A group of Chicagoans, some of whom had previously attended flying schools, were displeased with the high cost of learning to fly. They formed the Promotional poster for Edgewater Flying Club about 1930. (Photo courtesy of Steve King)Edgewater Flying Club as an alternative to provide lower cost flight lessons.

Edgewater Flying Club was a non-profit organization in which the participants paid a membership fee to share the purchase of equipment and other fixed costs. Charges for flight time were based on actual operating costs.


At the time, flying clubs were a new approach to aircraft ownership. By 1932, Edgewater ads proclaimed them to be “America’s first cooperative Air University.” Because the club had no bond issues or stock on which to pay dividends, all profits were reinvested either purchasing additional equipment or reducing flying rates.

Edgewater offered a complete array of courses including: Introductory Aviation, Private Pilot License, Limited Commercial License, Transport Pilot License, Mechanics (Airframe and Engine) License, Aerial Photography, Celestial Navigation, and Stress Analysis. They also offered coaching classes to prepare pilots for their Dept. of Commerce exam.

Like most flying schools of the period, Edgewater Flying Club had offices, classrooms, and workshops downtown at 357 N. LaSalle. They offered both day and evening classes for the convenience of their students.

Flight lessons were done at a number of flying fields around the area. An ad in September 1930 indicates they flew out of Elmhurst Airport. A year later, an ad describes their use of two airports. Flying from Chicago Municipal (at 5250 W. 63rd) provided the student the opportunity to observe and fly in a busy airport with a wide variety of aircraft and operations. Less experienced students flew out of Harlem airport which was easier and safer because students were not competing with Muni’s traffic.

Club Membership Fee was $150. Rates for flight instruction were $10/hr. solo or $20/hr. dual instruction. Including the Membership Fee, the Club’s ads estimated license costs to be $300 for the Private Pilot, $550 for the Limited Commercial, and $1500 for the Transport Pilot.

Another advantage for members of Edgewater Flying Club was the ability to purchase an airplane at a substantial discount. As the poster shows, Edgewater was a dealer for Great Lakes, a prominent biplane manufacturer.

The Club was also a dealer for Nicholas-Beazley airplanes out of Marshall, Mo. Nicholas-Beazley made two-place monoplanes that were advertised for their safety. The company claimed that not only was the plane spin-proof but that was able to right itself from any position with hands off the controls.

The poster also indicates the Club was a dealer for the Floyd Smith Safety Parachutes. The parachutes sold by Floyd Smith Aerial Equipment Co. in Chicago’s Loop, were the first free-fall parachutes in the world. Learn more about them in the entry “1918/07/27  First Unattached Parachute.”


Poster photo courtesy of Steve King.


Popular Aviation; Chicago Aeronautical Publications; Chicago

  1. "Breaking into Print" (advertisement); October 1931; Vol. 9, No. 4; p. 3.
  2. "Fly at Rates Guaranteed to be Lowest in the United States" (advertisement); September 1930; Vol. 7, No. 2; p. 82.
  3. "Patin Solos in 4 Hours" (advertisement); November 1931; Vol. 9. No. 5; p. 66.
  4. "Patin Solos in 4 Hours!" (advertisement); February 1932; Vol. 10, No. 2; back cover.


Wikipedia (online); "Nicholas-Beazley NB-3"; accessed 1/27/2019.