State Historical Society Publishes USD Professor's Article on South Dakota Aviation

Steve Bucklin Steven Bucklin

A University of South Dakota history professor wrote the feature article in the quarterly journal of the State Historical Society that features the state's colorful aviation history, from the barnstorming era to the Space Age.

The centerpiece of the Summer 2015 issue of “South Dakota History” is the article by Steven J. Bucklin titled “Fly-over Country?: A Glimpse of South Dakota through Its Aviation History.”

South Dakotans had their first experience with “flying machines” at the 1911 South Dakota Stock Growers Association convention in Rapid City, where the Curtiss Exhibition Co., owned by aviation pioneer Glenn Curtiss, provided thrilling entertainment. Later, after Charles Lindbergh’s visits to Sioux Falls and Pierre following his heroic solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean in 1927, entrepreneurs looked to aviation as a means to stimulate South Dakota’s economy. By the mid-1930s, federal, state and local officials saw the need to regulate and promote the new industry along with providing essential aviation infrastructure.

Bucklin consulted state government records, interviewed notable figures such as the late former Gov. William J. Janklow, a licensed pilot, and read extensively in historic newspapers in the course of his research. Much of the author’s source material and most of the article’s illustrations were found in the State Historical Society’s archival collection at the Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre.

“We enjoyed the opportunity to provide Professor Bucklin with some of the resources he needed to write an insightful article on such a fascinating topic,” said Matthew T. Reitzel, manuscript and photo archivist for the State Historical Society-Archives.

Bucklin, who holds B.A. and M.A. degrees from USD and a Ph.D. in history from the University of Iowa, is the author of several books and articles on South Dakota and on United States diplomatic history.

A subscription to “South Dakota History” is a benefit of membership in the South Dakota State Historical Society. For information on membership, call (605) 773-6000. Individual issues may be purchased for $10 plus tax and shipping by calling (605) 773-6009.


Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 205 undergraduate and 73 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 17:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 17 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.

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Michael Ewald
USD News