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Brunoniana

From Martha Mitchell’s Encyclopedia Brunoniana:

Flying Club

A Flying Club called the Brown University Aero Club was first organized in January 1928 by about thirty students who had an interest in aviation, and was assisted in its formation by Joseph K. Barber, a registered pilot. The club considered buying a plane, but instead made plans for flying instruction and the use of a plane owned by the Curtis Flying Service at the Rumford airport. The next year the club was limited to eight members and had the use of a Sikorsky monoplane which was the personal property of Paul L. Dujardin ’29, president of the club. The Glider Club was formed in the fall of 1930, and its first year acquired part ownership in a hangar and two gliders. Arthur L. Lawrence ’27 was instructor for the club, of which his brother, Alfred A. Lawrence ’33 was president. The Brown Aviation Club with about 25 Charter members was organized in 1931, at which time the members made it clear that they were not connected with the University Glider Club. The announcement of their arrangements for the use of two Spartan monoplanes at Hillsgrove (now Green) Airport stated, “It is planned to start the men in learning the fundamentals before cold weather comes, but there will be no let-up after snow falls, as ski equipment will be on hand if needed.” Flying instruction became available from another source in the fall of 1939, when a Civil Aeronautics Authority program of pilot training courses was introduced. Women students were also interested in flying and organized an Aviation Club under the direction of Professor Norris W. Rakestraw. Ten women entered Civil Air Patrol classes at the armory on North Main Street.

After the end of World War II, flying was a popular hobby, and a new Flying Club was organized in 1946. For the first two years club members took flying lessons at local airports. In 1948 a non-profit student corporation of the Club members named Air Brown Inc. purchased a Taylorcraft plane after raising the $400 down payment from twenty members, each of whom contributed twenty dollars. The shareholders of Air Brown could use the plane at the preferred rate, $2.20 an hour, compared to five dollars for other club members. In 1948, when students from Rhode Island State College painted the bear in front of Marvel Gym blue prior to the traditional Brown-Rhode Island football game and Brown students were threatened with expulsion if they entered the Rhode Island State campus in retaliation, flyers from Brown, with their own plane and four others which had been rented, bombarded the campus of Rhode Island State College in Kingston with 20,000 leaflets. They had obeyed the letter of the law by being over the campus, but not on it. The bombardment with leaflets was also carried out at the University of Connecticut and at Colgate. The Liber Brunensis in 1951, noting that the club now had two planes, mentioned a fringe benefit for members, who were allowed to “have use of the planes at their convenience ... Many members fly home or elsewhere on weekends or vacations.” Members received instruction at Hillsgrove Airport, and the club took part in the annual aerial meet conducted by the Association of Northeastern College Clubs and also meets with single colleges. The contests in a flying meet included spot landing, paper strafing, and bomb dropping. In 1951 the Brown club won seven events in a Cape Cod meet sponsored by Harvard. Interest in flying seems to have waned after 1953, and the Flying Club no longer appeared in the Liber Brunensis

A new Glider Club was formed in 1969 with Professor Boris Rotman as its instructor and Vincent Simmon ’72 as its first president. The first flight by the club was made on May 27, 1969, at a small grass airfield called Coventry Park, where a car-winch was used for launching the glider. Three months later, the club moved its operations to Plymouth Airport in Massachusetts, where aero-towing and instruction were readily available. In 1974 the club acquired a new glider with better performance, and moved to North Central Airport in Lincoln, Rhode Island. At that time Dr. Rotman used the glider in a Modes of Thought course entitled “The process of decision making as applied to gliding and scientific research,” in which the student participated in seven or eight flights and compared the relatively simple decisions in gliding with other examples of decision making. Between twelve and fifteen students took the course, which was offered again in 1975. In 1979 the Glider Club joined forces with a club at M.I.T., enabling it to share the M.I.T. gliders and a plane for launching. Interest in gliding declined at Brown, and when the Brown glider was destroyed in a windstorm at the Mansfield Airport in April 1980, the Brown Soaring Club invested the insurance money in a plane instead of a new glider. After that a separate Brown Flying Club was organized, and its members, renting the plane from the Brown Soaring Club, continue to fly at the North Central Airport.

The above entry appears in Encyclopedia Brunoniana by Martha Mitchell, copyright 1993 by the Brown University Library. It is used here by permission of the author and the University and may not be copied or further distributed without permission.


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