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Aeronautical Training Schools Records

Identifier: MS-64

Scope and Contents

The collection documents early long distant course offerings for learning the basics of aeronautics and mechanical aeronautics through materials from the American School of Aviation and the National Aero Institute based in Chicago Illinois in the early 20th century. The collection is arranged into two series: Series I. American School of Aviation, and Series II. National Aero Institute.

Series I., American School of Aviation, contains two sets of course materials from the correspondence courses offered by the school at the time. The 1917-1919 course materials from the “Complete Course in Practical Aeronautics” were owned by Lawrence M. Blakey of Auburn, Illinois, who enrolled at the age of 18. As listed in the enrollment application, the complete course included twenty-five lessons covering the science of practical aeronautics, and the designing and construction of aeroplanes, ten lectures prepared by prominent aviators and aeroplane builders delivered monthly, twenty blue prints showing technical and constructional details of aeroplanes, six bulletins containing information on current events and suggestions to simplify the course reading, and twenty-five exams based on the course materials, which were returned with grades and comments. These materials except for the blueprints are all included in the collection. The second set of course materials consists of the lessons for the “Complete Course in Practical Aviation”, copyrighted in 1925, and the “American School of Aviation Bulletin”, Vol. X, No. 1-7.

Series II. National Aero Institute contains a complete set of 53 lessons used in the “Complete Mechanics of Aviation” course, dated 1917. The lessons are arranged in numerical order.


  • Creation: 1917-1919, 1925


Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on accessing material in this collection.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright restrictions may apply. Unpublished manuscripts are protected by copyright. Permission to publish, quote, or reproduce must be secured from the repository and the copyright holder.

Biographical / Historical

The American School of Aviation was located in Chicago, Illinois and offered a complete correspondence course in practical aeronautics. The advisory staff of the school consisted of Lester V. Bratton, Chief Instructor: Raoul Hofmann, M.E., winner of the Grand Prix Vienna in 1909; Tracy F. Brackett, M.E. of Designer Brackett Rotary Engine; Archie F. Keating, licensed pilot #873; and R.P. Markus, Aero Club of Illinois. The school was located at 431 South Dearborn Street in Chicago in 1918. Lester V. Bratton continued as chief instructor through at least 1925.

The American School of aviation was listed in the “College and Private School Directory of the United States and Canada”, Vol. 13, 1922 with the following entry:

“This school provides practical instruction in aeronautics; course has been prepared and arranged especially for men who without leaving home wish to avail themselves of the opportunities in the airplane industry; our course in practical aeronautics has received the highest endorsement of famous aviators, eminent aeronautical engineers and leading airplane manufacturers.”

The National Aero Institute was also located on South Dearborn Street in Chicago, Illinois, but at address 538. Both the American School of Aviation and the National Aero Institute advertised nationally in periodicals such as Popular Science Monthly to recruit students and also recruited students through commission based employment.


0.7 linear feet

Language of Materials



Contains lesson booklets, examination papers, correspondence, advertising, and lectures from two early correspondence schools involved in teaching aviation: The National Aero Institute and the American School of Aviation.


The collection is arranged into two series:

Series I:
American School of Aviation, 1917-1918, 1925
Series II:
National Aero Institute, 1917

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection of 1917-1919 American School of Aviation materials in Series I, was purchased from Hamill & Barker, Antiquarian Booksellers in Chicago, IL, circa 1985. No provenance is available for the 1925 course materials from the American School of Aviation, nor the National Aero Institute materials in Box 2.

Processing Information

The original processor is unknown. The finding aid consisted of an inventory.

Guide to the Aeronautical Training Schools Collection (MS-64)
ca. 1985
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2011: The 1925 American School of Aviation Bulletin and Lessons 1-50 from the American School of Aviation were added to the collection.
  • 2017 December: Collection level finding aid was written according to DACs by Toni Vanden Bos.

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

Wright State University Libraries
Special Collections and Archives
3640 Colonel Glenn Hwy
Dayton OH 45435-0001 USA