Aero Club of Philadelphia

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The Aero Club of Philadelphia' was formed as a ballooning society 20 and/or 24 May 1906 by some 20 enthusiasts who were among those enthralled by the first balloon ascent in Philadelphia, that of Alfred N. Chandler, whose maiden voyage was in his own aerostat, Initial, on 12 May 1906. (In so doing, Chandler was reported to be the first amateur balloonist to make an ascent in his own balloon. Chandler, who was already a member of the Aero Club of America and the Aero Club of France, was accompanied by Henry S. Gratz, an ACA member, and Charles Levee, a pilot of the Aero Club of France.) The Aero Club of Phila. was the only other aero club in the U.S. besides the ACA to be mentioned in the 1907 ACA annual. However, the ACA annual for 1909 did not include the Aero Club of Phila. as one of the affiliates of the ACA. The Aero Club of Phila. club was one of the 10 to 12 founders of the American Aeronautical Federation, 22 June 1910. By August 1910, the Aero Club of Philadelphia had merged with the Aero Club of Pennsylvania, which see.

Initial officers included Alfred N. Chandler, president; Henry S. Gratz and Dr. T. Chalmers Fulton, vice presidents; and E. A. Custer, secretary. The first ascent under club auspices was 26 May 1906. All club ascents were made from the Athletic Grounds of the United Gas Improvement Company at Point Breeze, that adjoined the Gasworks. In March 1907, construction was said to be under way for a 92,000 cubic foot balloon to be christened the Ben Franklin. However, when the Ben Franklin, a product of a Philadelphia workshop and then the largest balloon manufactured in the United States, made its maiden voyage on 24 Aug. 1907, its occupants, including Fulton, were identified as being associated with the Ben Franklin Aeronautical Society. 40 members in 1907. A Philadelphia club, not identified, had 30 members in June 1910.


  • 1906 WP, 13 May; 1906 Baltimore Sun, 15 May; 1906 Boston Daily Globe, 20 May; 1906 NYT, 27 May; 1907 Chicago Daily Tribune, 25 Mar.; 1907 WP, 11 Apr., 25 Aug.; 1907 BS, 25 Aug.; 1907 NYT, 1:1 Aeronautics (NYC) 16-18 (July 1907); 1:5 Aeronautics (NYC) 44 (1907); 1:6 Aeronautics (NYC) 37 (1907); 1907 ACA Navigating the Air xii; ACA Annuals (1907-1909); 1908 Intl Motor Cyclopaedia YB 14; 1909 Jane's All the World's Aircraft 251; 1910 NYT, 23-25 June; 7 Aeronautics 52-53 (1910);
Organization names Aero Club of Philadelphia
Entity type
Country US
City Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Affiliated with
Scope Local
Started aero 1906
Ended aero 1910
Key people
  • Address: 713 Chestnut St., Philadelphia (at least 1906-1908)