The C.E. Daniel Collection
The Originals - Pre WWII Aviators
Clair Eugene Cheney
 Clair Eugene Cheney was born on January 12, 1889 in Greene, Iowa.  So far, I have been able to find out little about his military
and civilian flying career.  He arrived at the University of Illinois on March 15th, 1918 and attended three months of training,
leaving the university on June 15th, 1918.  Cheney then went to the newly formed Camp Dix, where he remained from June 15th
to July 6th, 1918.  Cheney then went to Carruthers Field, remaining there from July 6th to October 26th, 1918.  
 
 On November 13th, Cgheney arrived at Brooks Field, where he remained until December 16th, 1918.  From December 18th,
1918 to January 15th, 1919, Cheney served as a flight instructor at Kelly Field.  His flight rating during this time was listed as
"Reserve Military Aviator."  From the military records I could locate, it listed Cheney as having been in "war service" from
December 15th, 1917 to January 15th, 1919.         Cheney is listed in the August 31st, 1919 Official List of Officers' Reserve
Corps. - serving in the Aviation Signal Reserve Corps.  Cheney can also be found in the 1922 edition of Who's Who in American
Aeronautics.  Despite being an aviator at a time when aviators were a rare breed, he obviously made a name for himself in the
aviation field.

 From Cheney's documents that are in my private collection, it would seem that Cheney spent the years between the wars working
for various oil companies, conducting aerial mapping and photography.  The photograph seen to the left shows Cheney in that
period, most likely sometime in the late 1930's.  Documentation shown below indicates that in 1937 (and most likely before that
year), Cheney was flying for Edgar Tobin Aerial Surveys in San Antonio, Texas.  Tobin was another well known aviation, having
been a successful pilot in WWI.

 A 1940 article in Popular Aviation magazine, indicates that Cheney's son, Harold Cheney, was then serving as the Chief Test
Pilot for the Vultee Corporation.  In that same article, Cheney is described as a "famous barnstormer" who spent the years
between the wars flying passengers, barnstorming, flying for oil companies and making money where ever a pilot could during
those lean years.
   Cheney's August, 1938 dated identification card from the Department of
Commerce.  The card is signed by Cheney and housed in a Skelly Pilot License
holder, a close up of the front is displayed to the left.  The reverse displays the logos
of both the Skelly Oil Company and the Spartan Aircraft Company of Tulsa,
Oklahoma.  

Oilman William G. Skelly purchased a struggling aircraft company, Mid-Continent
Aircraft Manufacturing Company, in January, 1928. He renamed the company
Spartan Aircraft Company, revamped the company and founded the Spartan College
of Aeronautics.  Skelly continued to support the company during the early years of
the Great Depression, while it began producing aircraft. The Great Depression
strained Skelly's personal finances, and in 1935, J. Paul Getty purchased a controlling
interest in the company from Skelly. At the beginning of World War II, Getty
assumed direct control of the company operations. He expanded manufacturing by
making sub-assemblies for warplanes and opened branches of the Spartan School of
Aeronautics in Miami, Muskogee and Ponca City, Oklahoma.

The Spartan College of Aeronautics and Technology still exists today.
This document was issued to Cheney on March 12, 1932.  It gives him permission to enter into Mexico, most likely as a representative of a survey company.  The document is
interesting and shows his occupation as that of aviator, and lists him home address as Route 8, Box 115, San Antonio, Texas.  His wife is listed as the next of kin and the document
appears to be issued on a temporary basis.  The document does have one error, as it lists his age as "43" when he was 34 at the time this document was issued.
Douglas "Wrong Way" Corrigan
 Shown to the right is the small document grouping belonging to
Cheney.  The "Pilot Flight Record and Log Book" is Cheney's 5th log
book, and records his flights starting in November of 1945 and
ending in November of 1948.  Also shown is Cheney's Army Air
Force Pilot and Crew Member Physical Record Card, credentials
issued to him by the Mexican Government and his Skelly Oil Pilot
License holder.
      Cheney's documents clearly indicate that he remained stateside
throughout his military service during the second World War.  Seen in
the photograph to the right, Cheney is second from the right.  The
other men in the photograph are identified simply as:  (left to right)
M/Sgt. Devilbills, Lt. Woltz and Lt. Rookstool.

  Cheney's physical record card, issued to him during the war, shown
below, records his flight rating as that of a Command Pilot.  His
instrument pilot certificate, shown above, and dated June 28th, 1947,
shows he was present for the forming of the 16th Photographic
Squadron, which was created in June of 1947.  The goal of the 16th
P.S. was to work with Strategic Air Command to map the entirety of
the United States in detail.  
Below, three sample entries from Cheney's well filled out Pilot Flight Record and Log Book.
Douglas Corrigan was born in Galveston, Texas on January 22, 1907.  After making a transcontinental flight from Long Beach, California, to New York, Corrigan filed the standard
flight plan indicating his intention to fly back to Long Beach.  COrrigan took off from Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn, New York, and according to his flight plan, was intending to
return to Long Beach.

Corrigan next landed in Ireland, having completed a trans-Atlantic flight, which he was not authorized for.  When confronted about his flight, Corrigan claimed a navigational error and
heavy cloud cover had caused the misdirected flight to Ireland.  Corrigan had requested permission earlier to fly to Ireland but his request had been denied.  For his "error", Corrigan
was given the nickname "Wrong Way Corrigan."  For the remainder of his life, Corrigan would never admit that he had purposely made the flight, always remaining with his original
explanation that the flight had been made in error.

The above hand written letter and signed photograph had been sent to a woman who lived in Oakland, California, who had written to him requesting an autographed photo.  The letter
and photo, both dated 12-24-38, were sent to Mildred Eddy, as requested.
      The photographs below are not part of my private collection, but were kindly submitted by a Cheney family member for display on this page.  The photos depict
Cheney in the early stages of his flying career.
1918