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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 College Airport was constructed in 1931. 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.

Material in the SCRC

A note about the information in this wiki
Unfortunately, many of the early original records of the College of William and Mary were destroyed by fire, military occupation, and the normal effects of time. The information available here is the best available from known documents and sources at the time it was written. Information in this wiki is not complete as new information continues to be uncovered in the SCRC's collections and elsewhere. Researchers are strongly encouraged to use the SCRC's access tools for their research as the information contained in this wiki is by no means comprehensive.