Clarence E. Page
Clarence E. Page
“It is that delirium Page seems to want to preserve – the thrills – beneath the hard facts and artifacts. They are reminders of the beginnings of aviation – a romantic heritage that is much a part of Oklahoma’s history.”
Well-known as “Mr. Oklahoma Aviation,” Clarence E. Page saw the first airplane flight in Oklahoma in 1910 as he stood with a crowd in a wheat field near the present site of the Capitol Hill branch library. He learned to fly as an Army pilot during World War I and was one of a group of Army reserve pilots who were largely responsible for developing civil aviation in central Oklahoma. After Page was urged to establish a flight training school, he returned home and founded the Oklahoma Air College under contract with the Army to train 8,500 pilots for World War II. After the war ended, Page began an aircraft servicing firm at Will Rogers World Airport and became a distributor for the North American Navion, operated a government surplus aircraft engine refurbishing and sales office, and organized Page Aircraft Maintenance Co. In 1972, Page sold the firm to Northrop Aircraft for more than $2 million. Eight years later, he gained national acclaim with the establishment of his Oklahoma Air and Space Museum in the former Kirkpatrick Center in Oklahoma City. In 1978 Yukon’s Cimarron Airport was renamed Clarence E. Page Airport in his honor.
Page’s fascination with space began at an early age. In 1910 he witnessed Haley’s Comet and tried to capture some of it by taking his mother’s canning jars, “swooped them through the sky, then screwed the lids on real tight.” Page’s mother ended his plans for fame and fortune when she found the hidden (and empty) jars in the barn.
Page was the son of an Oklahoma City policeman.