End of the Wedell-Williams Air Service, Patterson

Stop 5 of 6 in the Wedell-Williams Airport in Patterson tour

Jimmie Wedell would never enter the MacRobertson Race from England to Australia. The Gypsy Moth in which he was giving a lesson crashed just outside of Patterson on June 24, 1934. Wedell died instantly. The funeral procession led from Patterson to New Orleans and then ended in West Columbia, Texas. The aviation industry had lost a pioneer and promoter; this tragedy was followed by the death of his brother, Walter Wedell, in 1935 under mysterious circumstances.

Harry Williams carried on the business, but he had lost the heart of the company and a dear friend. The company also started to decline in New Orleans because of competition with the newly opened Shushan Airport. This problem prompted the Wedell-Williams to relocate its office to the lakefront airport and to use its Jefferson Parish airport as an emergency landing field.

The company experienced another tragedy when Williams' plane went down outside of Baton Rouge in 1936. Williams’s wife, Marguerite, took over as president and majority stockholder, but the air service was losing money. Within six months, Mrs. Williams sold the air service to Eddie Rickenbacker of Eastern Airlines.

The Patterson Airport came under the State of Louisiana’s jurisdiction in 1947, and it was renamed the Harry P. Williams Memorial Airport. The airport experienced many improvements and underwent expansion. Despite fluctuations in business related to the oil industry, the airport remains today to serve St. Mary Parish and the Central Louisiana Gulf Coast.

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