Pictured above are the years 1968, 1971, 1987,
and 2002 in NAC history. As you read this, the neighborhood around us is changing.
The Lima Lima Flight Team
The 1960s and 70s was a time when aviation in the United States was experiencing the growth
and demand for pilots that came with the maturation of the jet age. The spirit of comarderie in things aviaition very
much manifested itself in the members of the Businessman's Flying Club, Naper Aero, and what grew out of those guys and gals
sharing their enthusiasm. One legacy of those times that survives today is the Lima Lima Flight Team. Known as
the world's only six-airplane civilian formation aerobatic team and of the founding members; Gene Martin, Lou Drendel, Bill
Cherwin, and Rick Gretz were Naper Aero residents. Although no longer "based" at Naper Aero, we should note that
the team name eminates from the close association with LL10. How cool is that?
As you see elsewhere on
this page, Lou Drendel has graciously shared his knowledge and experiences. Lou now lives in Venice, Florida and is
an accomplished aviation artist and writer. Any pilot should want to visit his webiste and pick up a book or two to
feed their imagination. Lou recorded the history of the Lima Lima Flight Team as he experienced it as a flying team
member from its beginnings until 2003 in his book, The Lima Lima Flight Team. Click on the artwork below
to go to Lou Drendel's website.
Lost Airports of Chicago
For a larger picture of aviation history around Naper Aero, one has to read Nicholas
Selig's book, Lost Airports of Chicago. Nick and Suzette Selig are pilots, flight instructors and long time residents
of Naper Aero. Although many of the airfields are gone that once dotted the Chicagoland area, their significance is
not lost in Nick's book. Had so many fledgling pilots not had access to training they needed to later become military
aviators, the outcome of World War II may have been different, never mind the development of post-war America
as a world leader. To obtain a copy of the book, go to sites such as Amazon or Google Books. Brick and mortar
stores such as Books-a-Million should have copies, too.
Forgotten Chicago Airfields
Nick's sequel book, Forgotten Chicago Airfields, explores the subject of Chicago airfields
come and gone (and those still here) with specfic stories of how they came to exist and be used.
The beginnings of Naper Aero as a fly-in
community are closely tied to, and maybe preceded by, the creation of flying clubs on the field. Lou Drendel was an
early flying club member on the field and later one of Naper Aero's first residents. Drendel writes:
The BFC (Businessmen’s Flying Club) was founded by Vern Finzer at Naper Aero
Club Field. Naper Aero was started in 1956 by Vern, who was a UAL Captain, Harold White, who was owner and publisher of The
Naperville Sun, and Al Beidelman, who was Naperville Building Commissioner. Aero Drive was the only street and there were
not more than a dozen homes when I started flying there in 1964. There was no community hangar, and the runway was semi-improved.
The BFC had a Cub, a Cessna 120, and 15 members. I was checked out in the Cub by Mel Finzer and in the 120 by Vern. I got
my Private License the following summer in the 120.
In an article written
by Drendel titled, "Remembering Vern" he notes the next evolution of Naper Aero into the community we know today:
Vern [Finzer] was a visionary. He always wanted the airport to grow, but the price of the Book
farm was always just a little bit out of the reach of Vern and partners Harold White and Al Beidelman. No one was happier
to see Harold Moser and Ralph Smykal show an interest in the further development of Naper Aero than Harold and Vern, and when
the two developers bought the Book farm, Naper Aero was sold to the developers, with the stipulation that Vern would remain
as airport manager. It was an appropriate condition, since Vern had spent a great deal of his time, beginning in 1956, making
sure that Naper Aero remained a viable.....and vital.....general aviation airport
farm included the land where Stearman, Skylane, and Chandelle Drives (and their respective taxiways) now exist.
Click on the two links below to read the complete text of Drendel's articles from which the above information
BFC 1964 to 1970