Rector E. Searle,
born in 1896 in Ogallala, Nebraska, started the R.E. Searle Motor Co., which he
operated from 1916 to 1967. In 1919 Searle bought a World War I surplus
Jenny, the first airplane in Keith County. He developed an airport site on the Searle Ranch
just west of Ogallala, where he erected a hangar.
Searle sold his first airplane in 1921. During the
next fifty years he sold more than 2,000 airplanes and was awarded the
coveted million dollar sales award three times from Piper Aircraft Corporation.
Rector got his first pilot’s license in 1935. The City of Ogallala acquired the land for a municipal airport in 1970
and dedicated Searle field in ceremonies held in 1972. Searle flew more than
one million miles in his 15,000 hours in numerous aircraft.