In the Fall of 2005, several MIT students banded together to start a new club at MIT dedicated solely to flying. However, given MIT’s strong association with the field of aeronautics, it’s no surprise that some sort of flying club has been around since nearly the beginning of aviation.
The first mention of an MIT flying club appears in the Tech in the late 1920s. The “Technology Flying Club”, as it was known at the time, purchased its first plane in 1927, despite delays in being recognized as an organization by the institution. This was to be the first of many obstacles this club–and MIT flying clubs in general–would face. Members were often accused of neglecting their studies to focus on flying, and in 1929, the club was forced to disband due to a number of near-accidents and high expenses.
However, by 1932, interest in a reformed flying club was sparked when Elmer Wiggins ’05, president of Wiggins Airways offered to solo every member of the club for $50, regardless of the hours necessary. Members traveled to Wiggins Field– now Norwood Airport–to fly Stinson monoplanes, Spartan biplanes, Taylor Cub, Fairchild. Yet despite Wiggins success in encouraging aviation at MIT, the club was forced to fold, only to be replaced several years later by the Back Bay Flying Club.
Interest in flying reached its peak in the late 1940s. Once again known as the Technology Flying Club, student members flew an Aeronca, a Cessna 120, and several Cessna 140s. The club, stationed alternatively at Beverly and Bedford Airports, charged $3.20-$3.60 an hour for flying lessons, and held an airshow in 1949 with a group of Corsairs and a Hellcat. Later that year, two pilots, in an effort to attract new members, attempted to drop leaflets upon incoming Freshmen announcing the club.
Despite these successes, the club once again took an extended break in the early 50s, as nothing is mentioned of a flying club until 1958. Again, the club had moderate success, purchasing a Cessna 140 as well as a new Cessna 172. Another iteration of the club appeared in 1965, but not much is known of it, or of variations of flying clubs that appeared in the 40 years between 1965 and 2005.
Read more about the Flying Club’s history!
- Dr. Thomas R. Cuthbert, 1948-1949 MITFC President, Shares His Stories
- The Tech Engineering News‘ Feb. 1949 feature on the MITFC
If you have any information you think would be relevant for this section of the website, feel free to email ellman [at] mit [dot] edu.