Duties of the Wedell-Williams Air Service

Stop 3 of 7 in the Wedell-Williams Airport in Jefferson Parish tour

The Wedell-Williams Air Service sold and distributed planes, taught the next generation of pilots and mechanics, and transported passengers.

To sell planes, the air service received informational pamphlets from aircraft companies on new planes coming out of the factories. The service’s sales representatives gave these pamphlets to potential customers and, if the customer showed interest, the service would arrange to buy the plane for the customer. For the efforts to sell the plane, the air service received a commission (usually ten percent).

If that customer did not know how to fly an aircraft, then he could enroll in the Wedell-Williams Flying School to learn. Depending on the kind of license the customer wanted, lessons would cost $600 (for a private license) to $3500 (for a transport license). Private licenses were best for private planes, but if one wanted to work as a pilot, he would have to get the transport license. Mechanic’s school cost $200 for those who did not want to fly a plane or for those who wanted to work in the aviation industry while studying for a pilot's license. Completing lessons with the air service did not give students a license, but it made them qualified to apply. Once that student had the license, he was able to fly.

Air transportation allowed people to travel from New Orleans to Shreveport, Houston, or St. Louis in only a few hours. These transport routes worked like a train route, with several stops in between the beginning point and the ending point. The Wedell-Williams Air Service operated many routes out of New Orleans and Patterson.