Thanks to Guest Editor Bob Woodling for help researching this page.


the register


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The New York Times, May 27, 1929, Gardner Race (Source: NYT via Woodling)
The New York Times, May 27, 1929, Gardner Race (Source: NYT via Woodling)



W.G. Shelton was signed in the Parks Airport Register three times. He was a Lambert Field, St. Louis-based pilot. Lambert Field was, and still is, on the Missouri side of the Mississippi River about 16 miles northwest of the site of the Parks Airport. He first appeared Parks on Friday March 14, 1930 at 1:20PM. He was solo in the Travel Air 2000 NC5421, S/N 510. He wrote no other information in the Register.

About a year before his signature in the Register, in May 1929, Shelton participated in the Gardner Trophy Race that was organized around Parks Airport as a hub. The mechanics of the Race were documented in The New York Times of May 27, 1929, right.

The Gardner Race began with a series of heats completed from various parts of the country, with Parks Airport as the finish line. The winners of the heats then competed in a final out and back race from East St. Louis to Indianapolis, IN and return. The ultimate winners and their winnings are tabulated at the link. You will learn that Shelton, competing in the Jacksonville Division (article, right), did not finish any part of the competition.

W. Gentry Shelton, 1929 (Source: Forden)


A few months after his Gardner Race experience, Shelton placed 22nd in the 1929 Ford Reliability Tour, which was held October 5-21. Photograph, left, is from chapter 9, page 109 of this Forden REFERENCE, which documented the 1929 Tour. The Aircraft Yearbook for 1930 corroborated Shelton's place and time.

In between, Shelton flew endurance flights and founded a short-lived air line, Jefferson Airways, Inc., that operated over routes mostly in the state of Missouri. Through Jefferson Airways, he was also an authorized sales agent for the Curtiss-Wright Flying Service in St. Louis.

His second landing at Parks Airport was between April 25-29, 1930 (he didn't identify an exact date in the Register). This time he flew the Lockheed Vega NC7973, S/N 32. Based at Lambert again, he entered no passenger or destination information. This Vega was one of the aircraft used to fly Jefferson Airways passengers, and it was the one he sold to Ruth Stewart.

In January, 1932, Shelton was peripherally involved in the air tragedy that took the life of Register pilot Ruth Stewart. Stewart and Debbie Stanford were scheduled to fly Stewart's Lockheed Vega (NC7973) from New York City to Buenos Aires, Argentina. Shelton served as their "guide" as they flew from Pittsburgh, PA to New York to begin their journey. The flight east across the Allegheny Mountains was a hazardous one, especially given the weather conditions at the time. Please direct your browser to Stewart's biography page for the outcome of their flight. Shelton's participation was documented in the Monroe News-Star (LA) of January 7, 1932.

Shelton's final signature in the Register appeared July 29, 1930. This time he flew the Curtiss Robin he identified as NC75H, Model C-1, S/N 444. again he cited no passengers or destination.

His participation in aviation dwindled from the mid-1930s. His father, W.G. Shelton, Sr., owned a lucrative business manufacturing and selling electrical machines for beauty salons (business registered on 9/16/1926). Picture the hair dryers, vibrators and electrical curlers represented in old photographs and cartoons. The link takes you to a 3D photograph of a hair curling machine. Shelton, Sr. invented a superior curler. His patent is at the link (PDF 275kB). This patent was for the individual hair curl elements. Old Shelton equipment can now be found onlne and sold to collectors of industrial steampunk.

Although the W.G. Shelton Company was diversified (into electrical drink mixers, e.g.) and moved to New York, Shelton, Jr. appears to have taken over as a manufacturing representative of its products. I found no connections to his flying life in the late 1930s. Rather, he and his wife, Helen, whom he married in 1932, were documented on Immigration forms traveling to Europe. Their stated business was "Manufacturing."

Shelton also landed once at the Davis-Monthan Airfield, Tucson, AZ. Please direct your browser to the link to review his primary biography, including additional biographical information, military service and U.S. Census data.