WENDELL HOLSWORTH BROOKLEY
1896 -1934
 
  Wendell H. Brookley  
 
Wendell H. Brookley
Library of Congress collection
 

 
  Navy-Curtiss  
  This photo was autographed:
To my old instructor, Walter Lees, signed, W.H. Brookley
 

 
  Brookley  
       "I thought you might like to see the photo above, which I believe may show Wendell H. Brookley in the Curtiss CO-X biplane, at the 1923 Liberty Engine Builders Trophy Race, in St. Louis, Missouri, since he was Walter Lee's instructor. However, it appears that Wendell Brookley did not fly this airplane in the air race. As you may know, as it was withdrawn from the air race, after the United States Navy objected to its conversion, before the air race, from a one-seat XPW-8 biplane to a two-seat biplane.
     I read that this airplane was previously used, in 1923, by United States Army Lieutenant Russell Lowell Maughan, for two attempted transcontinental flights across the United States of America.
     I also obtained another photo from this air race, by the way, of the Vought UO-1, and have used it, along with the information about the air race entries that I found in a newspaper article on your web site, for a web page about the air race, which is at http://roynagl.topcities.com/liberty.htm As I am just now piecing together the facts about the air race, I would welcome any information about its results, if you are aware of them, and I am particularly interested in who won this air race, though I do know who came in third and fourth place!
"
Photo and text courtesy of Roy Nagl, 2-25-04
Ancient Aviators Website
 

 
 
BIOGRAPHICAL NOTES
via email from David Vaughn, 7-27-09
Dear Mr. Cooper,
     I was pleasantly surprised to find your web site on Wendell H. Brookley. My paternal grandmother Opal Rhetta Brookley Vaughan was his older sister and as a child growing up in Nebraska I heard her tell stories of her younger brother. The "H" in his name is his mother's maiden name. Alice Holzworth was one of three children of Nebraska homesteader Gotleib Holzworth farm near Hastings (juanita) Nebraska.
     I know very little about Wendell Brookley and only tonight, on a lark, looked to find evidence that Brookley Army Air Base (later Brookley AFB) was named after him. (as my grandmother had always told us) I know I have photographs of him as a young man in a scrapbook of family photos I inherited a couple of years ago. I must go find that scrapbook.
Sincerely,
David Vaughan
3431 Monte Vista Blvd. NE
Albuquerque, NM 87106
 

 
 
ONLINE RESOURCES
     If you search for "Wendel H. Brookley", using the Google search engine, (3-23-04), you will find just five links, including this website. Perhaps the most helpful is the following.
 

 
 
Wendell Holsworth Brookley
Captain, United States Army Air Service
     This page, which Michael Patterson just added, (August 22, 2004), to his Arlington National Cemetery website, offers a very complete and interesting biography of Wendel. In addition, it reports the activities of many of his descendents in honoring his memory. You can access the page by clicking on the title above.
 

 
 
1923 SAINT LOUIS INTERNATIONAL AIR MEET
     This page on Roy Nagl's website offers a number of important facts regarding Brookley's career. You can access it by clicking on the title above.
 

 
 
REQUEST FOR INFORMATION - 1
     On August 31, 2001, I received an email from Brian Garry. He explained that he had married Wendell's grandaughter and was seeking more information on her grandfather's career. We would both appreciate any information on this pioneer aviator you would care to submit. Any help that you can offer will be greatly appreciated.
 

 
 
REQUEST FOR INFORMATION - 2
via email from John Shaw, 5-16-08
Dear Sir:      My mother, who is now 86 years old is a well known artist in Mobile, Alabama. Back in the 50's she painted a large portrait of Capt. Brookley, standing by his biplane. That portrait hung over the mantle in the officers' club at Brookley AFB for years. When Brookley AFB was shut down in the late 60's, the University of South Alabama purchased some of the property, including the officers club. My mother would like to know what became of that portrait. It was one of her best works. We have contacted the university, but they have no record of it. Would you happen to know of any leads that could provide us more information as to the whereabouts of this painting?
Thank you very much.
John Shaw
Magnolia Springs, Alabama
Mother: Jane Shaw
Editor's Note: If you can us with information regarding the fate of this portrait, please contact me. I will forward your message to John and his mother.
 

 
 
RECOMMENDED READING
 
 
National Air Tour
 
  Product Details
Softbound, 202 pgs., 350+ B&W photos, 8"x 11"
Publisher: Aviation Foundation of America ,Inc.
List Price: $19.95
"1925-1931. Forden. This is the full history of the Ford Reliability Tour, which was an efficiency contest held every year from 1925 through 1931. Initially called the Commercial Airplane Reliability Tour, they were subsequently promoted as "The Commercial Airplane Reliability Tour for the Edsel B. Ford Trophy", sometimes shortened to the Ford Reliability Tour and later, the National Air Tour. The tour gave airplane builders an opportunity to take their latest models around the country in a well-publicized contest also meant to convince the man on the ground he should take to the air."
For more information and to order the book, click on:
Ford Air Tours
 

 
 
 
  Wendell H. Brookley was Regular Army, veteran of the Great War, still a First Lieutenant when he flew in the 1929 tour. Brookley served with the test group at McCook Field, instructed at Brooks and Kelly.
     On February 28, 1934, now a Captain and assigned to Bolling Field, at Washington, Brookley was en route from Middletown, Pennsylbania to Bolting, flying a Douglas BT2-B biplane. This 1931 Basic Trainer was much like the Obvservation ship he'd flown in 1929 except that in place of the old Liberty it was updated with a radial engine and a new kind of propeller.
     The prop came apart, the ariplane went out of control, and while Brookley's companion got out in time, Brookley jumped too late: a good man gone to his reward, done in by the newfangled engine and prop.
Extract from the book featured above. You may read an online version by clicking on:
The Ford Reliability Tours Online
 

 
  Editor's Note:
If you have any more information on this pioneer aviator
please contact me.
E-mail to Ralph Cooper
 

 
 
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