“" ... We are only pioneers, but we are pioneers with a great idea. Sometime in future centuries, the whole world will be revolutionized by that idea. Then it will know the value of the hope and the thrill we feel as our aero planes rise from the earth, pass through the clouds, and fly high in the clear upper air." -- Art “Bird Boy” Smith”
In 1927 Frederick Machesney and his wife Mae moved North from the small farming town of Kewanee, Illinois to Rockford to begin the operation of a small regional airfield. Over the course of the next fifty years Machesney's story would help to shape the development and thus the history of air travel in his local community and throughout the upper Midwest. By the time he retired in the late 1970s, his field was recognized as the oldest existent single operator airport in the country.
Machesney was a skilled airman and a community leader, a man with a strong vision and the ambition to bring it to life. In his fifty years as a central figure in Rockford aviation, Machesney trained countless pilots, managed multiple airfields, helped promote local growth, served as a key local aviation leader during WWII, and gained the respect of countless of his fellow citizens.
This is his story - as we are uncovering it. Through Newspaper articles, photographs, a smattering of written accounts and conversations with those who had the privileged of knowing him. Machesney's story is yet unwritten, but we are undertaking this project to change that. The Machesney Project is a chronicle of our research process, a book in the making. Please join us as we uncover the life and history of this pioneering man.