1910 was a pivotal year for aviation enthusiasts in the United States. The New York Times ran three separate stories outlining the organization of the first Aero Club of America in 1906 and the subsequent controversies that led to the reorganization of the Clubs. Three different conventions were held in New York City in 1910 among aeronautical clubs and societies, resulting in the formation of The National Council of Affiliated Clubs of the Aero Club of America.
In his January 12 Times article “Growth of Aviation Due to Aero Club,” Charles H. Heitman wrote “…a number of experimenters in this country were beginning to show encouraging results, but their progress was necessarily slow.”
“The public regarded anyone interested in aeronautics as a special kind of maniac, and there was absolutely no encouragement for the experimenter or no recognition for the work he accomplished. …In the summer of 1905 the subject was discussed with great interest by members of the Automobile Club of America; it was realized that if these workers could be brought together in one body where they could compare notes and exchange the knowledge gained by their efforts it would insure much more rapid progress; it was also suggested to start a club, such as the Aero Club of France, to offer facilities for its members to make ascensions, &c.: aeronautics as a sport would also benefit very largely, and as a result the Aero Club of America was born.”
“Little did its originators imagine that what they looked upon as a mere experiment would grow with leaps and bounds and become the powerful institution it is to-day.”
An unsigned article, probably also by Heitman, followed on June 23, 1910 entitled “National Aero Body Formed After Fight.” This piece recorded that at the first meeting of the newly formed organization “thirty-six clubs were represented, with a total membership of more than 3,300 individuals.”
Seen here are photographs of the annual dinners of the Aero Clubs of America found in the collection assembled by Harold Fowler McCormick, Class of 1895, and given to Princeton University by Alexander Stillman of Chicago, a relative of the McCormick family. These are now housed in the Graphic Arts collection.