Stan Crader

Author & Lecturer on Writing About Rural America

Charles Walgreen Flies the coop!

Gotcha! Betcha thought I was talking about Walgreen’s tax inversion plan. Nope!

Ira Biffel was born and raised near Marble Hill, Missouri—hence the name of Marble Hill’s airport—Ira Biffel Memorial.

What’s Ira Biffel got to do with Charles Walgreen? Glad you asked.

After leaving Missouri Ira Biffel spent time in the US Army and is credited with being one of the first pilots to use an aircraft in the armed services, thus helping start what is now known as the US Air Force. That was during WWI.

Ira became known as one of America’s best flight instructors, which is why Charles Lindbergh’s mother hired Ira to teach her son to fly. 1922

Finally–the year is 1929–Tarzan adventure comic strip appears, Hoover authorizes building of Boulder Dam (Hoover), Popeye cartoon appears, Babe Ruth becomes first to hit 500 home runs, Arabs attack Jews in Israel, Cubs blow 8/0 World Series Lead – A’s score 10 runs in one inning, Game of Bingo invented, Lindbergh and partners form TWA airlines, and Jimmy Doolittle makes first all instrument flight.

And now—Voila!

Ira Biffle becomes the first known corporate pilot – flying for Charles Walgreen. Walgreen used the Sikorsky Amphibian to fly to store openings and later used the plane to give rides for employees with Ira, a Marble Hill boy, at the stick.

Actually, Ira grew up closer to Patton than Marble Hill, but let’s not be fussy.

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