Friday, September 5, 2014

Hoosiers in Art-Aviators

Hoosiers have contributed to aviation in America from the beginnings of powered flight. Although Orville (1871-1948) was a native Ohioan, his older brother Wilbur Wright (1867-1912) was born in Indiana, in the Henry County village of Millville. The Wright Brothers have been commemorated on many postage stamps. Here's one from Romania.

And another from Ivory Coast.

Octave Chanute (1832-1910) corresponded with the Wright Brothers and encouraged them in their efforts.  Born in France and a resident of Chicago, Chanute conducted tests of gliders at Miller Beach, Indiana, in the 1890s. The portrait here is by Milton Caniff, famed cartoonist on Terry and the Pirates and Steve Canyon.

World War I ace Eddie Rickenbacker (1890-1973) was, like Orville Wright, born in Ohio, but from 1927 to 1945, he owned the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. This image is from a series of trading cards called "Sky Birds," from 1933-1934, as are the following five images.


Amelia Earhart (1897-1937?) was born in Atchison, Kansas. In 1935, she joined the faculty of Purdue University as a counselor and adviser. The Purdue Research Foundation paid for the Lockheed Electra in which she was flying when she disappeared over the South Pacific in 1937.


In the category of "Almost a Hoosier" comes Major (later Colonel) Reed Landis (1896-1975), son of Kenesaw Mountain Landis (1866-1944), a commissioner of baseball and federal judge who lived in Indiana and practiced law there as a young man. Reed Landis was born in Ottawa, Illinois, and served in the United States Signal Corps during World War I.


Francis "Gabby" Gabreski (1919-2002), the leading American ace of World War II, was born in Pennsylvania, but matriculated at the University of Notre Dame, where he became interested in aviation. The art is once again by Ohioan Milton Caniff.

Unlike his contemporary, Gabby Gabreski, Tom Harmon (1919-1990) was born in Indiana (in Rensselaer) and attended school out of state. He won the Heisman Trophy at the University of Michigan. In 1942, he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps and served in China. Harmon was awarded the Purple Heart and the Silver Star. The image here is from his NFL rookie card from 1941. 

Captions copyright 2014 Terence E. Hanley

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