About Us

The Early Birds

As guests enter the W.H. Helmerich Exhibit Hall they immediately encounter Tulsa's first aviation event, an 1897 Independence Day balloon ascension.

Tulsa's early aviators included some well known flyers and some not-so-well known. In 1906 Tulsan Jimmy Jones built an airplane of his own design. It was blown away in an Oklahoma thunderstorm before he got the chance to fly it.

Herman DeVry, who would go on to found the DeVry Institute in Chicago, did some flying around Tulsa. Leonard Bonnie flew his Wright Model B for the 1911 Tulsa Fair carrying the first passenger in Tulsa. New Zealander Duncan McIntyre arrived in Tulsa in 1919 and soon created the city's first commercial airport. It was McIntyre Airport that hosted the Ford Reliability Tour and Charles Lindbergh and his Spirit of St. Louis, both in 1927. Art Goebel, the pilot of the WOOLAROC that won the Dole Race from Oakland to Honolulu would fly to McIntyre Airport to see Lindbergh come in, the only time in history that the two ocean flyers, the Spirit of St. Louis and the WOOLAROC would be together on the same airfield.