Louis Philip Billard was one of Topeka’s first aviators, taking his place with aircraft builder Albin K. Longren.  He was born in the Capitol City on April 27, 1891, and when airplanes came to be, he quickly joined those who had a fascination with flying. His teacher was the local airplane  builder Longren, who let him fly his planes and eventually sold Billard one.  Billard’s flights around Topeka  garnered attention, in part because of the fascination with flying and in part because his father was Topeka’s mayor.  His father was concerned about the dangers in flying, but knew his son wanted something faster than an automobile.

Billard volunteered for service when World War I started, and was assigned  to be a test pilot and be an instructor in France.   He was killed when his plane crashed on  July 24, 1918.

For more information, see the essay:  https://www.kshs.org/kansapedia/l-philip-billard/15562

For more about the Longren biplane Billard owned–and which is now hanging from the ceiling of the Kansas Museum of History in Topeka, see:  https://www.kshs.org/kansapedia/cool-things-longren-s-biplane/10107

 

Blair Tarr is the Museum Curator of the Kansas State Historical Society. He oversees the three-dimensional collections of the Society, but has special interests in the Civil War, Wichita-made Valentine diners, and Leavenworth’s Abernathy Furniture. In the last few years he has also done a lot of cramming on The Great War.

He is a past president of the Kansas Museums Association and the Civil War Round Tables of both Kansas City and Eastern Kansas. He is currently a board member of the Heritage League of Greater Kansas City.