JULIUS EARL SCHAEFER
A Wichita native, Julius Earl Schaefer was born in 1893. Known for his innovative leadership skills and entrepreneurial abilities, he became an internationally respected aviation executive.
Having entered West Point in 1914, Earl was a classmate of “Ike” Eisenhower. Five years later he flew the first military airplane into Wichita. In 1927 became sales manager of the new Stearman Aircraft Company and in 1931 he replaced Lloyd Stearman as general manager.
Just as the depression began to affect the aviation industry, Earl saved Stearman with the promotion of a small fabric-covered bi-wing airplane known as the Stearman Trainer, later the Boeing Kaydet. Subsequently, more than 10,000 Kaydets were manufactured in the Wichita production line and Schafer earned his reputation as an aircraft pioneer.
In 1935 Earl convinced the Fourth National Bank of Wichita to loan them sufficient funds to meet payroll, thus saving the company, now Boeing Commercial Airplane Group, from financial disaster. In the late 1930s he became general manager of the Wichita Airplane Company that has become the number one aerospace company in the world. Under Earl’s guidance Boeing constructed more than 1,165 B-29s during World War II, and later led the company into the “jet Age” with the development of the B-47 and B-52 bombers.
Instrumental in the promotion of the Army Air Corp Bill in 1957, Earl lobbied Congress to implement the bill that led to the Formation of the United States Air Force.