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Bernard L. Whelan Collection

Identifier: UASC-034

Scope and Contents

Personal papers, photographs and books of early aviator Bernard L. Whelan. Also inlcudes a typed manuscript of Whelan's diary titled "My Life is in Your Hands".


  • Creation: 1910-1982


The Collection is open and available to the public for research. The materials in this collection are non-circulating.


The materials in this collection may be protected by copyright law (Title 17, U.S. Code). The materials are available for personal, educational, and scholarly use. It is the responsibility of the researcher to locate and obtain permission from the copyright owner or his or her heirs for any other use, such as reproduction and publication.

Biographical Note

Bernard Whelan became involved with aviation as a young man while employed as a sales person with the National Cash Register Company. As a resident of Dayton, Whelan was familiar with the Wright Brothers and their success as pioneers in powered flight. He took flight training from the Simms Station Flying School in the Spring of 1913 with Oscar Brindley, Jr. as his instructor. Whelan obtained pilot license number 247 on July 16, 1913, on a Wright Model "B".

Considered one of the "Early Birds" of aviation, Whelan is part of a very select group of individuals who "piloted a glider, gas balloon, or airplane, prior to December 17, 1916". In addition to achieving his pilot's license in 1913, Whelan worked as an exhibition flier, an instructor in the Army Air Corps in 1917 and a test pilot with the former Dayton-Wright Company. Whelan formed a partnership with Howard Rhinehart, another early aviator, resulting in one of the earliest charter flight services named the Rhinehart-Whelan Company. They operated their business until Whelan was hired as a test pilot for the Pratt & Whitney division of United Aircraft in 1928.

Whelan made his way through the ranks at United Aircraft as a manager of the airport division, general manager of the Sikorsky aircraft division and retiring as Vice-President of United Aircraft in 1959. He is considered a leader in the testing and development of both fixed wing and rotary wing aircraft. Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, on November 19, 1890, Whelan moved with his family moved to Dayton where he later attended St. Mary's College, now the University of Dayton. Bernard Whelan died at age 92 in Delray Beach, FL in March 1983


1 Linear Feet

Language of Materials


Related Materials

In 1967, Bernard L. Whelan was interviewed for the Wright Brothers - Charles F. Kettering Oral History Project. The transcript can be found here:

Guide to the Bernard L. Whelan Collection
Kristina Klepacz
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the University Libraries Repository

300 College Park Dr.
Dayton Ohio 45469-1360