Tag Archives: Lambert Field

Lambert

by John Sarkis

November 12, 1946 –

lambert-pic

Albert Bond Lambert — aviation pioneer, champion golfer

Seventy years ago today, Albert Bond Lambert died in his St. Louis home at the age of 70. As the Missouri state golf champion, he competed in the (Paris) 1900 Olympics, finishing 8th in the individual event. Returning home, he won several local and national tournaments before competing in the 1904 Olympics, held in his hometown of St Louis.

The event was held at Glen Echo Country Club, which was owned by his father-in-law, Col. George McGrew. Lambert finished 8th once more, but his team won the Silver Medal. [1] [2]

The 1900 Paris Olympics had been held in conjunction with the Paris Exposition, and it was here that Lambert first saw men soaring aloft in balloons. So he returned to Paris in 1906, where he learned to become a pilot. [3]

In St Louis, he became one of the leading members of, what at that time, was considered a sport. Competing in many national events, he would often have his balloon filled by Laclede Gas at South 2nd St and Rutger St, and later at Chouteau and Newstead.

On one occasion, the wind took him over the mountains near Chattanooga and into northern Georgia where he was taken hostage by moonshiners, who thought he was a Revenue Agent.

Realizing he needed a field better suited for balloon ascensions, several sites were considered. One was on Olive, just beyond the city limit, and another was near Creve Couer Lake. A third location, north of downtown, between the river and North Broadway, was also a serious contender.

In 1910, the St Louis Aero Club leased a farm near Kinloch [4], and this would be the site of many aviation “firsts”. Kinloch Field would have the first aerial tower, and was the site of (some of) the first aerial photograph(s). [5]

Taking off from there, Teddy Roosevelt would be the first President to fly in a plane. [6]

In 1912, a plane took off from Kinloch Field carrying Albert Berry, who would make the first parachute jump from a plane (landing at Jefferson Barracks — just outside the city’s southern boundary — from an elevation of 1,500 feet).

Albert Lambert bought an airplane in 1911 from the Wright Brothers, and, becoming accomplished in this field, he began promoting St Louis in aviation circles. In 1920, he leased an additional 160 acres at $2000 a year. Buying the property in 1925, he spent his own money on improvements, and then offered it to the City of St Louis at the price he paid for the unimproved land. The City bought it in 1928, and “Lambert Field” became the first Municipal Airport in the country.

Albert Bond Lambert was able to pursue his many hobbies because of the wealth he inherited from his father’s company, Lambert Pharmaceutical. His father, Jordan Lambert, was a St Louis druggist who invented a product called Listerine. Now known as a mouthwash, it was originally marketed to sterilize medical equipment.

Editor’s notes:

a) John Sarkis is retired, residing in the St Louis Area. He posts regularly on the St Louis, Missouri. History, Landmarks and Vintage Photos Facebook page. All content is his Intellectual Property. Screwups are my fault. This essay is gently edited, mostly as denoted by parentheses.  Footnotes below are the editor’s.

b) ==>Can you imagine filling a balloon with natural gas to fly??.

c) ==>Lambert was the first major donor to Charles Lindbergh’s efforts for a non-stop trans-Atlantic flight, and the publicity helped LIndbergh raise quite a bit of money from St Louis.  His plane was named after the organization that Lambert helped found to help Lindbergh: The Spirit of St Louis.

Footnotes.

[1] In 1900 the Olympic Golf competition was a simple stroke play event.  In 1904, there was a 36-hole qualifier.  Sixty-four players went on to a single elimination competition, where Lambert was defeated in the quarter-finals.

[2] Contestants represented their various athletic associations and clubs.  Lambert was on the Trans-Mississippi Golf Association team. Golf teams had ten players each, and their score was the summation of all 10 players over the 2-round qualification.

Although golf returned as a medal sport in the 2016 Olympics – it had not been an event since 1904 – the team event has not returned.

[3] The 1904 Olympics were also held concurrent and alongside a World’s Fair: the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St Louis

[4] Kinloch is just Northwest of Saint Louis, between Ferguson and I-170. At the time, known as Kinloch Park. This area is now part of the city of Berkeley, although Kinloch (in a much reduced state) still exists as a municipality.

[5] First aerial photographs.  This is of course contested and subject to interpretation.  The first true aerial photograph was from a hot air balloon, by Frenchman Gaspar-Felix Tournachon, in the 1850s.
Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel successfully designed and launched a rocket with a camera aboard that took aerial photographs in 1897.

Aerial photographs were also being creatively taken from kites as early as 1888. And by birds about the same time.

Wilbur Wright is most often credited as taking the first aerial photographs from a plane, in 1909. He also made “moving pictures” at this time, while in Italy. Actually the shots were made by his passenger, an Italian military officer.

[6]  At the time, Roosevelt was former president – the flight was in 1910).

[Sources] [Another Source]