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Squier’s Stories: National Airports Urged – in 1917!

In 1917, air travel was mostly by single engine planes with open cockpits.  Interest in the airplane was primarily for use in war.  And the United States was behind the times in “air travel” when compared to some European Countries.  Yet COL George O. Squier was urging that cities plan for municipal reservations in which to park airplanes.

That’s pretty forward-thinking – especially since so few people even owned cars at that time!

COL Squier was the head of the Army’s Aviation Section; and he soon became a Major General, and the Chief Signal Officer.  But Squier was also an inventor and innovator.   

In article published 14 January 1917 in the New York Times, Squier told the audience that the day was approaching that there would be “municipal reservations” for parking airplanes.  He even said that one day, it would be “easier and as safe to fly across the Continent in an airplane as it is now to cross it in an automobile.”

Squier argued the need for publicly accessible airports, and that both state and federal governments should support this endeavor.  According to him, America “needed a chain of them around the whole United States, so that we can fly from the one to the other and circuit this country.”

Squier also recommended that if a city were being lain out anew, and that space be provided for airplanes.  He urged that interior cities, such as Indianapolis, Indiana, be thought of as “airport towns” and that these cities have areas where “ships of the air” could be “docked or berthed.” 

Squier even went as far as to urge that the same route used at the time for automobiles, and that landing areas along the route include “gasoline and mechanics and first aid.” 

Using Army mail delivery as an example, Squier stated that at that time, airplanes could deliver mail to General Pershing’s Mexico Headquarters in sixty-six minutes, delivery by “truck trains” was taking three days he said.  Additional advantages offered for mail delivery included sending airplanes to ships at sea to retrieve mail and the delivering that mail at its destination, avoiding quarantine at port. 

Squier also discussed the possibility of an Army aerial proving ground, and advocated that a proving ground in the eastern U.S. be called Langley Field.  He also discussed need for development of “super machine guns.”

It seems like there’s not much Squier didn’t consider!

Stay tuned for a special edition of Squier’s Stories when we run a bio of him next Wednesday, and another brilliant invention on Thursday.

Note: Squier’s Stories is a Thursday blog mini-series about the life and inventions of George O. Squier.  They are composed by Staff Historian Floyd Hertweck, and edited and posted by Staff Historian Chrissie Reilly.

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Continuing the Discussion

  1. Meet George Squier! – CECOM Historical Office linked to this post on November 4, 2010

    Squier also studied aviation.  In 1908 he became the first airplane passenger, in a plane piloted by Orville Wright! Early on, Squier saw the immense military importance of aviation.