Made in K. C., USA

J. A. McCallum and his aeroplane

The fourth annual Kansas City Automobile Dealers' Association auto show was about to kick off at the Convention Hall in late February 1910. “The crowds are sure to come, because this motor entertainment is generally recognized as the greatest automobile trade entertainment in the West,” reported the Kansas City Journal. The show would be open from 11:00 a.m. through 11:00 p.m., and Thursday evening was designated as “society and military night” with “seventy-three commissioned officers from Fort Leavenworth, in full regimental uniforms” in attendance.

The hall was decked out in forest scenery, with “a hundred or more tall, slender trees, fresh with green foliage and pink with blossoms” lining the walls, and a “sky of night was drawn over the arena with illusive lighting arrangements.” The decorations were noteworthy, but most impressive by far was the newest addition to the hall that year. Hovering in mid-air over the visitors would be an aeroplane - one designed and built in Kansas City.

Kansas Citian J. A. McCallum, president of the Midland Electric Company and now president of the McCallum Aeroplane Manufacturing Company, had created “a biplane made in Kansas City that is of greater proportions than either the Curtiss or Wright machines.” The aeroplane was designed and built at the McCallum Electric Company headquarters inside the Gibraltar building at 8th & Wyandotte.

Kansas City was proud of its auto show, which included over 80 different makes, ranging from the under-$550 Brush Runabout to the Overland at around $1,500, to the Ramblers, Pope-Hartfords, White steamers, Palmer-Singers, and Locomobiles at $3,000 and up. Exhibitors from the Vesta Battery Company to the Fireless Cooker Company to Excelsior Supply would be on hand, as well. Forty-eight spaces in the exhibition hall were reserved for Kansas City association members alone.

Kansas City was equally proud of its newest inventor and invention. McCallum, the Journal reported, had carefully studied all the successful flying machines of Europe and America before designing his own. “Its chief improvement over other ships,” reported the paper, “is the light weight of it. The McCallum aeroplane will weigh only 550 pounds, being built of Oregon spruce, laminated - that is, glued together. This gives flexibility in the air. Machines competing in contests at Los Angeles and other aviation meets weigh over 1,000 pounds.”

The aeroplane was complete, the local news reported, with the exception of the engine, which was still “under construction in the East,” most likely at the Elbridge Engine Company in Rochester, NY. McCallum expected the engine to arrive by mid-March, “after which time Mr. McCallum will make trial flights in the suburbs of Kansas City.” McCallum did successfully fly his invention at the “secret” location he and Evans leased for their early tests and later made successful flights at the air field at Overland Park.

Next: Evans Flies 30 Miles at Overland Park