Clubs and Organisations

Chet was a “joiner;” his memberships and activities in organisations–to say nothing of his business ventures–would fill several websites. Nevertheless, Chet made the most of the organisations he was a part of, using them for both purely social purposes and to advance the cause of aviation.  Three of those clubs get separate treatment:

Here we look at some of the other organisations he was a part of.

National Aeronautic Association (N.A.A.)

The National Aeronautic Association was founded in 1922 as a successor to the Aero Club of America, which in turn had come out of the Automobile Club of America. This illustrates a point that should be obvious to anyone visiting this site: the automobile and the aeroplane have more common roots than just the wind tunnel testing they do these days. It was the premier organisation for flying at the time, and Chet was a member for most of his adult life. The N.A.A. had local chapters as well; in Washington, this was the Aero Club of Washington.

The main role the N.A.A. played for Chet was to sanction the air derbies he organised in the nation’s capital. That they generally did. The one time Chet fell out with them was during the 1933 Langley Day competition, when the N.A.A. at the last minute refused to sanction two of the events he had planned, and asked Chet to call them off, which he did not. Chet wasn’t the only one to have a falling out with the N.A.A.; at the same time Amelia Earhart, the N.A.A.’s Vice President, resigned for her own reasons.

Following the debacle over the 1933 Langley Day, the N.A.A. designated a committee to study the licensing of sportsman vs. competition pilots. Chet was on the committee, along with Senator Hiram Bingham, N.A.A. President, William P. MacCracken, Jr., N.A.A. Contest Committee chairman, Henry DuPont and Lawrence Sharpless. (MacCracken had been Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Aeronautics in 1926.) They recommended that the licensing of sportman and competition pilots be split, the N.A.A. creating a new license for the former and the latter being required to hold a certificate from the Federation Aeronautique Internationale, the N.A.A.’s parent organisation. This division of licensing recognised that, as aviation developed, the two groups were becoming distinct, a fact further recognised by the founding of the Sportman Pilots Association two years later.

United States Amateur Air Pilots Association

In 1933 Chet was local governor for this organisation. One of its activities was to qualify contestants for the National Air Pageant, held that year at Roosevelt Field, NY, 7-8 October. (This was the same airport Charles Lindbergh had taken off from in his transatlantic crossing six years earlier.)

Florida Year-Round Clubs

This organisation, head-quartered at the Miami Biltmore Country Club, sponsored some of Chet’s favourite trips: the Winter Air Cruise to Florida, normally held in January. This was held in conjunction with the Miami All-American Air Races. An example of this took place in January 1933. The itinerary was as follows:

  • 3 January 1933: 0900 Cruise begins at Hicksville, NY, arrives at College Park 1130. Chet hosts a luncheon and joins the cruise with Myrtle in his Stinson. Navy and Marine planes do a demonstration before they leave at 1500 and arrive at Richmond, VA at 1600.
  • 4 January: Leaving Richmond at 0830, they arrive in Greensboro, NC at 1030, leaving an hour later and arriving at Augusta, GA at 1330. After another hour stopver, they leave to arrive at Jacksonville, FL at 1630.
  • 5 January: They leave Jacksonville at 0900, arriving at Daytona Beach at 1030. At 1330 the Florida Year-Round race takes place between Daytona Beach and Miami. The planes travel to Miami, passing the Biltmore Hotel and landing at Miami Municipal Airport (the same place where Amelia Earhart took off on her last flight.) For this year Heron Crossman won the $1000 prize.
  • 6-7 January: The cruisers take in the Miami All-American Air Races.

Tony Little and his Monocoupe, which was to be successful at Langley Day, also participated in this race as well.

Chet made

Other Clubs

Chet was also a member of the following organisations:

  • Pylon Club, Norristown, PA.
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