Our next Kansas aviator is Major Reed McKinley Chambers, born August 18, 1894 at Onaga, Kansas.  There seems to have been a sense of adventure in him; he joined the National Guard in 1914 which put him in the Mexican Border Campaign of 1916.

He transferred into the Army Signal corps as an aviator in 1917.  He served in the 94th Aero Pursuit Squadron, along with Eddie Rickenbacker, who would later be a business partner.  Chambers qualified as an ace with seven victories against six airplanes and a balloon.  He would received the Distinguished Service Cross with Oak Leaf Clusters for repeatedly going against the enemy, often against superior numbers.

In his post-war life he formed Florida Airways with Rickenbacker, a company that won a Federal airmail contract but suffered several reversals.  Afterwards he formed the United States Aircraft Insurance Group, which saw far more success.

As a co-pilot in 1968, he broke the sound barrier.

Chambers passed away on January 16, 1972 while on his fishing boat near the Virgin Islands.  He was buried at sea.

Several websites have additional information about Chambers, including:  http://www.theaerodrome.com/aces/usa/chambers2.php

Blair Tarr is the Museum Curator of the Kansas State Historical Society. He oversees the three-dimensional collections of the Society, but has special interests in the Civil War, Wichita-made Valentine diners, and Leavenworth's Abernathy Furniture. In the last few years he has also done a lot of cramming on The Great War. He is a past president of the Kansas Museums Association and the Civil War Round Tables of both Kansas City and Eastern Kansas. He is currently a board member of the Heritage League of Greater Kansas City.