Four local pilots, Gus DeSchepper, Floyd Ketner, Dr. C.C. Sloan and J. Wesley Smith, joined together to develop an airport at Franing Field. It’s easy to see from this aerial shot why Franing Field was such an attractive piece of land for an airport. Wide open spaces meant being able to take off from any point on the field and it also meant there was plenty of room to grow.
Our early start meant lots of innovators wanted to find their place in aviation development.
Iowa-native Clayton Folkerts designed the Monocoupe which featured side-by-side seating, an enclosed cockpit and was perfect for racing. Davenport-based Velie Carriage Company then purchased the company that had been manufacturing the Monocoupe. The stages of Velie transportation show the tremendous progress that was made. A restored Monocoupe now hangs in the airport’s atrium.
Phoebe Omlie, the first woman to earn a transport pilot’s license and the first to receive an aircraft mechanic’s license set numerous records with her Velie Monocoupe which she named Miss Moline.
We made our mark by becoming part of the airmail route for National Air Transport but it was clear that the next big thing on the horizon was passenger air travel and we were ready for it.