Sunday, August 12, 2012

Aviation in St Louis

St Louis is a relatively small metropolis compared to New York, Houston, Chicago, or San Fransisco.  Even so, it has boasted of strong financial institutions in the past and today still has a good foothold in the financial market.  It was financial investors in St Louis who lent her name to a plane that became legendary, the Spirit of St Louis (see Spirit of St Louis at Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Washington DC).  Charles Lindburg flew this plane over the Atlantic Ocean non-stop for the first time and thus winning the Orteig Prize and opening up commercial aviation between the United States and Europe.  In fact, St Louis has some things to offer where it comes to aviation.

Aircraft manufacturing is headed by the Boeing Company.  They build F-18s and F15s.  This plant was the McDonnell plant back in the Apollo era and made the Mercury and Gemini capsules.  One of each is at the St Louis Science Center on display.

Lambert Airport provides commercial flights all over the country and surrounding countries.  Spirit of St Louis Airport sports charter plane companies as well as two flight schools (one for planes and one for helicopters).  It also has facilities for private aircraft.

Every year there is a hot air balloon race in Forest Park.  It features a night of 'balloon glow' which is when they inflate and light up the balloons for a 'breath taking view'.  The next day, the balloons take off to the skies and race.

Finally there is also an aeronautical school in the area.  St Louis Aeronautical Institute is part of the St Louis Community College.  It provides courses in manufacturing aircraft that go to an Associates Degree in Skilled Trade Industrial Occupations Technology.

One key note to say, the Ansari X Prize that gave the competition and prize money for the first commercial company to make a space ship that would go to space suborbitaly twice in two weeks and lead to the success of Burt Rutan's SpaceShipOne and thereby Virgin Galactic, was based in the St Louis Science center at the time of the prize award in 2004.

Well, this should give you a good idea what is out there in the aeronautical world in St Louis Metropolitan Area.  Aeronautics is a big world.  If you choose an occupation in it, there's a good chance you will travel to other places.  St Louis has a history in aeronautics and it also has a present.  I wish it had a continued stake in the new commercial space race.