while making adjustments to the motor. Nanista was testing one of the motors of a new DeHaviland mail planes. He jumped from the fuselage to the ground to get a tool he had dropped and was hit by the revolving propeller.   He was rushed to a doctor immediately but died before the surgeon's office was reached.

Nanista, who was 20 years old and lived at 2722 South Crawford Avenue, Chicago, had been in the air mail service a number of months hut had been to the Maywood field only two weeks.

From August 27, 1920:


David Behncke, one of the owners of the Checkerboard Aviation Field has a young pupil at the field on Roosevelt Road.  Olive Belle Hamon, aged 10, flies regularly.

The future Ruth Law is the daughter of Jake L. Hamon, Republican national committeeman from Oklahoma and president of the Wichita Falls, Ranger & Forth Worth Railroad, and is a fourth cousin to Senator Warren G. Harding, Republican nominee for president.

The young lady finds no parental objection to her flying because her mother, after a mental review of Olive's escapades on terra firma, believes she is just as safe looping with Behncke.


Olive start to fly a year ago on Chaplin Field in Los Angeles, owned by Sid Chaplin, a brother of Charlie's.  Her mother's first intimation of Olive's aerial leanings was when she looped the loop over a steamer on which Mrs. Hamon was riding in San Francisco Bay.

Although Mr. Hamon's residence officially is in Lawton, Oklahoma, the family lives at 4901 Sheridan Road, Chicago.

Olive hasn't yet reached the point where she can pilot an air boat.


From September 3, 1920:


At the government airdrome on Roosevelt Road last Thursday afternoon another of the Martin bomber planes refused to take to the air but instead took a nose dive.   The plane had been trundled out of the hangar preparatory to making the start for Cleveland.  The takeoff was made but instead of ascending it descended nose first, wrecking the plane.  No one was hurt.

From September 10, 1920:


Airplane Makes Stop On Way To California

J. Stevens, air pilot of a government mail plane arrived in Maywood last Thursday afternoon at 3 o'clock from New York in a trans-continental flight to San Francisco.  he left the eastern city early Thursday morning and arrived in Maywood for this first stop, expecting to arrive in California Sunday Morning.

The JL, an all-steel monoplane sold by Larsen is the machine used and has proved the most successful in long distance flying.

Stevens had with him his mascot, the English bull dog which has carried on most of the other flights he has made.


He spent the night at the Hotel Edward and started early Friday morning for Omaha which was the second stop.  From there he went to Cheyenne, Wyoming, thence to San Francisco.

Larsen planes have arrive at the Maywood field in the past and have been noted for the excessive speed they traveled, their regular speed being above 180 miles per hour.  They are made entirely of metal, light in weight and eliminate the danger of fire which has destroyed many other planes.



Another airplane in the government mail service was wrecked last Wednesday at the field south of Maywood.

The big twin twelve that carries the mail between Chicago and the east crashed on the takeoff wrecking the wings and putting the plane out of commission.  The mail was delayed until another carrier could be put in shape.

  This is the second accident to airplanes in the last month, the other being completed wrecked in starting on its trip to Cleveland.  No one was hurt in the accident.


From September 24, 1920:


Erwin S. Amberg, pilot on the air mail plane between Maywood and Omaha broke the record last Saturday when he made the flight which is 440 miles.  His actual flying time was 3 hours and 39 minutes which is the fastest time made between the two cities.

The flight was made in a DeHaviland plane equipped with a Liberty motor.  A stop had to be made at the field at Iowa City, Iowa, as the main gas tank sprung a leak and had to be disconnected.  The last fifteen miles before the stop were made under difficulties as gas has to be pumped into the carburetor by hand.

  Amberg had made the previous record between Chicago and Omaha when he flew the distance in 3 hours and 55 minutes.  In the past fourteen days he has flown 5,280 miles which is another record in the mail service.


From October 1, 1920:


Aerial Mail Service Makes Another Record

Pilot Rowe hung up another record Tuesday afternoon when he broke the record between Omaha mail station arid Maywood mail station. His time for the 440 miles was 3 hours and 20 minutes, thereby clipping nine minutes from the previous record made by Pilot Irwin Amberg last week.

This was a nonstop flight made with a DeHaviland plane with the average flying time of a mile and two-tenths a minute. Weather conditions were the best with a strong wind blowing from the starting point, materially assisting the plane.

  It is expected that these records will be greatly lowered as soon as the Larson Junkers are put in shape for safe flying. At present, it is stated at the field, the pilots refuse to fly Junkers on account of the large number of accidents which are caused by feed pipes breaking or leaking into the cock pits. This will be corrected when the machines are overhauled and the pipes run from the supply tanks to the motors beneath the planes. The fuel used is benzol and several pilots have been burned to death when it became ignited in the pits where it had leaked from the broken pipes.



Made Three Attempts Sunday At Checkerboard Field

Dare Devil Holder, the young man who devoted the last ten years of his life to thrilling crowds by his daredevil acts failed to thrill a throng at the Checkerboard aviation field last Sunday afternoon after making three attempts to drop in a parachute from a airplane belonging to the Sheldon Air Line, of Sheldon, Illinois.

The stunts were to be made for the International News Service Film corporation which were to be used in their pictorial news films.  Several cameras were on the field and another accompanied by an operator was strapped to another plane and accompanied Holder in his flight.

Movies were taken of many stunts in the first flight.  Holder performed perilous acts on the wings and fuselage of the plane preparatory to taking the final act.

  When the attempt was first made the parachute failed to release and a landing was made to make adjustments in the detaining rope.  The second trail was given up on account of the parachute dropping before the required height was reached.  The third attempt was made late in the afternoon and was not finished as the plane carrying the movie machine could not be taken to the right position to get the pictures.  At this flight an altitude of 3,500 feet was reached.

Holder has performed many stunts at the Maywood field during the past week.  Last Thursday he thrilled many people by jumping from one plane to the other while high in the air.


From October 8, 1920:


Dare Devil Holder, the airplane stunt artist, who has thrilled several millions since he started to perform feats of daring, met his Waterloo last Friday at Beaver Falls, Wisconsin when he dropped to his death from an altitude of 5,000 feet.

Be had been performing acts in the plane and as a finale intended to make a parachute drop from a height of a mile. Through faulty adjustment of the releasing ropes the parachute failed to open and Holder dropped at a terrific speed to the ground where he was practically dashed to pieces. Upon striking the ground the body bounced in the air more than six feet so great was the recoil.


Holder was one of the oldest men in the game, he having thrilled crowds for more than ten years as a balloon ascension and parachute dropper before he went into the airplane angle out of which he worked many other thrillers.

He performed over Maywood a week ago jumping from one plane to the other and riding on the wings of the ship. He tried three times the Sunday before his fatal accident to make a parachute drop at the Checkerboard field for the International Film Service for the news weekly but could not get the correct altitude and also the parachute could not be properly adjusted.

From October 15, 1920:


First Official Flight to Twin Cities On

Last Monday Pilot Carrol of the mail air service made the initial trial trip to Minneapolis preparatory to inaugurating an aerial mail service to the twin cities. He used a DeHaviland twenty-four cylindered ship and made the flight in three hours and forty minutes.  

When this service is well underway the time will be reduced to three hours and thirty minutes actual flying time.

From October 22, 1920:


Gasoline Tank Explodes as Plane Strikes Ground

Bryan McMullen, whose home was at Dallas, Texas, a pilot who had joined the aerial mail service a month ago, was burned to death last Saturday morning near Batavia, Illinois, when in attempting to make a landing: his plane struck a telephone wire and crashed to earth bursting into flames.

McMullen was said to be one of the best pilots at the field and had always been a steady, conservative flyer, never attempting fancy spectacular stunts.

McMullen left the Checkerboard Field Saturday morning; at 5:52 o'clock carrying a load of mail for Omaha. At 6:20 o'clock Mrs. George White, wife of a farmer at Bald Mound, near Batavia, saw the plane descending and called her husband.

They were watching the plane glide towards the ground when it struck the wire, flopped over like a giant bird that had been shot, and landed in the field upside down.

Burst Into Flames

Almost immediately it burst into flames, and White and his wife rushed to the rescue of the aviator. The flames were so intense, however, they could not get near enough to aid him and his body, strapped to the seat, was almost entirely burned up. The larger part of the mail cargo was also destroyed.

McMullen had been flying quite low for some miles prior to the accident, showing he either had lost his way in the fog or was having some trouble with his motor.


An Overseas Veteran

McMullen was an overseas veteran. His wife came here a few days ago and then went to Omaha to establish a home, following his assignment to the Chicago-Omaha mail service. E. M. Majors, in charge of the air mail service here, flew to Batavia to investigate the accident and take charge of the body.



From October 29, 1920:


Record Flight From Maywood to St. Louis Gets Record

Pilot Jones of the Maywood station of the aerial mail service has captured another record for the Maywood field. This is the record flight between St. Louis and Maywood, a distance of 275 miles which he covered in two hours and fifteen minutes.    No stop was made in the flight.  

Jones claims the extraordinary fast time was due to a gale of wind blowing from the south which increased his speed almost fifty miles per hour over the of normal times.

From November 12, 1920:


Pilot Rowe Clips 7 Minutes From Flying Time

In a DeHaviland ship with a single motor, Pilot H. H. Rowe of the Omaha-Maywood Aerial Mail Service clipped seven minutes from the flying time last Thursday when he flew the 440 miles in exactly three hours and twelve minutes.

Ever since Rowe has been on this route of the aerial mail he has been gradually reducing the flying time between the two cities and if favorable conditions last he expects to make it in three hours flat which will be slightly faster than 146 miles per hour. Two minutes of the flying time was taken in making a landing as a slight miscalculation carried him five miles out of the course.


The Larsen Junkers are about in condition to be started on the mail service. These machines many of the pilots refused to fly until the fuel oil feed lines were changed to run out side of the cockpit. One ship has boon completely rebuilt and test flights have proven it satisfactory. Several more short flights will be made before it is placed in service.


From November 19, 1920:


All  Steel Planes Rebuilt for Mail Service

The aerial mail service between Maywood and Omaha inaugurated in the service Monday morning all steel Larsen planes which will be used exclusively in the mail service as soon as the required number can be rebuilt and put in commission.

The fault with these planes in the past was in the fuel oil feed pipe lines which run through the fuselage and caused great danger to the pilot and mechanic by flooding the cockpit with inflammable oil.  A number of these planes were destroyed in the past with fatal results to the pilot and his mechanic.


Through the changes effected by major who has charge of the field and chief mechanic Paul Dumas the changes have been perfected and the planes are now as safe as the DeHavilands and the others which have been in the service.

While the4 speed of the new Larsen planes is slower than the ones now in the service their consumption of fuel will be less and the carrying capacity much greater.


From November 26, 1920:


Aerial Mail Service Reduces Time Six Minutes

Flying at an altitude of two miles, Pilot William Hopson, of the aerial mail service, whose home is in Omaha, clipped six minutes from the time of flight from Omaha to Maywood, making the 440 miles in 3:06.

Two miles above the earth a strong wind was blowing from the west that helped the ship hit up the tremendous speed.  Lower than the two miles scarcely a breeze was stirring.

Hopson left Omaha last Friday afternoon at 12:4 and started to ascend as soon as he could get in the clear.  He was flying a DH with a single motor and traveled on an average of more then 140 miles an hour.


The last record was made by Pilot H. H. Rowe, a Maywood man who made the distance in 3:12, six minutes slower than Hopson.  Rowe flew at a comparative low altitude and also had a strong wind pushing him east.

The mail pilot look for better records at this time of the year as there are strong winds higher up that push them on their way.


From December 3, 1920:


High Altitude Faces Dare Devil to Make Landing

Dick Shields, one of the dare devil artists who has been thrilling crowds at the Checkerboard field, came very near finishing his performance last Sunday at noon when on account of the cold he could not climb the rope ladder and regain his position in the plane.

Shields, who was with a pilot from the Sheldon Air Line, in one of its planes was performing hair raising feats for a camera man of a weekly film service, was to drop on the rope, perform his stunts and climb back in the fuselage with the pilot.


The air at the altitude in which the planes were working was too cold and after the work had been finished Shields found his hands and arms too numb to regain his seat.

The pilot made a forced landing with Shields hanging to the ladder. He was dragged along the plowed ground for a distance of nearly, two hundred feet before he could release himself.

Severe bruises of the shoulders were sustained and the face badly skinned. At first it was thought several bones were broken on account of the great force with which he struck the ground.

From December 12, 1920:


Wind From the West Pushes Planes at Great Speed

A strong gale of wind blowing from the west was one of the main factors in the record smashing flight made from Omaha to Maywood Tuesday when 21 minutes were slashed from the previous record which was 3:06. The record now stands at 2:45. The distance traveled by the planes in making the trip is 440 miles.

Mail Relayed by Ships

It was a relay trip and made by two planes, one going from Omaha to Iowa City. Iowa, where tile mail was transferred to another plane which was waiting to make the finish of the journey to Maywood field.

The first pilot to start was D. C. Smith who left the Omaha field and arrived at the Iowa City field with the actual flying time to his credit of 1:33. The distance is 225 miles by air route. D. D. Christensen was waiting at the Iowa City field with a DH all keyed up for the transfer of the mail and a record flight to the end of the trip. He made the 200 miles to Maywood in 1:12 which is almost three miles per minute. The previous record was made several weeks between Omaha and Maywood by Hipson who flew the entire distance in 3:06.


Rowe Gets Another Record

Pilot H. H. Rowe in a LC Junker a big slice from the Iowa City-Maywood Junker time the same day. His actual flying time was 1:35. The Junkers are not as popular with the pilots as the higher powered and larger ships. Claims are made that Junkers have not the engine power for a fast flight although their carrying capacity is greater.

Change in Field Force

Paul Dumas, who has been the chief mechanic at the Maywood field for almost a year has been promoted to manager. His place as chief mechanic will be taken by John Ruden, 13 North Fourth Avenue, Maywood, who formerly was a crew manager.

From January 7, 1921:


Rowe Astonished Resident of Iowa City When Lost in Fog

One of the residents of Iowa City, Iowa, where the mail aviation field is located, was given enough thrills by Pilot H. H. Rowe and his mechanic, to last him the balance of his life.

Rowe was bound for Maywood last Friday morning and after flying about the field at Iowa City where he intended to make a landing and get more fuel.  He had flown through several strips of heavy fog but the weather bureau had sent out the report that the fog was rising and it would be safe to make the trip.

The entire country around Iowa City for a radius of fifteen miles was covered with a dense fog which was so heavy the landing field could not be located.  Three circles of the city were made when Rose found he could make no more elevation and he would have to make a quick landing.


He took a drop from an altitude of one hundred feet and landed in the read yard of one of the homes only a short distance from the field.  The crowd that congregated around the ship said they could hear the roar of the motor two miles away.

Neither the pilot or mechanic was injured.  The Junker had its gear and its fuselage damaged.  It will be shipped to Maywood for rebuilding.


From February 11, 1921:


Mail Ship Gets Out of Control on Chicago-Minneapolis Flight

Two mail pilots, Hiram H. Rowe of the Avenue apartments, Maywood, W. L. Carroll, of Minneapolis, and Flying Mechanic Robert B. Hill, whose home was in Havana, Illinois were incinerated beyond recognition when the plane, in which they were flying to Minneapolis took a nose dive at Lacrosse, Wis., field at 4 o'clock in the afternoon and exploded when it struck the ground. The three in the fuselage were dead before the employees at the field could reach the burning mass of gasoline and steel. The men left Maywood about 9 o'clock in the morning.

Third Accident in Three Years

This is the third fatal accident of planes leaving the Maywood field in the three years since the field was established. The first accident was when Pilot Stoner crashed at New Paris. Ind., almost two years ago, and the second happened to Pilot McMullen at Batavia, Illinois, last fall when he attempted to make a landing in a fog and struck a number of telephone wires. The gas tank in McMullen's plane exploded when the plane struck the ground and his body was almost consumed by the flames.

Cause of Accident Unknown

The cause of the accident on Wednesday is not known. The employees of the service at LaCrosse were watching the ship come in at an altitude of 2,000 feet. It circled the field twice, dropping to 600 feet preparatory to making a landing.
  Suddenly it appeared that the pilot had lost control and the plane tumbled wing over wing to a crash to the ground where it is thought the concussion of the impact of the plane striking the ground caused sparks to ignite the gasoline which produced the explosion. When the field men reached the wrecked plane the three men were burned beyond recognition.

Inspected Ship Before Leaving

When the plane left Maywood it was in first class condition. It had been thoroughly rebuilt and tested and inspected by Mechanic Hill before he started the flight. Before leaving he signed his report stating the ship was in proper shape for the trip.    It is the rule of the mail service that immediately after each plane comes in from a trip it must be thoroughly inspected and rebuilt. Nothings is left to chance but all defects incurred in a previous trip are corrected and all worn parts renewed. It is also tested by flying by the mechanics before it is placed in commission.

From February 18, 1921:


Believes They Should Be Temporarily Abandoned

The board of inquiry suggested the Junker planes of the type through which Pilots H. H. Rowe. W. L. Carroll and Mechanic Robert B. Hill lost their lives should be temporarily withdrawn from the mail service until they are made safer for the operation. These planes are the all-metal, monoplanes that have been the cause of several other accidents in the past.

The evidence secured by the board indicated the accident happened by the pilot in control of the machine, Rowe, losing control by becoming unconscious and falling on the elevator control when the landing was attempted. The witnesses at the LaCrosse, Wisconsin, field testified that the motor was not stalled in the air, but was still running when the ship struck the ground. Unusual attention was thrown on this plane at this field as it was the first time a Junker plane had landed there.


Positive evidence was given that there was no explosion or fire until after the crash. The board of inquiry was composed of Col. John A. Jorden, Maj. William McCord and K. G. Paige.

Rowe Buried Monday

The funeral of Pilot H. H. Rowe was held Monday at the home of his parents at Fort Pierre, S. D. Mrs. Rowe remained in Maywood until Thursday when her mother arrived here from Florida to accompany her to Fort Pierre.

W. L. Carroll was buried at Minneapolis, and Robert B. Hill at Havana, Illinois.


From February 25, 1921:


When Plane Develop Engine Trouble Parachute is Used

Pilot C. C. Eversole of the air mail service, by the aid of a parachute, leaped from a plane at an altitude of 3,000 feet last Friday and escaped without injuries.

When his mail plane developed engine trouble three miles south of Mendota, Minn., last Friday afternoon, Pilot C. C. Eversole leaped to safety in a parachute. He was flying from Minneapolis to Chicago.

  The ship, which was demolished, struck the ground within fifty rods of the spot where Pilot K. M. Stewart fell to death four weeks ago.

Parachute Saved Pilot

The parachute which saved Eversole is of his own invention. When he leaped from the plane, which was a twin DeHaviland, he plunged straight down for a long distance before the parachute opened. Then he floated slowly to the ground, landing within a few feet of the wrecked plane.

From April 22, 1921:


Mail Plane makes Stormy Strip Between St. Louis and Maywood

After fighting a terrific wind with tornado velocity, Mail Pilot Claire K. Vance landed at the Maywood field Saturday afternoon after flying through one of the worst storms that ever visited this part of the country.

He left St. Louis at 11:07 a. m. and arrived in Maywood 3:45 p. m., standard time.

Flies Over Four Hours

The flight took more then four hours when in normal weather it is made in about 2:15.  The weather in St. Louis was slightly windy but it was not thought to be heavy and no heavy winds were encountered until after St. Louis had been left twenty miles behind.  Then a sixty-five mile gale was encountered that almost held the ship stationary.  A speed of more than ninety miles per hour had to be maintained in order to make any headway.

When reaching Maywood field Pilot Vance was so stiff from the cold he had to be lifted from the cockpit.  The plane was entirely covered with ice and sleet collected on the trip.


Brings Mail Safe

A safe landing was made at the Maywood field although a crash was looked for on account of the heavy wind.  The weight of mail carried was over 150 pounds.  A 160 horse-power eight cylinder Curtiss plane was used for the trip.  At no time during the trip could an altitude of more than 400 feet be reached and Vance stated it was the bumpiest journey he had ever taken.  The wind was so strong at time that it almost threw the plane back.

Other Pilot Stay In

No mail planes left the Maywood field Saturday.  An attempt was made to start the St. Louis plane on its flight but after taking the air it had to make a forced landing on account of motor trouble.

From April 29, 1921:


Stones Large As Hens' Eggs Break Holes in Wings of Plane

Pilot Claire K. Vance. of the Maywood-St. Louis aerial mail route encountered a heavy hail storm soon after leaving Maywood last Monday and was compelled to fly back to the Maywood Field for repairs to his plane.

Hail Strikes Pilot

When ten miles south of Maywood and going at a speed of about ninety miles per hour, Pilot Vance suddenly flew in the midst of a terrific hail storm. Hail stones the size of hens' eggs struck the wings and body of the ship in in many instances tore great holes in the fabric. Several of the stones hit the pilot on the head and almost dazed him.

Vance finding it impossible to fight the storm in the ship and the holes in the wing in danger of wrecking the plane was forced to turn and make for the Maywood hanger as best he could. His altitude was about 300 feet when the storm struck him and having no war5ning of the change in the weather he was unable to reach a height that would carry him safely over the clouds.


Mail Ship Leaves at 10:30

The mail plane for St. Louis leaves the local hangar at 10:30 Chicago time which is 9:30 standard time Monday morning the trip was delayed a short time on account of the return of the injured ship with its cargo of mail but workmen started immediately repairing the holes in the wings and it was again sent on its way under the guidance of Pilot C. Eugene Johnson.

All other mail planes left on schedule time and no other pilots reported any bad weather.



From May 6, 1921:


Crack Mail Pilot From The Maywood Field Crashes in Mail Plane When He Attempts to Land in Heavy Fog

J. T. Christensen, crack mail pilot of the Maywood-Cleveland route faced the alternative last Friday -- of crashing his ship into the crowded streets of the business district of Cleveland, Ohio, or diving into the Cuyahoga river. He chose the latter course and was burned to death when his plane crashed into the river bank.

The heavy fog confused Christensen and caused him to lose his bearings. He apparently could not locate the landing field and after making several attempts to find it his motor sputtered and quit. He could see the thickly crowded street below and the river close by. He knew if he should attempt, to land in the street he would kill several people and while he would have a better chance of saving his own life by making the street landing, evidently decided less loss of life would occur if he should dive in the river.


Fog Confuses Pilot

He started the dive to the river but did not have enough altitude to reach the water. There was nothing to do but crash into the river hank. A few feet above the ground the ship nosed up a trifle, but the efforts of the pilot to save himself were futile.


From May 20, 1921:


Assert His Desire For Publicity Caused Him to Make many Untrue Sensational Charges In the Inquiry

The pilots connected with the aerial mail field and the commercial field located south of Maywood have made sweeping denials of the charges mad by "Mike" Eversole, discharged pilot and James W. Alexander, a mechanic at the mail field.

Proof of an efficiency greater than 80 percent was shown for the time since the commencement of the service thirty-one months ago.  This time also cover the winters which have bad considerable unfavorable weather conditions to contend with.

Are Not Forced to Fly

Without an exception the pilots stated emphatically they have never been forced to fly when the weather has made conditions unsafe and the charges by Eversole and Alexander that they were forced to take out ships when they were unsafe is also entirely misstated.  Statements made by Pilots J. O. Webster, Claire Vance, Tex Marshal, Paul Collins, C. Eugene Johnson, William C. Hopson, W. Williams and L. H. Garrison show that in no case have pilots been requested ordered to take chances with faulty planes or unsettled weather and in several instances some of the pilots acknowledged they have been criticized by the management of the field for lying through fogs and wind storms.  At other times the managers of the field have refused to allow them to take the air when they thought there would be danger to the pilot.

From June 3, 1921:


When Trip Across Continent Faces Failure on Account of Crash Mail Service Assist

Nothing but words of praise for the efficiency of the aerial mail service were given by Eddie Rickenbacker in Maywood last Friday afternoon on a short stop on his trans-continental trip from the Pacific Coast to Washington.

In attempting to make a landing at Cheyenne, Wyoming, he had a crash and was unable to use his ship for the balance of the trip. He then called for the assistance of the aerial mail pilots to help him on the continuation of his journey.

  He came to the Maywood field of the aerial mail where a ship had been secured for the balance of the flight.

In speaking of the efficiency of the aerial mail service he stated it was wonderful the condition planes and equipment were kept. Everything was in first class order and the steady flying of the pilots was the best he had ever seen.


August 5, 1921:


River Forest Chief Uses Aeroplane to Watch Men Patrolling Beats

With a mighty whir-r-r, Chief of Police Frank Laatz took the air over River Forest to cover his bailiwick in the most thorough manner. He went to the Checkerboard Field in Maywood and doubled back over River Forest aloft in the shortest space of time.

Chief Laatz says he was not a bit uneasy over the trip, but that while up in the air he noticed no less than a dozen machines speeding through the avenues of his district.

"My fingers just ached to get hold of one or two of those birds," said the chief. "They did not know that my eye was on them. but I found it impossible to read their license plates from the altitude I was flying. My two faithful men looked like 'bugs' crawling along the ground. I will have to do something to make them more distinguished than they are. Lighter uniforms may do it; maybe if I can get the village board to adopt the plan, I will have them placed in silk shirts and white duck trousers."


Each park bench was examined by the chief, from his lofty perch, and the alleys and fence corners were peered into for any infractions of the village code. He claims that he discovered several lost golf balls, and could count last year's birds' nests that were still hanging in the trees and should be removed by one or the other of his faithful officers.

It is not among the impossible things in the life of Chief Laatz for him to recommend the use of a "captive balloon" in ferreting out the lawless ones of the village. And then, too -- it would be a cool place from which to direct his forces during the hours of speeders and spooners.


From August 5, 1921:


Giant Airplane of Bombing Type Will Drop Bills and Tickets in Maywood

A giant airplane of the bombing type will fly over Maywood today and will drop a large number of hand bills announcing the Haynes gala event to be held in Chicago Tuesday. The fliers will also drop a number of tickets entitling the holders to free rides in a huge sea plane over Lake Michigan during the Pageant of Progress Exposition at Chicago.

It is suggested that the people watch for this airplane and anyone lucky enough to obtain one of the tickets should take it to the office of the Standard Auto Repair, 417, Madison street, who will give them a letter to the officials of the Triangle Motors, Incorporated, Haynes Distributors in Chicago, who have arranged for the sea plane rides.

Even though those who fail receive one of these tickets it will pay them to attend the Pageant of Progress Exposition in order to see the first public exhibition of the new 1922 Haynes cars on Chicago's mammoth municipal recreation pier where three and one-half miles of interesting and wonderful exhibits are beckoning hundreds of thousands of visitors.

From August 26, 1921:


Will Have Double Carrying Capacity of Those Now in Use

The aerial mail field located south of the boundary lines of Maywood, will soon receive its share of the six remodeled army airplanes which will carry double the amount of mail carried in the DeHaviland type machines now in use.  The new ships will be immediately placed in service on the aerial mail lines between Maywood and Omaha and Cleveland.  This new type of plane will be used exclusively on the transcontinental air mail route between New York and San Francisco.

The planes will carry 800 pound of mail or 32,000 letters with no additional cost in fuel or pilots.  The ships in use at the present time are heavily loaded when they carry 400 pounds of mail.

  The new machines have been remodeled at a cost of $8,000 each whereby a new plane costs $15,000 each.



Lieutenant I. S. Amberg, former United States Aerial Mail pilot flying from the Maywood field, arrived in Maywood last Saturday afternoon in an army ship. He was enroute to Dayton, Ohio, where the wings of the plane will be rebuilt.

Amberg is now in the army service giving demonstrations of flying at Camp Grant. He left on the last lap of his trip Sunday afternoon.

From September 9, 1921:


David L. Behncke Victor in Fifty Mile Race at Ashburn Field Monday

David L. Behnke, of Forest Park, owner of the Checkerboard Aviation field located on the southern boundary of Maywood, a veteran of the United States Aerial Service, on Monday won the first air derby to be held in Chicago in the past ten years.

More than 5,000 people crowded over Ashburn field at the start of the event..  At each of the other fields the pilots saw great crowds of people watching the contest.

Only One Slight Accident

But one accident marred the contest.  The ship flown by Bert Blair of the Checkerboard field, met with a slight mishap when the pilot attempted to touch the wheels of the undercarriage on the Dempster Street field.  The field was muddy, the wheels settled and the plan then went over on his back.  Blair was injured and the ship was only slightly damaged.

Dan Kiser, a pilot from Burmeister field, took second place in the race and Price Hollingsworth, who has headquarters at the Lincoln Tavern field, was the third to finish.


Stage by Aero Club

The race, which was staged by the Aero Club of Illinois, was flown over a fifty mile course.  The racers took off from Ashburn field at 1 o'clock.  Each entrant touched the wheels of his ship on the Checkerboard, the Lincoln Tavern, the Peterson Avenue fields and then on the return route dropped again and touched Checkerboard field before landing at Ashburn.

Charles Dickinson, America's oldest living pilot and president of the Aero Club of Illinois, took fifth place in the race, finishing but two minutes after Behnke.  Mr. Dickinson is well over 60 years old.

The race was staged by the aviators of Chicago to demonstrate the utility and safety of an airplane.

From September 30, 1921:


Ethel Dare Dropped From Cloud Sunday Afternoon

A second air exhibition was held Sunday afternoon at Checkerboard field south of Maywood. The Sunday before fully 5,000 people, were present when Ethel Dare made her leap from the Canadian Curtiss machine from 2,500 feet in the air.

David L. Behncke, one of the most trustworthy pilots, was at the wheel when Miss Dare cut loose and made the drop last Sunday.


Roosevelt Road is one of the best cement roads loading into the open country surrounding Chicago. Motorists make the drive over this road and time their drive in such manner as to be at or near the Checkerboard Field during the aerial display.

The schedule for Sunday, set the time for the parachute act between 3 and 3:30 p. m., and prior to this main feature, commercial machines were at the service of the public for any person who wanted to take a fifteen minutes spin in the air, away from the motorcycle cops, who have nothing to say about the speed regulations through the clouds.

From October 7, 1921:


C. A. Porker, who for the past eight months has been superintendent of the Omaha-Cleveland division of the air mail service with headquarters at Maywood field, resigned last Saturday and turned command of his department over to Randolph Paige.


Parker will take charge of the mechanical department of the Aerial Transportation company which will commence operation in Chicago next spring. Mr. Parker will go to New York City in the near future where he will spend some time in the interests of air navigation. later returning to Chicago in time to prepare the ships for the spring opening of the aerial transportation.



Daily Passenger Service From Division Street and Fair Oaks Avenue

Fair Oaks Flying Field was opened last Saturday morning. Passengers will be taken up daily except Sunday. The enterprise was launched by W. F. Peterson. and M. Chapell, who have a new Curtiss machine that will carry one passenger and the pilot. The field was obtained from George R. Hemingway and is located at Fair Oaks Avenue arid Division Street, Oak Park.  

Nelson Kelly, for five years an army flyer, and recently with the Checkerboard Field, is the pilot. The management will engage only in commercial flying for passengers and there will be no stunts or shows of any kind. The service is intended to be as safe as that from France to England, which has carried hundreds of passengers this summer.

  There are paved streets directly to the field and motor cars can be driven within a few feet of the flying machines so that passengers will not have to walk very far to get in the air.


From December 30, 1921:


$35,000 Blaze At Aerial Mail Field Destroys Building And Five New Aeroplanes With Many Accessories

Fire destroyed $35,000 worth of property at the aerial mail field located south of Roosevelt Road and east of First Avenue at noon Christmas day.  Five ships were consumed and one hangar destroyed by the flames.  According to statements of the manager, P. F. Collier, the value of the planes and accessories amounted to $25,000 and the hangar $10,000.

How the fire started is not actually known, but is believed to have been started by an overheated steam boiler used to heat the building.  No one was present but the watchman who a short time before the discovery of the blaze had started a fire under the boiler to heat the place.

When he returned at 11:55 o'clock after making an inspection of the other buildings he discovered the entire structure, which is a wooden one, in flames.  Calls for fire fighting equipment were sent to Maywood, Forest park and Oak Park who immediately responded.  As no hope was had of saving the burning hangar all efforts were used to keep the other buildings from burning.

The aerial mail field gets its supply of water from Maywood and has only an inch and a half pipe from water main at First Avenue and Roosevelt Road.  Lines of hose were laid from the hydrant located at the corner to the field, a distance of more than one thousand feet and the Forest Park engine truck which is equipped with a pump used to pump the water.  Only two streams were available.  All departments were somewhat handicapped due to the fact that the sanitary district cut off the current at the Maywood plant soon after the alarm was turned in and did not turn it on again several hours later.  According to statements of sanitary district officials the current was shut off due to a misunderstanding.  Someone had telephoned to main plant that a big fire was raging and the district lines were in danger and the sanitary district should cut off its current. Later it was found that the feed lines of the district come out of Maywood along Madison Street and at no time was there any danger of them being destroyed as no high voltage wires have as yet been strung to the new disposal plant located near the mail field.  

When the current was shut off at the Maywood pumping station the gasoline motor was immediately started up and by that method a pressure of forty pounds was maintained.

The fire was one of the most spectacular ever seen in this district.  Each of the five planes in the burning building had the tanks full of gasoline, watch tank holding 100 galloons.  As the flames reached a plane the tank would explode throwing the burning gasoline clear of the building and creating dense clouds of smoke.

Superintendent Richard of the mail field state that he believe the fire was started by spontaneous combustion from the heating plant and that no one believed it was of incendiary origin.  A complete investigation is now under way.


From June 23, 1922:


Miss Mary Lipolski, 2253 South Albany Avenue, Chicago, took a trip up in the clouds with Bert Blair of the Checkerboard Field Sunday morning at 5 o'clock and heard for the first time in eighteen years.  Miss Lipolski is twenty years old and "hearing things" proved to be quite a novelty.  This is only one of the many cases on record where the deaf are made to hear by taking trips in airplanes.  The rarified atmosphere is said to turn the trick.

From June 30, 1922:


David Behnke Will Challenge Winner Of Speed Races To Determine Championship Of District

A flying show will be held Sunday at the Checkerboard flying field, First Avenue and Roosevelt Road, under the auspices of the Forest Park post of the American Legion.  It was planned to hold the show last Sunday but on account of weather conditions it was postponed for one week.

The show will undoubtedly, by its magnitude, attract the attention of flying fans from all over the country.  It is billed as the "Over the Top Flying Meet", with David Behnke and Bert Flair of the Checkerboard field acting as masters of ceremonies.  The net proceeds will go to the Forest Park post of the American Legion.


Every stunt known to flying will be exhibited and it is expected that it will be the best meet of its kind ever held on any American flying field.  The program will include Gorden Holder, who will jump from one plane to another while flying at high speed through the air, Chick Wheeler in a rube parachute act.

Captain Street, who will jump from a plane and will drop 1,500 feet before he allows his parachute to open.

Shorty Schweder, holder of the world's highest altitude record, will tell how it feels to ascend seven miles and how it feels to fall five miles in almost as many seconds.

Ethel Dare, a favorite with flying fans, will compete in parachute descents.

From July 21, 1922:


Past year in Aerial Mail Service Passes Without Fatal Accident

The aerial mail service of the post-office department, the central headquarters of which are located at First Avenue and Roosevelt Road, Maywood, on Saturday completed one year's daily service without a single fatal accident.  During this time the planes flying on the New York-San Francisco route covered more than 1,750,000 miles.  More than 49,000,000 letters, totaling 1,224,500 pounds, were transported by the aerial mail service.

According to statements by the department heads, the record of the air mail service for the last year prove more conclusively than any other tests ever made, the reliability and efficiency of the airplanes in commercial service.

Through every kind of weather, summer storms and winter snows, over mountains, deserts and forests, the post-office department air mail planes flew with the regularity of clock work.

Although routes totaling 820 miles were discontinued during the last fiscal year and only the transcontinental route of 2,680 miles maintained, the air mail service, nevertheless, carried the same amount of mail as it did last year, or 23 per cent more in each airplane load.


Officials of the air service attribute the record of no fatal accidents in a year to the fact that all their pilots are now experienced and tried and they know the route.  That the pilots of the mail airplanes of the postoffice department are topnotch and known as the best pilots in the world, was established at a recent midwestern flying meet held at Monmouth two weeks ago.



To Carry Mail Should Strike Interfere With Railroad Transportation

Statements were made on Monday of this week by Rudolph Brauer, superintendent of the air mail service in this district, after he had consulted with David Behncke, owner of the Checkerboard Field, First Avenue and Roosevelt Road, Maywood, and other air service operating companies, that the government is planning to use airplanes to transport the greatest percentage of the United States mail should the railway strike interfere with the transportation of mail trains.

"No exigency as yet makes necessary the use of additional planes," declared the superintendent, "but the department should be prepared to maintain its service in the face of any condition."

From August 2, 1922


Many contest Last Sunday Afternoon Before Great Crowd at Checkerboard

The Checkerboard airplane field was a hive of activity last Sunday afternoon when the first derby was held.  Legion men, members of the Forest Park post, who were giving the event, swarmed over the field in bunches.  David Behnke, owner of the field, and his assistant Bert Blair were the masters of ceremonies and made and completed all the arrangements for the events which were witnessed by a large crowd.

Both Behnke and Blair are expert pilots and did dare devil stunts and aerial capers.

This was the first event of its kind ever attempted in this vicinity and the committee in charge from the Forest Park post of the American Legion co-operated with Behnke and his assistant to produce a program of thrills.


Gorden Holder, nationally known for his daring, staged his new aerial act "The Ill fated Observation Balloon".  Holder was observer in the balloon and David Behnke, piloting a fast plane threw a projectile that blew the balloon to pieces.  Holder saved himself by the use of a small parachute.  As a thriller he later discarded the parachute and landed with the aid of a parachute the size of a large umbrella.

Other aerial performers including Chick Wheeler in a one act aerial comedy, and Ben Grew dropped one thousand feet before he opened his parachute.

Major Schroeder, one-time holder of the world's altitude flying record, told the people how it felt to be flying seven miles above the earth's surface.  Ethel dare, the aerial artist, furnished the completing thrills to the crowd when she jumped form the wing of one plane to the wing of another.

From August 4, 1922:


Maywood Dentist First Person in Village To Buy Airplane for Pleasure Trips

After driving an automobile for many years, Dr. H. C. Billig, who has offices in the Maywood Trust and Savings Bank building, has bought an airplane to be used for pleasure driving.  He is now taking lessons from an experienced pilot and expects soon to be ready to take off himself and fly alone.

  The ship, whish is a Curtiss, has a speed of more than one hundred miles an hour.  It was bought by Dr. Billig several weeks ago and was shipped to the Checkerboard Field where it was assembled and tested.

The doctor will use the plan exclusively for pleasure and is contemplating taking a number of long trips as soon as he is able to handle the machine.


From August 11, 1922:


Thrilling Events Scheduled by Noted Pilots at Checkerboard Field on Roosevelt Road

The largest congress of record holding and nationally known aviators and aerial dare-devil performers were brought together at one time will be at the Checkerboard Field Sunday afternoon.  Some of the pilot who have stated they will be present and compete in the events are:

E. Hamilton Lee, star air mail pilot, holder of the Chicago to Washington flight record of 6 hours.

J. Nelson Kelly, famous Kelly field stunt flier.

Major Schroeder, one time hold of the world's altitude record.

Shirley Short, known as America's most daring stunt flier who flew for Locklear.

Ben Grew will perform the most daring feast known to the flying world, it is claimed, when he will jump from a plane and drop a thousand feet before he opens the parachute.  He will carry the parachute on his back and will open it after he has dropped the thousand feet.


Chic Wheeler, Chicago stunt flier, will demonstrate how the pilot of the modern battle plane escapes death after this plane has been disabled in combat.

Bert Blair, will be one of the entrants in the race as will also be John Schroeder, who was winner of the American Legion Derby.  Other pilots who will endeavor to win new laurels are Tony Yackey, the famous Italian flier will fly his Berguet bombing plane, and David Behncke, manager of the field, who is one of the oldest pilots in the business.

Gorden Holder, who has thrilled people at the local field many times in the past, when he has jumped from one plane to another in the air and done other stunts, will jump from an exploding balloon.

This meet is intended by the promoters to bring together the aerial celebrities from all over the country where they will compete in the events which are being arranged.

From August 18, 1922:


Was Attended by Large Crowd at Checkerboard Field On Sunday Afternoon and Evening

The first aerial revue was held at the Checkerboard Field Sunday afternoon and evening.  It was attended by a crowd of more than five thousand persons.  The revue consisted of aerial races, stunts and dare devil acts.  There were eight numbers on the program which was carried out according to schedule, with a few exceptions.

The first action on the program was a long drop parachute drop by Ben Grew.  he was carried to a height of more than a thousand feet and jumped from the wing of the speeding airplane, landing with the aid of a small parachute.  His act followed by a race of twenty miles between six planes.  At times so close were the planes to the ground the set faces of the pilots could easily be seen by people in the crowd.  The race was won by John Schroeder.


Aerial stunt flying by several pilots was next on the program.  At 4 o'clock Chick Wheeler, who in the past has thrilled the crowds at the Checkerboard field, again gave a demonstration of wing walking and rope ladder and trapeze performing.  He also attempted to escape from a balloon which was to have been destroyed in the air by one of the battle planes.  The act was not completed as the balloon did not go to the required height.

During the afternoon and evening a dance was given in the airdome on the banks of the DesPlaines River.


From August 26, 1922:


Annual Event Held Yearly at Palatine Will Be Brought to Maywood

Again Maywood, on account of her superb location, transportation facilities and other desirable features, has been selected as the location for an established enterprise.

The great annual Chicago-Cook County Fair will be held at the Checkerboard Flying Field, Roosevelt Road and First Avenue, August 27 to September 4, inclusive.  For many years this country fair has been held at Palatine but on account of the better location of Maywood, the greater opportunity it gives more people to attend this location, was selected.

This fair is considered the greatest county fair in the world where the city and country meet.  It will be filled with agricultural, educational, recreational, industrial and commercial exhibits and it is believed the attendance will amount to the hundreds of thousands during the days it will be open to the public.


The splendid showing made by the Cook country fair held last year when it had 30,000 square feet of exhibit displays, and the heavy attendance which on one day reached a total of 26,000, the great volume of business enjoyed by the exhibitors who participated has assured the continuance of the fair from year to year.  Realizing the need for a more central and convenient location, a survey of the country was begun to determine a place that would meet transportation requirements from all parts of the county and also from Chicago.  It was also essential that the location have the necessary acreage and topographical requirements and that it must have a name which the public was familiar.

The Checkerboard aviation field, with its three hundred acres, it name known throughout not only the section but the entire United States and Canada was finally decided upon for the new location.

From September 15, 1922:


Government Will Move from Checkerboard Aviation Field to New Location on Hospital Grounds

The Aeroplane Mail Service will soon discontinue the use of the Checkerboard aviation field and will in the future use the new grounds which are located east of the government hospital.  Already new buildings are under construction and the Illinois Central has installed a switch track to furnish the material for the buildings.

In addition to furnishing the building material the switch track has been in service almost continuously for the purpose of carrying train loads of cinders which will be spread over the landing field to make the ground hard and compact so the planes can make a safe landing.

In the new buildings all the work of the mail service will be performed.  New planes will be built and other shops overhauled and kept in shape.

(This article refers to the airfields shown in the map found on webpage Checkerboard Air Field_expanded version.

Note Checkerboard Field [to the east/right] and the new air mail file nearer the Veterans' Hospital [to the left/west of First Avenue].)

From January 12, 1923:

$200,000.00 BLAZE

Chemical Explosion Causes Fire Which Destroys Hangar, Airplanes and Machinery

Despite combined efforts of the Maywood, Oak Park and Forest Park fire departments, fire which was started by the explosion of a barrel of chemical used to coat airplane wings, destroyed a government hangar, six airplanes, tools and machinery and other equipment totaling $200,000, at the United States Aerial mail Field, First Avenue and Roosevelt Road.  The fire started at 2 o'clock Saturday afternoon and alarms were immediately turned in to the surrounding village.

Although thousands of gallons of water were poured on the burning structure it was impossible to subdue the flames.  After it was seen nothing could be done to save the building, effort of the three companies were centered on saving adjoining buildings and keeping the flames from a large supply of high test gasoline.

  The explosion took place just after 2 o'clock Saturday afternoon and within a few minutes the whole of the hangar, a two story structure of wood and steel, was a mass of flames.  In the hangar was a large amount of machinery used for airplane manufacture and valued at $60,000; six government airplanes awaiting removal, valued at $50,000, a quantity of supplies to be value of $50,000, all of which was destroyed.  The value of the building, it was claimed is around $40,000.


From August 20, 1924:


Mail Reaches West Coast in Twenty-Four Hours and New York Eight Hours From Maywood

The public is just beginning to wake up to the possibilities of air mail but it is hard to realize that this service has passed the experimental stage and is settling down, to a daily routine with the pilots covering the distance between New York and Maywood in eight hours and delivering mail at San Francisco twenty-four hours from the time they hop off at the local field.

Mail for the West should be deposited in the Maywood post office about noon as the plane leaves at 6:30 o'clock in the evening, arriving in Omaha at midnight, at Cheyenne, Wyoming at 5:10 o'clock the next morning, at Salt Lake City at 11:05; Reno, Nevada at 3:30 and San Francisco at 5:45, completing the distance in twenty-four hours and forty-five minutes.

From all points as far west as Cheyenne the postage is eight cents.  For any point west of Cheyenne and as far as San Francisco the rate is sixteen cents an ounce.  Airplane mail from new York costs eight cents an ounce and may be mailed on the last mail in the afternoon.  It will leave Maywood at 7:35 o'clock the next morning, arriving in Cleveland at 12:20 and in New York at 3:00 in the afternoon of the same day.  Air mail stamps are provided by any stamp may be used if the letter is marked "By Air Mail".  Parcels as heavy as fifty pounds also are carried.


After more than a year's preparation the aerial mail service, which has its field and hangers south of Maywood at First Avenue and Roosevelt Road, began the night carrying of mail last month when planes from the west and east arrived at the Maywood field and the mail was transferred to other planes which would carry it from one coast to another.  There is now established a continuous service from the Atlantic to the Pacific in addition to the regular service which was suspended while the airplanes here assembled at the various fields ready for the inauguration of the new service.

Leaving New York at ten o'clock in the morning, the westbound plane meets the gathering darkness just west of Maywood and travels in the darkness all the night, guided by a lighted airway of powerful beacons to Cheyenne, Wyoming, where the early morning sun greets and lights the way to San Francisco and the Pacific coast.


From August 22, 1924:


Is Threat of Farmer for Passing Over His Farm, Is Statement by Pilot and Mechanic

How far up does a man own the sky was the cause of an argument between Carl Oakes, pilot of an airplane, 2841 West Thirty-ninth Place, Edward LaPorte, mechanic, 716 Berry Place, Chicago, and John Oetting, a farmer on the River Road just north of Maywood.  It took the police of Maywood, Melrose Park and the deputies from the sheriff's office to settle the argument and protect the pilot and mechanic.

According to the report furnished by the sheriff's deputies, the pilot and mechanic returned the field on the east side of the road south of North Avenue and east of the River Road as a landing field, put in an airplane and signs soliciting business at five dollars a ride.  Oetting became incensed on account of the plane being flown over this farm and, according to the statements of the pilot and mechanic, threatened to shoot them if they flew over his property.


A call to the Maywood police was turned over to the highway department of the sheriff's office and deputies dispatched at once to the field.  At the same time Oetting telephoned to the Melrose Park police department for and officer, his farm being located in that village, of which he is a special police officer.  Max Arndt, a special officer of Melrose park arrive soon after the men from the sheriff's office.

According to the deputy sheriff's statement, Arndt began to interrupt him when he had charge of the situation and he ordered him off the field with the threat that he would be locked up unless he kept quiet.  The argument between Oetting, the pilot and mechanic was settled, they finally shaking hands, each agreeing not to molest the other.

From October 24, 1924:


David Behncke Sells Checkerboard Field to A. W. Yackey, Who Will Conduct Commercial Field

A. W. Yackey has purchased the Checkerboard Flying Field from David H. Behncke and will continue to operate it as a commercial field giving exhibitions and conducting a service of airplanes for hire.  Mr. Behncke, who has managed the field since it was organized will retire for the present, on account of health.  He will go north on a vacation and is undecided as to whether he will remain in the flying business or not.

A. W. Yackey, who is taking over Checkerboard, conducts a flying machine factory at 818 DesPlaines Avenue, Forest Park.  he also owns the Chicago Airport on Sixty-third Street.  All of his activities will now center in Forest Park and Checkerboard Field will be his main starting point.

  In connection with this field he expects to establish a passenger service twice a week to St. Louis and to Detroit with five-passenger planes how being completed.  With this plane the fare to either city will be $30 each for a party of five, which is bringing airplane transportation close to the price of railway travel.

Under the Yackey management there will be an opening of the field with an entertainment program on Sunday, October 26.  There will be a program of stunts, bargain prices for those who want to ride, and free tickets tossed from the skies for the benefit of anyone who is able to find them.  A free bus service will be maintained from DesPlaines Avenue station of the Metropolitan "L" on Sundays.

Hans Holt, the Yackey flyer, came back from the races at Wichita with prizes for second place in two of the races.

From June 12, 1925:


Two Donated for Prizes at Picnic Were Used By Famous Pilot in

World War -- Only Four Left

Oh!  Skinnay coming to the picnic?  (I'll say so, Shorty, pop corn, peanuts n' everything).

Henry Kramer, president of the Maywood Chamber of Commerce received the following letter from the Yackey Air Craft Company.

* * *

June 6th 1925

Maywood Chamber of Commerce, Maywood, Illinois


>Confirming our conversation of this date with Mr. Bossy we are donating one airplane ride and two airplane propellers.  These propellers were used in Stout, Spad Planes in Captain Eddie Rickenbacker's squadron in the late world war.  Kindly use these prizes in your athletics events.  We will make delivery to the winners at our field and factory upon presentation of a letter from the prize committee.

Yours very Truly,

Yackey Air-Craft Co.

W. A. Yackey

* * *

From October 7, 1927:


Friend of Maywood and Aviation Takes Last Ride as He Tests Derby Plane Tuesday Evening

The "zoom" of airplanes over Maywood, as daring aviators stunt and loop-the-loop, will not mean so much to Maywood citizens in the future since Wilfred A. Yackey, Jr., familiarly known to all his friends as "Tony", ace among wartime aviators and Maywood's best-known aviators and high among airplane manufacturers, fell to this death at the southern outskirts of the village at 4:30 o'clock on Tuesday evening of this week.

Within a few moments of the time a wing broke and fell from Yackey's silver bird, a monoplane of his own construction at a height of about 500 feet and its designer, the man who was award the Croix de Guerre by the French government for his work over the enemy lines in the strenuous wartime days, was dashed to the earth, there to be mangled and charred, the whisper-like the rustling of a cold wind-swept through the town, "Tony Yackey was killed."


Citizens of the village, especially in the south section of the town, where the aviator made his home and where the lean, lanky man with swarthy face and long stride, was a familiar figure, frankly hung their heads and wept as they discussed the tragedy in hushed tones and remembered some little deed of kindness that "Tony" Yackey had done for them in his bluff, hearty way, and then would dismiss it as nothing.

Yackey's gameness, his love for flying, his thoughtfulness of the other fellow, his friendship for Colonel Charles A. Lindbergh, trans-Atlantic flyer, his oft-repeated statement, which sometimes acted as a gentle rebuke to fretful Americans, "I am an American by choice," were all remembered.

From August 8, 1928:


Daredevils Stage Aerial Derby and Double Parachute Drop at Checkerboard Field Sunday

An air derby which had as its particular feature a spectacular double parachute drop from an airplane was held at Checkerboard Flying Field, First Avenue, Sunday, under the direction of the First Tank Corps, No. 245, of the American Legion.

Dick Crulkshank, made the double parachute drop, falling five hundred feet with the first parachute, then discarding its and taking his chances that the second parachute would open and carry him safely to the ground.  His drop held the crowd breathless until the opening of the second parachute was assured and he landed safely.

Miss Ethel Dare also made a parachute drop.  Jack Cope, another air performer, was on the program.  He walked the wings, skipped the rope, climbed a rope ladder and otherwise showed his ability to perform on a speeding plane.

There was dancing in the airplane hangers all afternoon and evening.  The proceeds will be used for service work in the post.

Last Modified:  02/09/2003