Burrell Tibbs Papers

DSpace/Manakin Repository

Burrell Tibbs Papers

 

Charles Burrell Tibbs was born on March 11, 1896 on a cotton farm 1.5 miles Southwest of Royse City, Rockwall County, Texas to Francis B. Tibbs and Maragette [sic] Tibbs. The etymology of the name Tibbs stems from his grandmother, who was named Thibodeaux. Burrell Tibbs was raised by his grandparents on the farm.

Tibbs' great grand father was a Methodist circuit riding preacher. His paternal grandmother married Joe Tibbs of Marion, Illinois. Frances B. Tibbs was their son. The family moved down from Canada through Illinois to Texas during the Construction Period of the Texas and Pacific Railway.

In 1909 at the World Fair in St. Louis, Missouri Tibbs' first interest in aviation was sparked by observing the Baldwin air ship and Glenn Curtiss fly. He worked as a greaseball mechanic for French aviator Tom Benoist while being an apprentice to him in 1912. Tibbs worked at the Curtiss School in Hammondsport, New York in 1913, where he gained new ideas for Benoist.

Tibbs soloed on January 9, 1914. Unfortunately, he crashed in the second part of his solo. His flight started at Randall Park in East Dallas. He worked with Lester Miller, another early aviator, from Dallas, Texas in 1914. Their business relationship continued during the years 1915 through 1917 working as barnstormers in Oklahoma and Texas. In addition, Tibbs became a Fixed Based Operator in East Dallas and they set up the Miller-Tibbs training camp business in Marlin, Texas.

After the entry of the United States in the World War I, Tibbs flew for the United States Army Air Corps flying in the United States and training other wartime fliers. He was honorably discharged from the service on February 12, 1919.

In the same year, Tibbs became a member of the Texas Top-Notch Fliers barnstormers. He operated a commercial air service and flying school at Municipal airport in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma from 1922 through 1929. For the next ten years, Tibbs continued to barnstorm flying routes between Mexico and United States and also worked as a crop duster.

From 1939 through 1941 Tibbs worked at the College Pilot Training School (CPT) in Oklahoma and was a pilot instructor in World War II from 1942 through 1945 . After the war and until 1951, Tibbs sold war surplus and new aircraft until he was employed at the Boeing plant in Wichita, Kansas.

In 1953, he operated a flying service out of Grand Prairie, Texas. At the age of fifty-seven, he flew a World War I Jenny from Bloomington, Illinois to Grand Prairie, Texas in seven days, or the equivalent of 750 miles, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of powered flight. In 1954 Tibbs constructed a Silver Wings replica of Clyde Cessna's 1911 airplane. 1957 saw Tibbs as Public Relations Assistant to the manager of Oklahoma City's Downtown Air Park and teacher of cadet aviation classes at the University of Oklahoma. In 1963 he was elected president of the Air Indians, a chapter of the Antique Aircraft Association. Tibbs was the acting Director of the Aerosphere Show, Oklahoma Semi-Centennial anniversary.

Tibbs received many awards and recognition, such as the Burrell Tibbs Day on April 14, 1929 honoring him as Oklahoma's Pioneer Flier, which was a statewide celebration designated by licensed pilots of Oklahoma. On May 25 of the same year, the Oklahoma Chamber of Commerce presented to him the official award for his services in the advancement of commercial aviation in Oklahoma and the United States.

Burrell Tibbs was a member of many aviation related associations, such as the Early Birds, OX5 Club of Aviation Pioneers, Quiet Birdmen (Q.B.) Club of Oklahoma and Texas, Air Indians, Antique Aircraft Association, Tau Omega (honorary), Kill Devil Hill Memorial Society, Institute of Aeronautical Science, Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), just to name a few.

Tibbs logged a total of 45,000 hours during his active flying career. Charles Burrell Tibbs passed away at the age of sixty-nine in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on May 5, 1965. His ashes were dropped from an airplane above his birthplace Royse City, Texas. He was survived by his wife Julia and two daughters, Mrs. Ruth B. Crossley and Mrs. Jeanne Santerre, both of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and sons Charles B. and Burrell Francis Tibbs.

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