E. J. Sias incorporated the Lincoln Auto and Tractor
School in 1918 and two years
later started training aircraft mechanics. In 1928, Sias acquired the former
Ray Page flight school and combined it with his mechanics school under the name
Lincoln Airplane and Flying School.
Flight training was first conducted at the old Municipal
Airport in Lincoln,
NE but was moved to Union
Airport, which Sias owned. Union
Airport was located north of Fletcher
Avenue between North
56th and 70th. By 1938 the schools were “widely known throughout the world”.
In 1939, the Chief of the Army Air Corp, Major General Henry “Hap” Arnold,
selected the nine best civilian flying schools in the nation to train Air
Corps pilots. Sias’ school was one of them. Bad flying weather doomed the Air
Corps training in Lincoln, so
Sias moved the Air Corps flight training to Lakeland,
FL in late 1940 and sold it. Sias then
moved his civilian training program from the old Municipal
Airport to Union
Airport, where it continued in
conjunction with the University of Nebraska.
This federally sponsored program had been initiated in 1939 and was aptly
named, the Civilian Pilot Training Program. It served primarily as the
screening program for potential military pilots. It was phased out in 1944.
In 1941, the Lincoln Airplane and Flying
School celebrated it’s 21st anniversary. Sias received dozens of telegrams
and letters of congratulations, including messages from major airlines, plane
manufactures, the Chairman of the Civil Aeronautics Board and the Chief of
the Army Air Corps. Sias dissolved both his Lincoln Airplane and Flying
School and the Lincoln
Aeronautical Institute corporations in July 1945, when he was 68 and retired.
Sias died in 1955 in Lincoln. Union
Airport was closed in 1964 when
municipal aviation returned to the deactivated air base.