Age: 56 years, 15 days
WALTER LOUIS THIELMAN
DOB: October 16, 1903
Beecher, IL USA
DOD: October 31, 1959
Richton Park, IL USA
Son of Henry F. and Minnie K. (nee Bielfeldt) Thielman
Brother to: Harry F. (Faith A. Archer), Mildred L. (Charles A. Kilborn) and Henry B. (Joyce Moncrief) Thielman
Husband of Paula Marguerite Kuhlman, married October 11, 1924
Mrs. Paula Thielman
Father to: Loren Walter and Leslie R. (Dollie Joanne Johnson) Thielman
Grandfather to: Sherry Lynn, Sandra Lee and Walter Scott Thielman
He was a good grandpa!!!!
I just wish he could have grown old with us.
THE HUMMER GARAGE
From 1924 to 1946, Walt worked at the Hummer Garage in Chicago Heights as a machinist as a young man.
Family history mentions that at some time around 1930, Walt took over ownership of the garage and it’s mentioned that Al Capone used to store his cars in Walt’s garage.
The Hummer Garage also sold Studebaker automobiles.
LEARNING TO FLY
Example of a Waco Biplane
Sometime around 1930, Walt got the aviation bug. The family history tells of Walt buying a badly wrecked “Waco” open cockpit biplane and restoring it to running condition. Then, he taught himself to fly by running back and forth in a field until he was able to take off and land again.
CHICAGO HEIGHTS / ASHLAND AVE. AIRPORT
Around 1940, Walt bought the Chicago Heights Airport lease from August “Augie” Maross. At that time, Walt owned a Fairchild PT-26 and a Cessna Twin Engine. Walt also started T & H Flying Service with Dr. D.L. Harnett and sold Aeronca and Swift Aircrafts.
After the US entered WW2, Walt tried to enlist but was turned down due to his vision. Family lore says he also traveled to Canada to try and enlist there, but again he was turned down. In order to serve his country Walt became heavily involved in the Civil Air Patrol “CAPS”.
Walt went on to train hundreds of our young civilian pilots through the Army’s aviation cadet and G.I. flight training programs.
Chicago Heights Star newspaper article reads:
C.A.P. Pilots Stand by for War Service
Although one writer in a recent edition of the Saturday Evening Post termed it the “toughest assignment on the home front,” the Civil Air Patrol still remains a nebulous quantity in the minds of many Americans.
Passers-by at the local airport may see men and women in uniform drilling on the flying fields or observe privately-owned airplanes flying in formation, swooping low to pick up messages or engaging in mock bombing raids. They may see all this and still not know the importance of the assignment given America’s civilian pilots on the home front.
Some even suspect that the flyers are engaging in pleasant pastime at the expense of the government. To correct that impression THE STAR decided to publish a comprehensive story of the C.A.P. and the vital part it is playing in home defense. Because Group 613, Squadron 4 of Illinois Wing draws its membership largely from the two local airports, Washington Park and Chicago Heights, it was easy to obtain firsthand information on a typical C.A.P. unit.
First of all, Commander Walter L. Thielman of the local group emphasizes the point that C.A.P. flyers receive very little if any compensation from the government for attendance at drill and classes and for most of their flying. Some members of the local group, he points out, come for many miles and pay for their own gasoline or for rental of airplanes. On certain special missions for the government, such as towing targets for anti-aircraft gunners, they receive some small remuneration and insurance policies. Otherwise they pay their own way in an effort to be of service and to continue their flight training.
Sacrifice Their Time
While pilots and observers of the group spend thousands of hours in the air, much more of their time is taken up attending meetings, studying for advanced ratings, appearing at certain authorized public functions and in drilling. Many are engaged in vital defense industries or have their own businesses and professions; yet they sacrifice the other personal interests to fulfill the stern service requirements of the organization.
CIVIL AIR GROUP STANDING BY FOR SERVICE IN WAR
Until recently the Air Patrol was a branch of the Office of Civilian Defense with national offices in Washington and wing commands throughout all of the states. It is now under the War Department, operating as an auxiliary of the Army Air Forces with members subject to a call to duty on a moment’s notice.
Transfer to the War Department was considered advisable when the army became impressed with the remarkable job being done by the civilian pilots. While the submarine coastal patrol service was perhaps the most dramatic of the C.A.P., hundreds of important and dangerous missions had been carried out by C.A.P. pilots in all sections of the country. This relieved or supplemented the work of army airmen so effectively that the general worth of the organization became apparent to high officers of the Air Forces.
Has the local group actually contributed directly to the war effort? This question is best answered by the fact that many pilots and flight instructors in the army and navy received their first military training in the Chicago Heights Civil Air Patrol and are now actually engaged in combat duty or at training fields in far-flung sections of the country.
Serve Over Ocean
Two members of the local group served at a Florida base of the coastal submarine patrol last winter, and one of them recently returned for a second period of active duty. This service generally is recognized as one of the most dangerous performed by pilots anywhere outside the immediate battle areas. Pilots fly out many miles over the ocean in single engine planes, barely skimming the waves and equipped only with a life jacket and a knife for hungry sharks.
Civil Air Patrol pilots definitely have been credited with submarine sinkings and with reducing the number of sinkings in the coastal shipping lanes, Many an Axis submarine captain, leisurely recharging his batteries on the surface, has had to crash dive when a tiny plane, formerly used for sportsman flying, suddenly appears from nowhere to unload a bomb.
Membership in the local group is a cross-section of average Americans with one thing in common – the love of flying. There are doctors, mechanics, business men, housewives, instructors in aircraft plants and students already enrolled as aviation cadets. Some are certificated flight instructors and others hold commercial or private pilot’s certificates. Still others have student ratings and are working for their certificates.
All who fly agree to service whenever called upon by the War Department. To secure flight tests for advanced ratings they must first agree to active service in some designated capacity, such as army flight instructor, service pilot, courier pilot or for active forest or coastal patrol.
Place for Women
There is a place for women in the C.A.P. Three former women pilots of the Chicago Heights group are now serving as Link training instructors and a fourth is completing her training in the W.A.A.F. Helen Budwash, veteran woman pilot of the Chicago area, is a member of the local group and flies regularly at the Chicago Heights field. All the women members take the tasks assigned to them seriously and are considered to be valuable factors in the smooth operation of the organization.
The changeover to the War department has imposed additional tasks upon the officers and new responsibilities. That the Civil Air Patrol is entering upon a new and more serious phase of its wartime career is evident. It is evident also that thoroughness of organization and training during the tenure of the O.C.D. has placed it in readiness for any call to service that may be made upon it by the army.
Suburbanite Economist – May 12, 1943
100 Airplanes Will Drop ‘Bombs’ on City in Mock Raid
Call Meetings to Instruct OCD Workers in What to Do During ‘Attack.’
Special meetings will be called within the week to instruct Civilian Defense protective workers in what to do during the first mock bombing in the metropolitan area to be staged May 23 from 2 to 4 p.m. when 100 Civil Air Patrol planes will “bomb” the city.
The primary purpose of the “raid” will be to test the preparedness of OCD workers through a complete mobilization, Ralph H. Burke, deputy coordinator for the metropolitan area of the OCD, announced last week. No participation by the general public will be required, he said.
Drop 100,000 Bombs
The Civil Air Patrol planes, which will take off from various undisclosed airports, will drop more than 100,000 fake bombs over the area. Identified by different colors, four types of bombs will be dropped. Incendiaries will be red, demolition bombs will be blue, gas bombs will be yellow and delayed or unexploded bombs will be green. The bombs will be harmless, weighing only about one ounce each.
It will be the duty of the OCD workers to detect the bombs as they fall, determine their nature and then report to their local control center, performing the same operations as they would during an actual air raid.
Don’t Touch Bombs
Included in the corps of OCD workers participating in the raid will be block captains, air raid wardens, fire watchers, auxiliary fire and policemen, medical corps workers and decontamination crews.
Citizens who happen to see a bomb fall are not to touch it or make a report, but are to call their nearest air raid warden or block captain.
OCD sirens and the auxiliary steam sirens will be employed to announce the start of the raid. There will be no other signals from the sirens.
Walt’s vision for Governor’s Airpark was more than an airport
Chicago Heights Star – July 18, 1947
AIRPORT WILL MOVE SOON TO RICHTON SITE
“Governor’s Airpark Is New Name of Flight Center
TO BE ON ROUTE 54
The Chicago Heights Airport will be moved soon to a more spacious site along Governor’s Highway, Route 54, about a mile south of Richton Park, it was announced yesterday by Walter Thielman, president of the Midwest Aircraft Sales Corporation , operator of the present field on Ashland Avenue.
Thielman said the new airport will be known as “Governor’s Airpark,” and eventually will boast auxiliary features to accommodate over night air travelers.
Decision to move the airport as soon as possible was prompted by a lease termination order effective July 31, issued by joint owners of the Ashland Avenue land. Since that action, Thielman has signed a long-term lease to occupy the Governor’s Highway site.
More Than Airport
Changing the name from an airport to an airpark is keeping in step with advancement in aviation, Thielman pointed out. The new field will actually be more than just an airport, he explained in outlining features being planned for the future.
Governor’s Airpark, Thielman said, will include a fenced-off orchard which will be converted into a picnic grove. It is also planned to construct cabins for over-night guests and have restaurant facilities available, he said. At the present site, no such accommodations were possible and guests had to be lodged at a hotel, he stated.
The new field will be well equipped to take care of frequent breakfast flights, as well as pilots who spend the night in Chicago Heights. To modernize the field further, he said, it is planned to install a service station along the highway.
About 60 usable acres will be included in the airpark, with three runways averaging about one-half mile long each, he said, shuttle transportation service will be operated between the airpark and Illinois Central railroad stations at 311th street and Richton Park. This will be maintained to accommodate student pilots, guest pilots and others associated with the field.
Building sites already have been mapped out, with actual construction scheduled to get under way next week, the corporation president reported. Four buildings, including a flight office and three hangers, will be constructed first.
Meanwhile, a new contract has been signed with the Veterans Administration to continue the G.I. program of flight training. The contract will be in force until July 1, 1948. The airport hopes to move to the new location in the near future so as not to interrupt the veteran’s flight study. There are about 50 G.I. students on the active list at the present time.
(Editor’s note: Walt’s vision for the airpark never completely materialized. Overnight cabins were never built, but a lunch counter was, run by Walt’s wife Paula. In addition, a go-cart track was added off Governor’s Highway which was great fun for local and out of town guests. Many breakfast fly-ins and annual air shows were put on in the summers with all kinds of aerobatics, air races and also parachute jumping. It was a great summer festival atmosphere. Santa Claus even came to visit around Christmas time)
July 1948 – The Chicago Heights Star
Fire Destroys Office at New Flying Field
Fanned by a stiff southwest wind, fire of unknown origin totally demolished a one-story frame office building early Friday morning at Governor’s Airpark on Route 54 near Monee.
The airport is owned by the Midwest Aircraft Corporation, of which Walter Thielman, 1320 Franklin Avenue, is president. Formerly known as the Chicago Heights Airport and located on Ashland Avenue near Country Club Road, its name was changed when the equipment was moved last year.
The blaze gained considerable headway before it was discovered, and efforts by the Richton Park fire department and volunteers from nearby homes who responded to the alarm failed to save the building, which was burned to the ground by two a.m.
The exact time at which the fire started is not known, but persons who drove by the airport at 12:15 a.m. Friday declared that they saw no sign of fire. Another passing motorist noted the flames at 1:30 a.m. and rushed to a telephone to summon the Richton Park department.
Destroyed in the blaze were desks, typewriters, flying records and office equipment. Plans to build a new structure are being made by the aircraft company, a spokesman said. The razed building is the one which was used for an office when the airport was located in Chicago Heights. Authorities at the airport did not place an estimate on the loss.
Use Plane as Office
Temporary office quarters were set up Saturday at the airport in a twin-engine Cessna airplane, in which a telephone was installed and a typewriter table placed.
The same southwest breeze which helped the flames was instrumental in saving two hangers in which several planes were housed. Located southwest of the office, the hangers were some distance from the burning building and were never in real danger.
Paula manning the telephones
Thielman moved to the new location last year. Operating at the Ashland Avenue port on a month-to-month lease, he was forced to move when the lease was terminated by the owners of the land.
Chicago Heights Star – October 31, 1959
WALTER L. THIELMAN, AIRPORT OWNER, DIES SUDDENLY
Funeral services were held yesterday for Walter Louis Thielman, 56, of Route 54, Richton Park, owner of Governors Air-park on Governors Highway.
Mr. Thielman died suddenly Saturday at St. James Hospital following a heart attack.
The Rev. John Melchert, pastor of St. Luke’s United Church of Christ, officiated at services at the Hack Chapel in Beecher. Interment was in the Beecher Mausoleum.
A veteran pilot, instructor and owner of the Midwest Aircraft Sales Corp and Governors Air Park, Mr. Thielman had lived in Richton Park for the past 12 years. He previously operated the Chicago Heights Air Field off Ashland Ave from 1927-1947 and operated the Veterans Administration flight training program in which more than 60 World War II veterans were registered.
Known for his skill as a flyer and an instructor, Mr. Thielman had many friends throughtout the south suburban area.
Survivors include his wife, Paula; one son, Leslie of Richton Park; one sister, Mrs. Mildred Kilborn of Chicago, two brothers, Henry of Jonesboro, Arkansas and Harry of Compton, California and two grandchildren.
This card was found in Walt’s wallet
Walter’s family members also resting in the mausoleum are:
Wife: Paula M. (Kuhlman) Thielman
Son: Loren W. Thielman
Daughter-in-law: Dollie Joanne (Johnson) Thielman
Father & Mother: Henry F. Thielman & Minnie (Bielfeldt) Thielman
Sisters in-law: Albert F.Kilborn & Elizabeth (Dole) Kilborn
Other, more distant family include: Bahlman, Batterman, Bergmeier, Beseke, Bielfeldt, Bohl, Cloidt, Dunlap, Engleking, Fenske, Fick, Fiene, Freerking, Frobose, Graham, Guritz, Hack, Hager, Haltenhof , Heine, Heldt, Hildeman, Hinze, Hoffman, Hoppensteadt, Horn, Hunte, Kaczynski, Kappe, Kirchhoff, Klocksieben, Koch, Langreder, Leder, Maass, Matthias, Mc Carty, Meyer, Monk, Niedert, Ohlendorf, Pansa, Peters, Pralle, Riley, Ristenpart, Rohe, Rust, Saller, Selk, Struve, Vagt, Von Engeln, Wegert, Wehmhoefer, Wiechen, Westphal, Wilkening,