Iowa-native Carl S. Bates attended Armour Institute[a], in Chicago, where he was taught by Octave Chanute, among others. Bates started building a plane of his own, a smaller version of Curtiss’s plane. While trying to build airplanes, Bates discovered the need for reliable, lightweight engines so he built his own. He formed the Bates Aero Motor Co. which produced high-quality air and water-cooled engines.

In December 1908, Bates completed the first aircraft built in Chicago using his own 10 hp engine. He took his plane to Washington Park Golf Course, where he made a few short hops. Later that month, the owner of White City Amusement Park, which already had an existing balloon and dirigible port cleared some land to make a landing strip for Bates to use as he improved his airplane designs.

A year after building a scaled-down Curtiss plane, he expanded his business. Bates produced aircraft of his own design, although most were modifications of other aircraft. Nevertheless, his planes and reliable, lightweight engines became popular throughout the area.[1]

By the time of the Aviation Meet in the summer of 1911, Bates had designed a monoplane combining the best features of many planes. The body was similar to the Nieuport while the wing was an improved version of the Morane plane with wing-warping and a “pigeon-tail empennage.” It used the Bates-Heinemann motor.[2]


[a]              Armour Institute later became the Illinois Institute of Technology.


[1]             Balloons to Jets: A Century of Aviation in Illinois 1855–1955; by Howard L. Scamehorn; Carbondale IL: Southern Illinois University Press, 2000. p. 42-46, 69.

                Chicago Aviation: An Illustrated History;by David M. Young; DeKalb IL: Northern Illinois University Press, 2003, p. 72.

[2]              Aero: America’s Aviation Weekly; St. Louis: Aero Publications; "Designs High-Speed Plane;" August 5, 1911, p. 395, Vol. 2, No. 18,