Naper Aero History

In 1953, the Naper Aero Club was organized by a small group of pilots who first leased land on the Fender Farm on South Washington Street. In 1957 the current location at Route 59 and 83rd Street was officially opened for use by half a dozen planes. In 1982, some of the founding members sold shares to the Macom Corporation which agreed to develop land east of the north-south runway for pilots and other aviation-oriented people. Most homes in our community were built after 1987. SOURCE: Naperville Heritage Society






Neighborhood Development 
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


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
Book 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 was cited

BFC 1964 to 1970

Remembering Vern