Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center, Ausmus Collection
Pioneer Early Bird of St. Louis
BY THOMAS REILLY*
Ask anyone about airplanes—the novice or the expert. Almost everyone
knows the names of Boeing, McDonnell, Douglas, Lockheed, and the Wright
brothers. Fewer recall Glenn Martin or Glenn Curtiss. Almost no one knows
the name of Thomas Wesley Benoist or of his influence and accomplishments
in the design and construction of early American aircraft.
Born in Irondale, Missouri, on December 29, 1874, Benoist migrated to
St. Louis in 1893, finding work at the Buck Stove Foundry as a moulder.
While there, he took evening classes in bookkeeping, stenography, and exec-
*Thomas Reilly is an aviation consultant and a licensed pilot. He holds a bachelor's
degree from Bridgewater State College, Bridgewater, Massachusetts, and a master's degree
from Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts.