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.

Images

The Wedell-Williams Air Service as Distributors

The Wedell-Williams Air Service as Distributors

The Detroit Aircraft Corporation gave booklets to its distributors to sell planes in regions where they had no branches. Potential customers looked through these booklets to select the desired plane. Image courtesy of the E.F. Newman Collection, Earl K. Long Library, University of New Orleans. View File Details Page

Detroit Aircraft Corporation Sales Card

Detroit Aircraft Corporation Sales Card

When the air service had an interested customer, the sales representative would put together a card similar to this in order to keep track of the potential sale. Image courtesy of the E.F. Newman Collection, Earl K. Long Library, University of New Orleans View File Details Page

The Wedell-Williams Flight School

The Wedell-Williams Flight School

With more and more planes coming out of factories, the aviation industry required more pilots and mechanics. In this picture, Jimmie (standing on the plane) and his brother Walter Wedell (standing next to the plane engine) teach an A & P (aircraft and powerplant) class for mechanics. Image Courtesy of the Wedell Williams Memorial Foundation and the Louisiana State Museum View File Details Page

Wedell-Williams Flying School

Wedell-Williams Flying School

This pamphlet describes the flying schools located in Patterson, New Orleans, Alexandria, Baton Rouge, Shreveport, and Gulf Port, MS. The air service offered training in many levels of flying certification and in maintaining aircraft. Image Courtesy of the E.F. Newman Collection, Earl K. Long Library, University of New Orleans View File Details Page

Wedell-Williams Flying School Contract

Wedell-Williams Flying School Contract

Students signed contracts like the one above to show that they understood the requirements and dangers of flight school. Image courtesy of the E.F. Newman Collection, Earl K. Long Library, University of New Orleans View File Details Page

Pilot's License Application

Pilot's License Application

After completing flight school, the students would be able to apply for a license from the Dept. of Commerce, which regulated aeronautics. Image Courtesy of the E.F. Newman Collection, Earl K. Long Library, University of New Orleans View File Details Page

Jimmie Wedell Delivering Radio Equipment

Jimmie Wedell Delivering Radio Equipment

As a transportation service, the air service planes carried people and equipment quickly over great distances, including on this occasion. By the early 1930s, the Crosley Radio Company was one of the biggest in the country, and its equipment provided entertainment to millions. Image courtesy of the E.F. Newman Collection, Earl K. Long Library, University of New Orleans View File Details Page

Ticket and Receipt from NOLA to Houston

Ticket and Receipt from NOLA to Houston

Imagine handwriting plane tickets today! Passenger volume was low in the 1930s, which saved the air service employees' hands, but the service had to take in other income. Image Courtesy of the Wedell Williams Memorial Foundation and the Louisiana State Museum View File Details Page

Pilot's Weather Report:  An Essential Piece of Paperwork

Pilot's Weather Report: An Essential Piece of Paperwork

When traveling by air, the pilot must obviously remain vigilant of the weather. On each leg of the flight, the pilot (in this case, Walter Wedell) would have to receive a clearance card with an approved weather report in order to have permission to depart. Image Courtesy of the Wedell Williams Memorial Foundation and the Louisiana State Museum View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Teresa M. Thessen, “Duties of the Wedell-Williams Air Service,” New Orleans Historical, accessed March 30, 2017, http://neworleanshistorical.org/items/show/680.
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