The Spartan College of Aeronautics and Technology is an aviation institute in Tulsa, Oklahoma that trains individuals in flight, aviation electronics, nondestructive testing, quality control, and aircraft maintenance. In 1928, a Tulsa oilman named William G. Skelly who was the owner of the Spartan Aircraft Company founded the Spartan aircraft school. The Spartan school was activated as a U.S. Army air corps facility on August 1, 1939, as an advanced civilian pilot training school to supplement the Air corps few flying training schools, The Air Force supplied several PT-17 Stearmans and a few P-40 Warhawks in order to provide military training for pilots. Air schools like Spartan College were pivotal in providing advanced training for individuals that wished to help in the war efforts, and it provided them with state of the art training to ready them for combat if needed.
Here at McFarlin special collections, we have a collection of photographs from the Spartan College of Aeronautics and technology that reveal history through black and white photography. The collection consists of 154 photographs that vary in sizes and contain a multitude of different content, many of the pilots in the planes or pictures of the pilots. Photography serves as a fantastic way to relive the past and provides context to the ideas that people have about previous generations.
Some remarkable photographs that were captured have been able to catch events unfold in real time because there is something much satisfying about a photograph when the content is organic and not staged. This is particular in one of the larger photographs in the collection which captures a pilot and another gentleman leaning against an airplane and looking on the map (See above). The tagline at the bottom says “the ‘Brass’ figures it out,” this is very relevant to the picture because you can see on the faces of the pilot and the other gentleman that they are working hard to solve a problem without knowing the picture is being taken.
There are many other fascinating pictures found in this collection which show significant growth in the College, and you can find pictures side by the side of how planes have changed and all the different planes that were used by the college. It also shows the use of advertising on the side of the Spartan planes that were written in big white writing along the body of the plane.
If you would like to come and visit the Spartan College of Aeronautics and Technology collection, you can come and visit us at McFarlin Library Special Collections of the 5th Floor. We are open Monday to Friday 8am-4.30pm, we look forward to seeing you!