In 1928 the advertising slogan “Learn to Fly Where Lindbergh Learned” started appearing in ads for the Lincoln Airplane and Flying School.
After invoking Lindbergh’s name, the ad stated that students would get the same thorough training that enabled Lindbergh to win fame and fortune.
Indeed, in 1923 Charles Lindbergh did start his flight training in Lincoln, Nebraska, at a company that was a forerunner to the Lincoln Airplane and Flying School. The flying school, which lasted until 1945, would use the slogan from 1928 to 1932.
Lindbergh at Lincoln
Pursuing his interest in aviation, Charles Lindbergh dropped out as a student at the University of Wisconsin and applied for flight training at the Nebraska Aircraft Corp. in Lincoln, Nebraska.
By the time he arrived in Lincoln on April 1, 1922, the Nebraska Aircraft Corp. had been purchased by Ray Page and renamed the Lincoln Standard Aircraft Co. When he arrived at the school, Lindbergh was given an introductory flight by Otto Timm, the company’s chief engineer.
His flight instructor was I.O. Biffle, test pilot and chief instructor for the company. After a month of training, Lindbergh’s instructor decided he could fly on his own.
However, Ray Page would not allow Lindbergh to fly solo without posting a $500 bond to cover any damage that might happen to the airplane as it had just been sold to a customer.
As he didn’t have the money to fly solo, he stayed in Lincoln for a year working for Lincoln Standard Aircraft in the factory. He left Lincoln in the spring of 1923 with enough money to buy a war-surplus airplane. He traveled to Americas, Georgia, where he bought a surplus Curtiss JN-4 Jenny biplane. With this plane he finally soloed and started his barnstorming career.
Lindbergh was very much anonymous when he arrived — it was a full six years before his flight across the Atlantic. But his later accomplishments would help make the Lincoln Airplane and Flying School one of the best-known civilian flying schools in the United States
Lincoln Flying School
The roots of the Lincoln Aircraft and Flying School lie with the Nebraska Aircraft Corp. The company was formed in 1919 when a group of local investors bought 480 war-surplus Standard aircraft and 150 surplus Hisso engines. In addition to refurbishing aircraft, the company also provided flight training.
In 1922 Page, a local Buick auto dealer, bought the company and renamed it the Lincoln Standard Aircraft Co. In 1928 the company was reorganized as the Lincoln Aircraft Co. and at this time divested itself from flight training.
The flying school part of the business was purchased by Ernest Jeremiah Sias, a former minister turned business man.
In 1910 Sias had founded the Lincoln Auto School, a training center for automobile mechanics. In 1920 he began training aircraft mechanics and the school was renamed the Lincoln Auto and Airplane School. In 1928, when Sias obtained the flight school, he combined it with his mechanics school under the name Lincoln Airplane and Flying School. The flight training part of the business was referred to as the Lincoln Flying School.
Sias started advertising the flying school with the catch phrase “Learn to Fly Where Lindbergh Learned.” The school was advertised widely not only in aviation magazines, but popular technical magazines and newspapers.
The aviation mechanics school used a variant of the phrase: ”Learn Aviation Where Lindbergh Learned.” These advertising slogans would be used until 1932.
The reputation of the school, which offered training and certification for private, commercial, and transport licenses, spread far and wide. They had students not only from the U.S., but also from South Africa, Scotland, and Canada. In 1931 they had 24 students from China.
The World’s Greatest Opportunity
The 1929 edition of the Lincoln Flying School’s catalog promoted aviation as the fastest growing industry in the United States. Stating that “Speed is Aviation and Aviation is Speed,” the school promised to provide the proper training so that students could be prepared to fill a high-paying job in the aviation industry.
One of the advantages touted for the school was its location in Nebraska. The catalog reported Lincoln was ideally suited for such a school lying geographically in the center of the United States with rich farm lands stretching for hundreds of miles in all directions with no obstructions to safe flying, such a mountains, rivers, or forests. Most any farm in the surrounding country would make a safe landing field.
The Lincoln School said its students could win fame and fortune as a flyer. There was no other calling that offered the thrill, the romance, the adventure, and the big opportunity for a quick financial award as that presented by aviation.
According to school officials, flying was easy and safe to learn. The school used only planes licensed by the Department of Commerce. The instructors were listed as “high class” experienced pilots holding transport licenses. New planes were used that had two cockpits for dual instruction, with the student sitting in the back in the regular pilot’s seat and the instructor sitting in the front.
Training began in open cockpit planes as the school considered them better than cabin planes as the student could more easily “feel at home in the air.” As the students progressed they were given experience in cabin airplanes.
Commercial students were given training on at least three types of planes, one of which was a cabin plane.
Transport students gained experience on at least four types of planes, with not less than 10 hours in a four-place cabin airplane and 10 hours of night flying.
Those reading the catalog were told not to pass up the golden opportunity that aviation offered: “The greatest opportunity the world has ever known.”
At the start of World War II, the Lincoln Airplane and Flying School celebrated its 21st anniversary. In 1939 the school started to provide federal training under the Civilian Pilot Training Program. With the start of the war the school was selected by the Army Air Corps for both flying and mechanics training. The school lasted until the end of World War II, going out of business in July 1945.