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From the Scrapbooks: The Birdmen Club

Link - Posted by David on December 17, 2021 @ 6:00 am in

THIS Holiday Season we’re delving into a pair of scrapbooks that were created in the late 20’s and early 30’s by an industrious youth, Robert A. O’Neil, with a keen interest in all things aviation. The books contain clippings, photos and articles from various aviation pulps as well as other magazines. What has been assembled is a treasure trove of information on planes and aces of WWI.

Like many in the late 20’s and early 30’s, Robert O’Neil was fascinated with aviation and as such, a large part of both volumes of his scrapbooks is taken up with a cataloging of the many different types of planes. But amongst all the planes and air race flyers and info on Aces are some surprising items.

Turning the page from the George Bruce letter we find a membership card and folded note from the Birdmen club!

The Birdman Club was run by Air Trails and started right from their first issue in October 1928. It was a great brotherhood of those who roam the high spaces of the air, in either fact or fancy. It was for professional and amateur flyers, and air fans who have yet to make their first flight. All were banded together in the cause of American aviation.

It was not necessary to own a plane or to be actively engaged in some branch of aviation to join the club. The Birdmen band was divided into three classes. These were: Class A: those who have piloted planes; Class B: those who have been in the air but are not pilots; and Class C: those who have not yet been aloft, but who are interested in flying and expect to go up in an airplane at the first opportunity. Readers who were applying for membership were asked to state which class they would be in.

Membership in the Birdmen Club was absolutely free to all readers of Air Trails. Prospective members only had to fill out and send in the coupon from the Birdmen Club pages in any issue of Air Trails and their membership card would be sent to them.

For those who desired a Birdmen club emblem—a handsome blue-and-gold wings pin, could be obtained from the secretary for twenty-five cents in stamps or coin.

All Birdmen were afforded the same privileges regardless of their class. All members were welcome to write in and use the Birdmen Club pages to share stories and comments on those published in the magazine; the could list themselves as someone looking to be a pen pal to a like minded reader, or list stuff for sale or trade.

Unfolding the note…

The card is a very pale blue color. For some reason he had trimmed his card down—and did a poor job of it considering his razor like precision at cutting out other items he had pasted down.

Robert reapplied for membership in the Birdmen Club in 1931. I couldn’t say why. His class had not changed, he was still Class B. Maybe he felt poorly about butchering his original card so, who knows. Either way, he did reapply and was presented with another card in 1931.

At this time he received two letters from the Secretary of the Birdmen on Air Trails stationary which he also included in his scrapbook.

The first was the letter that came with his new card…

the other in response to inquiring about the blue-and-gold wings of the club.
(Sadly, he did not paste the wings into the scrapbooks.)

The Birdmen Club officially ran until the end of the magazine with the October 1931 issue. The Bill Barnes magazine assumed it’s place on the newsstand in February 1932 and it had it’s own club—The Air Adventurers!


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