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Several newspaper articles on W. A. Yackey -- individual credits follow each article

Wilfred Anthony (Tony) Yackey

Wilfred A. Yackey led an adventurous lifestyle. Prior to World War One he was a professional auto racer.  In 1914 he enlisted and served as a combat pilot in the Italian Air Force.  When the United States entered into World War One in 1917, he transferred to the US forces and continued flying combat missions.  The French government awarded him the decoration "Croix de Guerre" for valor.

After the end of the war he moved to Maywood and started the Yackey Aircraft Company whose headquarters were at Checkerboard Field.  With his war record he was quite a local celebrity.  His company was a early pioneer in the design of monoplanes.

Mr. Yackey ran the Checkerboard Field as well as his company with enthusiasm.  When the US government changed government regulations regarding the use of public facilities with private air mail contractors Mr. Yackey flew to Saint Louis in 1927 for discussions with the chief pilot of the Robertson Aircraft Company, Charles Lindbergh.  The Robertson Aircraft Company serviced the air mail contract for the Chicago to Saint Louis route.  Yackey's effort might have eventually persuaded Lindbergh to use Maywood’s air field in some capacity.  However, fate intervened.

On October 4, 1927, Yackey was performing acrobatics at Checkerboard Field.  Local residents watched in amazement as he flew his sleek silver monoplane of his own design through maneuver after maneuver. During a steep dive one of his plane's wings snapped off and he fatally crashed.

With the tragic death of Wilfred Yackey the efforts to keep Checkerboard Field in service faded away.

The source for this information is:

The following newspaper clippings were sent from Harold H. Yackey, Jr. of Citrus Heights, California.  He is the son of Harold H. Yackey, Sr.  Harold Sr. was the brother of Wilfred.  These articles were found in an old family photo album.

We thank Harold H Yackey, Jr. for his contribution in sending us this material.

From Chicago Daily News, October 5, 1927


W. A. Yackey Crashes to Death Making Sure of Plane Before Sale.

The crumpling wing of an airplane of his own manufacture late yesterday cut short the career of one of Chicago's pioneers in commercial aviation when Wilfred A. (Tony) Yackey plunged to his death while making a test flight near his factory in Maywood.

An investigation to be opened today by Coroner Wolfe was expected to reveal that Yackey met his death as a result of his insistence in testing all planes turned out by his plant, so that there would be no doubt of their safety when placed in the hands of purchasers.

Yackey, veteran of world war flyer and widely known as a designer and builder of commercial aircraft, had taken the latest model of the Yackey monoplane for its final test flight following completion of some slight changes and adjustments.  While making a steep bank at a height of about 500 feet half of the wing crumpled and the ship dived, bursting into flames as it hit the ground within twenty feet of the county highway warehouse at 1st Avenue and Roosevelt Road.

Had Severe Tests.

The monoplane had been given severe tests by two other pilots before Yackey flew to his death.  The first had been made by Walter J. Addems, assistant manager of the Yackey company, and the second by Robert L Gest, inspector of airplanes for the air branch of the commerce.  The plane had performed admirably in both flights.

The monoplane in which Yackey was killed had been flown to fifth place in the class A air derby from New York to Spokane last month by K. K. Campbell of Moline, Ill., who purchased the plane from the plane from the Yackey company just before the race.  Campbell brought the ship back last week for adjustment after the long flight, and it was in the final tests that the tragedy occurred.

Yackey had completed plans for the enlargement of his factory to take care of the ever-increasing demand for his type of plane.  A number of orders for planes were on hand, enough to keep the plant going at top speed all winter.

Workmen Fight Blaze.

The body of the pilot was badly burned in the wreckage of the plane.  A group of workmen near by, led by William J. Bonn and James Macek, of the county warehouse, formed a bucket brigade and attempted to rescue Yackey.

Dozens of convalescent war veterans, sunning themselves on the porches of the Edward J. Hines hospital, less than a mile away, also witnessed the crash.

Yackey, who served as a flying instructor during the war, had been an automobile racer previous to 1917, when he entered the ground school a the University of Illinois.  After leaving the service he became an airmail pilot, with Chicago as his headquarters.  While at this work he became an intimate friend of Lindbergh, then in the air-mail service.  Yackey was said to be one of the first aviators to offer "five dollar rides" to the public and his flights were invariably free of mishaps.

He was 38 years old and lived with his wife, the former Olive Koken of St. Louis, at 1918 9th Avenue, Maywood.

From a St. Louis newspaper (probably the Post-Dispatch), October 5, 1927


Body of Noted Flyer Will Be Brought Here for Burial.

CHICAGO, Oct 5--(Universal Service.)--Wilfred A. Yackey, one of the best known pilots in America, was burned to death here late yesterday, when a plane which was making its maiden flight, burst into flames and crashed to the earth.  The plane was only 200 feet in the air, when the accident occurred.

According to witnesses at the Maywood Checkerboard Field, operated by Yackey, the pilot entered the two-seated biplane and started on a test trip.  He had been in the air but a few minutes when there was a roar.  James H. McGuin, employed in the county warehouse near the field looked up and saw the flames licking the wings of the plane, then turn upside down and crash to the earth.  A score of men rushed to the wreckage, but were kept from rescue by the flames.

After firemen had extinguished the blaze, Yackey's body was found burned beyond recognition.

Yackey was a war ace and one of the best known commercial pilots of the country.  He was the owner of the Yackey Aircraft Corporation of America and designed the plane in which he met his death.


Father Leaves for Chicago

Wilfred A Yackey, 4222 Flora boulevard, secretary of the ST. Louis Cooperage Company, is father of the aviator.  His brother, Carl F. Yackey, 424 Filmore street, and his brother-in-law, Walter Koken, president of the Koken Barber Supply Company left for Chicago last night to bring the body to St. Louis for burial.

From unknown newspaper of St. Louis, Missouri, October 5, 1927

Former St. Louisan Dies in Plane Crash

CHICAGO, Oct 5--A Coroner's jury of aviators was assembled here today to investigate the death of Wilfred A. Yackey, World War flying ace, commercial aviator and friend of Col. Charles A. Lindbergh, who was killed late yester when his plane burst into flames.

Witnesses said that Yackey, who was testing a new airplane, had been in the air only a few minutes when a wing became dislodged.  Sheets of flame enveloped the aircraft which fell like a plummet.

Wilfred A Yackey is a brother of Carl F. Yackey, 424 Filmore Street, and formerly lived in St. Louis  Burial will be here,


From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 5, 1927


Wilfred A. Yackey, 37,
Killed on Chicago Field
After Plane Plunged 500
Feet on First Trip.

CHICAGO, Oct. 5--Wilfred A. Yackey, president of the Yackey Aircraft Corporation of Chicago, was burned to death yesterday afternoon when a Whirlwind two-seated biplane of his own construction fell from a height of 500 feet and landed in flames near the Maywood air mail field.  The plane was making its maiden flight when a wing collapsed after it had been in the air for 15 minutes.

A former air mail pilot on the Chicago-St. Louis route and a companion of Col. Charles. A. Lindbergh in the service.  Yackey was a native St. Louisan.  He was the son of W. A. Yackey of 4222 Flora boulevard.  His widow, the former Miss Olive Koken, is a sister of Walter Koken, president of the Koken Barber Supply Co.

Yackey, who was 37 years old, had been active in aviation in Chicago since the close of the World War.  During the war he served with the Italian air forces and was awarded the Croix de Guerre by France.

After his marriage six years ago, Mrs. Yackey helped to finance expansion of his aviation activities and his corporation now is believed to be worth about $250,000.  Besides manufacturing planes he conducted an aviation school at the Maywood field.

A brother, Carl F. Yackey of 424 Filmore street, and Walter Koken, a brother-in-law, left last night for Chicago to bring the body back to St. Louis for burial.


Funeral services for Wilfred A. Yackey, former mail pilot and world war ace, killed Tuesday in an airplane crash in Maywood, were held last night  in undertaking rooms at 600 Lake street, Maywood.  The coffin was covered with floral wreaths sent by friends and aviators throughout the country.  The body will be taken to St. Louis for burial.

Mystery surrounding the accident was cleared by the testimony of Henry Johnson of Elmhurst, a mechanic, who had been working on Yackey's plane.  He testified that the right wing had been unsteady and that he installed an iron joint to strengthen it.  This joint apparently was wrenched loose by exhaustive tests of the craft imposed by Yackey, according to witnesses.


From the Globe-Democrat. October 4, 1927, pages 1 and 2

Tony Yackey, Former St. Louisan, Killed When Plane Crashes

Chicago Aircraft Builder, Friend of Lindbergh, Dies In 300-Foot Fall

CHICAGO, ILL, October 4--Wilfred A. (Tony) Yackey Jr., president of the Yackey Aircraft Corporation, a personal friend of Col. Charles A. Lindbergh and a pioneer in Chicago commercial aviation, was killed this afternoon when the wings of a plane of his manufacture collapsed as he was flying 300 feet above the county warehouse at Roosevelt and First avenue, Maywood.

Yackey was a son of W. A. Yackey, 422 Flora boulevard, St. Louis.

The plane, which had undergone a severe test several weeks ago when it was flown from New York to Spokane, finishing sixth in the cross-country air derby, fell into the warehouse yard, narrowly missing a group of workmen.  It burst into flames immediately and the wreckage, except the metal parts, was destroyed.

Forming a bucket brigade, the workmen tried to extinguish the fire and get to the body of the pilot.  It was not until after the Maywood Fire Department, whose members had witnessed the fall from their headquarters, arrived to assist that these effort were successful.  Physicians were called, but Yackey was dead.  His skull had bee crushed in the fall.

Yackey was one of the foremost proponents of safety in commercial flying.  Several months ago, after a series of deaths had been caused in the Chicago district by plane crashes, he was called before a special Coroner's jury as an expert witness.  He recommended strict supervision of planes and high qualifications for pilots.  The son of a St. Louis business man, Yackey was a member during the ware of the Italian flying forces and later of the American Army.  Just before the armistice he was wounded in an air battle.  The French awarded him the Croix de Guerre.

At the close of the war he came to Chicago and was said to have been the first to sell rides to passengers.  Six years ago he married Miss Olive Koken of St. Louis, a sister of the head of the Koken Barber Supply Company.  Mrs. Yackey backed him in his plans for a great airport and manufacturing concern and the plant has an estimated worth of $250,000.  Yackey was 37 and has been active in American Legion work.

When Col. Lindbergh returned to St. Louis after his transoceanic flight, Yackey flew there and extended him an invitation to visit Chicago.  It was recalled that at times in his career Lindbergh had flown planes for Yackey organization as a commercial proposition.


Yackey's brother, Carl F. Yackey, 424 Filmore street, and Walter Koken, president of the Koken Barber supply Company, a brother-in-law, left for Chicago last night to bring the body here for burial.  Yackey's father is secretary of the St. Louis Cooperage Company.

When Yackey returned home after his discharge from military service he was a pilot for a time in the government air mail service.  While in the air mail service he became acquainted with Charles A. Lindbergh, trans-Atlantic flyer.  The two became friends.

Yackey brought a fleet of airplanes to St. Louis on the day of the big reception to Lindbergh, it was stated last night.

The source for this information is:

Last Modified:  07/12/2006