Cyril C. Thompson papersCreation: 1921-1976 Creation: Majority of material found within 1928-1955
Cyril C. Thompson (1892-1976) had a long career in the accounting, management and public relations sides of the aviation industry, joining near the beginning of commercial aviation in 1928 and retiring just as the era of commercial jets began. Thompson was as an executive of United Air Lines for eighteen years, and later an airport planner, consultant, and prolific author and speaker. The papers of Cyril C. Thompson consist of a selection of items that he retained as mementos of the different stages of his career, plus materials and drafts for an unpublished biography of Idaho Senator William E. Borah and a never-completed personal history of United Air Lines on which he was working at the time of his death.
- Creation: 1921-1976
- Creation: Majority of material found within 1928-1955
3 Linear Feet
Cyril C. Thompson (1892-1976) had a long career in the accounting, management and public relations sides of the aviation industry, joining near the beginning of commercial aviation in 1928 and retiring just as the era of commercial jets began. Thompson was as an executive of United Air Lines for eighteen years, and later an airport planner, consultant, and prolific author and speaker.
Cyril Clowes Thompson was born October 30, 1892 in Joliet, Illinois; son of James M. Thompson (1866-1948) and Anna Marie (Clowes) Thompson (1867-1945). He received his early education there, attended Beloit College from 1910 to 1912 and, later, studied law at the University of Nebraska from 1914 to 1917. He began his professional career as Assistant Chemist with U.S. Steel Corporation from 1912 to 1914. During World War I he served with the 24th Machine Gun Battalion, 8th Division, U.S. Army until 1918.
After the war, Thompson homesteaded a 160 acre ranch in Idaho and worked in a variety of jobs, including as a journalist and Chief Deputy State Auditor of Idaho from 1923 to 1928. Poor roads and difficult travel conditions in the vast spaces of Idaho led him to an interest in the newly developing field of commercial air transportation. Varney Air Lines, Inc. had been founded in Boise in 1926 and became affiliated with the vertical combination of airplane manufacturing and air transport enterprises being organized by William Boeing (1881-1956) of Seattle. In 1929 the Boeing and Pratt & Whitney interests were consolidated through the medium of a holding company, United Aircraft & Transport Corporation, and in 1931, its aircraft operations were combined as United Air Lines, Inc. Through the Air Mail Act of 1934, the Roosevelt Administration broke up the combinations encouranged by the Hoover Administration, and United Aircraft & Transport was divided into two manufacturing companies, the present United Technologies and Boeing, and United Air Lines, Inc.
In 1928 Thompson became the Business Manager for the new Boeing School of Aeronautics, a division of Boeing Air Transport, Inc. located in Oakland, California He joined United Air Lines Inc. as a Tax Agent in 1931; became Corporate Secretary and Director 1934; Executive Assistant to company president W.A. Patterson (1899-1980), 1936; and Vice President, Public Relations of United Air Lines Transport Corporation in 1940, a position from which he resigned in 1947. He then became a consultant and special representative for Santa Fe Skyways which provided air freight service for the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. In 1948 be became Executive Secretary, and later Executive Director from 1949 to 1954, of the Airport Operators Council in Washington D.C.
Thompson also served as an airport consultant to the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association; Director and President of the National Aeronautic Association; President of the Idaho Airways Association; Commander of the Boise Post of the American Legion; and a member of the American Legion Special National Aviation Commission.
He married Vivian Grace Ditto (1892-1975), July 19, 1917 and they had four daughters - Dawn Thompson Weston (1919-2015), Betty Thompson Schwering (1920-2004), Rachael Thompson Ohman (1921-), and Eleanor Thompson (1934-). Thompson died July 4, 1976.
Series I. General occupational papers; Series II. William E. Borah biography; Series III. Cyril C. Thompson biographical and personal papers; Series IV. United Air Lines records.
Scope and Content
The papers of Cyril C. Thompson consist of a selection of items that he retained as mementos of the different stages of his career, plus materials and drafts for an unpublished biography of Idaho Senator William E. Borah and a never-completed personal history of United Air Lines on which he was working at the time of his death.
The general occupational papers cover Thompson's career outside of United Air Lines.
The Airlines War Training Institute folder contains war-time training documents dated in the early 1940's. Airport Operators Council members owned and/or operated commercial airports in the U.S. The folders contain information on it's annual meetings (1949-1951), and airport related presentations, reports and articles.
Meteorology training course material from the Boeing School of Aeronautics dates from the period (1928-1931). There is also a group of photographs showing the "hands-on" course work in the School's shops, around 1930.
The Idaho State folder contains general tourist and state budget information on the state in which Thompson lived. There is also a construction agreement for aircraft "tie-down"kits between the Jerome County Airport and State of Idaho, Dept. of Aeronautics dated June 7, 1963.
The National Aeronautic Association's purpose was to encourage the advancement of all phases of aviation. This series contains its By-Laws and newsletters sent to members covering all aspects of aviation during a time, before the war ended, when post-WWII issues were first being considered. Santa Fe Skyway, Inc., a wholly owned air freight affiliate of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway Company, was incorporated under the Laws of Delaware on May 4, 1946. This file deals with a number of regulatory issues that arose during the early days of air mail and freight movement.
Thompson took an interest in the political career of Progressive Republican Idaho Senator William E. Borah elected to office in 1906. This series contains several drafts and typescripts and other materials for an unpublished biography of Borah.
The Thompson biographical and personal series contains articles and speeches by Thompson dealing mainly with aviation transportation development. The Airport Letter was a newsletter by Thompson circulated privately to operators and users of civil airports. It dealt with legislation, usage and financial aspects of the airport industry. There is a handwritten draft of his projected history of the early years of United Air Lines, which also doubled as an autobiography, written months before his death.
The United Air Lines series includes correspondence, mainly between Thompson and President W.A. Patterson dealing with everyday issues concerning the industry and the airline in particular. Also included are sample publications, general policy, and management information manuals, Public Relations Department memos, and a brief from a 1943 court case over the bidding rules for air mail contracts.
No restrictions on access; this collection is open for research.
Language of Materials
Some publications were transferred to the Published Collections Department and are cataloged in Hagley's Online Catalog. Some photographs were transferred to Hagley's Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiates Department.
- United Air Lines, Inc (Organization)
Finding Aid & Administrative Information
- Cyril C. Thompson papers
- Rainer Naus and Christopher T. Baer
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