The Department of Aeronautics at the College of William and Mary was initiated in 1930 or 1931 in connection with James Riordan of New York City who ran a school for young men on a steamship berthed at Jamestown. Riordan offered to swap flying lessons for the use of the College laboratories. The Department of Aeronautics was established in September 1931. The students formed the Flight Club. Forty-four pilots were trained with only a few minor accidents. Colonel Earl C. Popp provided the flight instruction. Popp originally taught for the Riordan Flight School, which summered in Jamestown, but he left Riordan to teach and head the Department of Aeronautics at the College.
The last mention of the department in the catalog was for the 1933-1934 school year. The aeronautics program faded away around the time of President Chandler's death (May 1934) in part due to its high cost.
The first department of aeronautics was at the University of Michigan.
- Flight School, University Archives Subject File, Special Collections Research Center, Earl Gregg Swem Library, College of William and Mary.
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