Jack Vilas  
  Jack Vilas
Collection of Ellie Wright, 4-14-08

     If you search the net for "Jack Vilas +aviation", using Google, (5-31-08), you will find about 205 links. Among the most helpful is the following:

     This website offers a number of interesting features including; Who We Are, What's New, Hall of Fame, Nominations and Forward in Flight, the History of Aviation in Wisconsin, a book which may be purchased in their "Shop.". To see a listing of all of the aviators who are honored in the "Hall of Fame," just click on:
Hall of Fame

     You will find that Jack Vilas was inducted in the year 2000, Pioneer. You can read his biography by clicking on his name

My Life
  My Life To My Children by Jack Vilas is a reprinted memoir from 1929. It was originally written only for his children and close friends, and was not available to the general public until now.

Enjoy devilish boyhood pranks and delightful descriptions of “shackers” from northern Wisconsin nearly one hundred years ago. As a graduate pilot from the Glenn Hammond Curtiss Flight School, Vilas earned Hydroplane Pilot License #6 from the American Aero Society. Six weeks later, he was the first person to attempt and complete a 53-mile flight across Lake Michigan. With no compass or flight instruments, he successfully flew a 75-horsepowered Curtiss Flying Boat from St. Joseph, Michigan to Grant Park, Illinois, in 1913.

After railing his flying boat to northern Wisconsin in 1915, he took Chief Forester Edward Griffith for a ride to demonstrate how easy it was to spot forest fires by air. This led to an official appointment by the Wisconsin Conservation Commission for Vilas to become the first flying fire warden in the entire world. The “Wisconsin Plan” soon became a vital part of fighting wildfires in forested countries around the globe. Vilas flew his surveillance missions from the forestry headquarters at Trout Lake in Boulder Junction for the salary of “many thanks.”

Purposefully edited for a youthful audience and beyond, this book contains footnote descriptions of unfamiliar 20th-century terms and background information on historic pioneer aviators who Vilas knew. The Afterward contains a Vilas timetable, a listing of historic markers dedicated to him and his accomplishments after the memoir was written. My Life To My Children is an entertaining MUST READ for lovers of pioneer aviation and local northern Wisconsin history.
Product Details
Soft cover: perfect bound, 235 pages, 21 original newspaper clippings, 35 photographs.
Published: August 1, 2007;
Price: $21.95
ISBN: 978-09771137-2-9
Order at: Rustic Books LLC or bring this ad to your local book store.

My Life
My Life--to My Children.

by Jack Vilas
Product Details
List Price: $45.00
  Book Description:
Privately printed, Jack Vilas, 1934. Hardback, no dust jacket. Deep maroon cover with gold lettering on the cover. Paper title on spine has been removed. Lots of photographs. Pages are browning, but still a very nice copy. End pages quite darkening. Underlining on the last page. This is a fascinating account of a fascinating life, written for his children and dedicated to Ariel, Jack and Sue. Bookseller Inventory #R3-56
Bookseller: Dorothy Eady Brown (Birmingham, AL, U.S.A.)

  Book Found
Dear Ralph,
     Thank you for the valuable information you shared with me, because the book is now mine! I was in northern Wisconsin at the Boulder Junction History Day this past weekend when a gentleman had a petition going hoping to see how much interest there would be in a Jack Vilas Day. (This is in Vilas County by the way.) There is a State historical marker at Trout Lake near where we were that details the forest fire patrol plane of Jack Vilas. Anyway, this elderly gentleman said, "With all the water around here wouldn't it be neat to have an antique pontoon plane fly-in to honor Jack Vilas?" I'm starting to gather information to help him literally get it off the ground.
     Anyway, I will keep your e-mail and address so I can make a copy of the book cover. I understand that it is spotted and worn but maybe those can be touched up in your computer.
Let's keep in touch.
Mary J. Schueller
PS Check out my Rustic Books website

  The Water Flier: A Tribute To Jack Vilas,
Pioneer Aviator

Your school, museum, local theater, historical society or organization can make arrangements for a performance or the script for a one-person, one-act play entitled The Water Flier: A Tribute to Jack Vilas, Pioneer Aviator.

Jack Vilas Day  
  The play highlights important events in the personal life of Jack Vilas in addition to: his lessons at the Glenn Curtiss Flight School, his hydroplane pilots' license test, his trip over Lake Michigan in 1913, and his forest fire surveillance trips over northern Wisconsin in his Curtiss Flying Boat in 1915.

The performance is 45 minutes long and comes with suggested music and a playbill. Please contact the playwright for royalty fees at: 262-628-9331 or

To order The Water Flier: A Tribute To Jack Vilas, Pioneer Aviator please click here.

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