Greetings from The Aero Experience Team


The Aero Experience is a celebration of Midwest aviation and aerospace achievement. We invite you to join us as we explore the treasures of Midwest aviation through first-hand experiences. Our contributors take turns flying lead, and we are always looking for new destinations. Check in with The Aero Experience frequently to see where we will land today, and then go out and have your own aero experiences!

Blue skies,

Carmelo Turdo, Mark Nankivil and Fred Harl - The Aero Experience Team

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Benoist Aircraft and Centennial of Naval Aviation Presented at MO Aviation Historical Society Meeting

By Carmelo Turdo
Members of the Missouri Aviation Historical Society, a  group of St. Louis area aviation history scholars and enthusiasts, meet monthly to discuss topics of interest and assist each other in producing papers and books.  Many members of the Society are also members of other organizations, and many networking opportunities are available during each meeting.  The March meeting  featured member presentations on two unique topics: Benoist Aircraft and the Centennial of Naval Aviation.

Dr. Fred Roos, engineering professor at Washington University in St. Louis and well-regarded aviation historian, presented the meteoric rise and fall of the Benoist Aircraft Company in the St. Louis area.  From 1911-1917, Thomas Benoist produced increasingly advanced aircraft, including seaplanes, in his factory near Kinloch Field in what is now St. Louis County.  Inspired by the 1910 aviation meet, Benoist started the first aeronautical supply company, and began building Curtiss aircraft as his first product. 

Benoist Type XIV used in the first scheduled airline service
In the successive years, the Benoist factory built more advanced aircraft, the Type XIV being used on the first regularly scheduled airline service between Tampa and St. Petersburg Florida, January through March of 1914.  The Type XV was a twin-engined flying boat, with a wingspan of 65 feet, that was made in the St. Louis Car Company plant in downtown St. Louis.  

The Benoist factory was moved to Sandusky, Ohio in 1917 to be near the Roberts Engine factory. Thomas Benoist was killed in 1917 as he exited a street car, putting an end to the further development of the Benoist line of seaplanes.  Dr. Fred Roos commented, "If Benoist would not have met an early death, we may be flying on Benoist aircraft to this day."

Following Dr. Roos, Rich Dann, Captain, U.S. Navy Reserve, discussed the Centennial of Naval Aviation Heritage Paint Project.  27 aircraft were painted in vintage paint schemes in celebration of 100 years of naval aviation, with five of those aircraft painted in Perryville, MO by Sabreliner.  Captain Dann was responsible for developing the paint schemes and coordinating the Centennial of Flight program during 2 years of active duty from 2009-2011.  For photos of the aircraft, please visit the Centennial of Naval Aviation web site at

Visitors are welcome to the monthly meetings of the Missouri Aviation Historical Society.  Please check again soon for the announcement of the April meeting.

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