When John Sullivan was still a young boy in grade school, he walked down to what was then an airfield in Kenosha, Wisconsin. That piece of land not far from Lake Michigan belonged to Hart Smith, one of Kenosha’s first aviators. Smith was working on his airplane inside of his barn – a former cavalry horse barn – when he spied Sullivan and asked the boy to hand him a can of paint. Sullivan helped him work on his plane, a Curtiss Jenny, for the rest of the afternoon. That fall, Smith took the young boy for a ride in the aircraft. During an interview Mr. Sullivan recalled, “It was my introduction to airplanes and I never got over it.”
John Sullivan started flight instruction in 1937, learning the skill from Ruth Harman, the owner of Harman Aviation in Kenosha and the first female stunt pilot in Wisconsin. He bought his first airplane that year, a three passenger biplane. Sullivan flew on anti-submarine patrol for the Navy while stationed in Greenland. After leaving the military in 1945, he worked at the Kenosha Airport until 1950 and then assumed management of the Racine Airport until 1983. His interest in preserving the aviation history of the area prompted him to take numerous photos of pilots and airplanes and to survey pilots from the area. He started the “Breakfast Club” in 1983 for pilots and other fans of aviation, eventually expanding the group to over 60 members.
Mr. Sullivan donated his collection of over 400 photographs, newspaper clippings, and aviator biographies to UW-Parkside in 2009.
CopyrightClick to read our Copyright statement
This compilation (including design, introductory text, organization, and descriptive material) is copyrighted by University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents.
This copyright is independent of any copyright on specific items within the collection. Because the University of Wisconsin Libraries generally do not own the rights to materials in these collections, please consult copyright or ownership information provided with individual items.
Images, text, or other content downloaded from the collection may be freely used for non-profit educational and research purposes, or any other use falling within the purview of “Fair Use“.
In all other cases, please consult the terms provided with the item, or contact the Libraries.