Aero Club of Louisville

Historical Marker #2252 in Jefferson County commemorates the Aero Club of Louisville, the oldest continuously operating Aero Club in the United States.

On October 26, 1922, eighteen men met in the offices of Mayor Huston Quinn to form the Aero Club of Louisville. During the next several years, the club sponsored several flying exhibitions in connection with the local Reserve Air Corps Squadron and the Army Air Corps. The most exciting of these was one where lieutenants Jimmy Doolittle, Alec Pearson, and Brookley tied their planes together with string and took off and landed in formation without breaking the string.

In 1923, the Aero Club received funds to maintain the airport at Bowman Field. They continued to do this until 1928, when the Louisville and Jefferson County Air Board was created by the state legislature. On September 16, 1926, the Aero Club became affiliated with the National Aeronautic Association.

In 1934, sixteen planes made a tour of Kentucky, visiting the Work Progress Administration airports. They started in Louisville and stopped in Owensboro, Paducah, Mayfield, Murray, Madisonville, Lebanon, Middlesboro, Williamsburg, Monticello, Glasgow, and Bowling Green. The club recruited women to join in 1938, and, from that point on, the women kept things moving. They organized Dawn Patrols, in which they would get up at 5:00 a.m. on Sunday mornings and fly to nearby towns and return in the early morning. The idea of the air tours was to interest all other cities in aviation and to emphasize the importance of state legislation for its promotion and control. This led to the Kentucky Aeronautics Act of 1940 and the formation of the Kentucky State Air Board.

The club went through some transition periods that began during World War II, but things improved in the early 1980s. A clubhouse was built near Bowman Field and the club now has more than three hundred members.