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Spartan – Tulsa’s Aviation Giant

Nowhere has Oklahoma’s rich flying heritage flowered more brilliantly than in Tulsa. According to historian Carl E. Gregory, the city’s first airport opened in 1911 to support the booming oil industry. Within a few years, Tulsans pioneered American interstate air shipping. By the end of the 1920s, T-town boasted four airports and two aircraft manufacturers, as well as the Spartan Aviation Company’s new pilot training facility.

Now the Spartan College of Aeronautics and Technology, the company has stood astride Tulsa’s aviation history since oil titan William G. Skelly founded it in 1928 to help expand Skelly Oil petroleum markets. Since then, the company has trained more than 100,000 pilots and technicians, in recent years for the aerospace industry. Skelly also oversaw the manufacturer of numerous aircraft, as did J. Paul Getty when his company took over Spartan prior to World War 2.

Like Phillips Petroleum and other Oklahoma companies, Spartan played a vital role in winning history’s most catastrophic conflict. When war came, Getty exerted direct managerial control over the organization. He expanded manufacturing of whole aircraft as well as subassemblies for legendary fighting machines like the B-17 Flying Fortress, B-24 Liberator, and P-38 Lightning. Spartan trained British pilots who flew in the Battle of Britain, and Americans who flew in the Doolittle Raid and elsewhere. After the war, the company built tens of thousands of homes in booming Tulsa. Spartan’s training program has continued to grow, for nearly a century.


The above article is a bonus to the fascinating historical content found within our book

Oklahomans Vol 2 :

Statehood - 2020s

which can be purchased HERE.

View the inspiring 2-minute preview video HERE.

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