Photographs of the first airplane landing at Crawfordsville have just been rediscovered in a newly-arrived scrapbook lent to CDPL by the son of pilot Louis Spilman. The pilot, a local native, was assigned to the Aviation Section of the U.S. Army Signal Corps when he was persuaded to make the Crawfordsville flight on May 25, 1918. Proposed as a way to promote the purchase of War Bonds to finance World War I, the flight involved dropping hundreds of informational leaflets over the city, and culminated with a landing witnessed by the thousands of Crawfordsville residents gathered to welcome him.
In addition to images taken on the day of the flight, the scrapbook includes dozens of photographs relating to the Crawfordsville National Guard unit during the days leading up to World War I, local Boy Scout troops, Wabash College, and Crawfordsville High School during the 1911-1919 time frame, making this album an incredibly rare historical artifact. Thank you to Bob Spilman for his generosity in sharing the scrapbook with our local history collection! Check back soon to see many of the scrapbook’s photographs, which will be added to the CDPL image database.
Read the article "Thousands saw Louis Spilman make city's first plane landing" (.pdf) from Montgomery County Remembers (1976).