Phelps County’s First Airman

From the June 2018 Stereoscope –

A Publication by the Holdrege Area Genealogy Club

BIERMAN LICENSED AS TRANSPORT PILOT Has Eleven Hundred in the Air Without Serious Trouble

From the Holdrege Daily Citizen, November 12, 1931

The first transport pilot’s license to be received in Phelps County was awarded to Arvine Bierman Tuesday at Norton, Kansas when he passed his transport test. He flew down in Roy Zwiebel’s new sport model plane. Zwiebel, who recently received his pilot’s license was taught to fly by Bierman. Mr. Birman was also the first to receive a pilot’s license in the county. He now has 1,100 hours in the air to his credit and has been fortunate in never experiencing any trouble while in the air. During this time, he has flown 111,000 miles.


1919 was the year Dr. Frank Brewster purchased his first plane. However, he always hired pilots to fly his plane as he was concerned about the pressure of traveling to save his patient and being the pilot would be dangerous. Pilot Wade Stevens was hired to assemble his first plane in May 1919, when Dr. Brewster resided in Beaver City, Nebraska. From then on, he traveled by plane many places in Nebraska and Kansas. His first patient was in Herndon, Kansas, an oilfield worker whose skull has been fractured by a flying clevis from the derrick on an oil well. This man was saved because of the short time it took Dr. Brewster to get to his patient.

In those early days there were no airports, therefore landing in pastures, alfalfa and stubble fields became the landing spots where the plane was tied to a fence post so it would not be tipped over by the wind.

These pilots hired by Dr. Frank Brewster were Wade Stevens – 1919; Warren Kite (killed in Grand Island in 1921; Dr. J. Hodge Smith; Earl Barns; Joe Lowrey; Arvine Stevens.In his retirement, Dr. Brewster decided to take flying lessons in 1943, and he received his pilot license at age 71.


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