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Biplane to Help Tell Story of Kansas Hero

Jeff GarretsonSeptember 11, 2020

The legacy of a Kansas World War I hero is coming to life in Wichita, with the help of a group committed to rebuilding a biplane to tell his story.

Erwin Bleckley is Wichita’s lone recipient of the aviation Congressional Medal of Honor – earned for his selfless act and courage to help resupply American soldiers who were trapped and outnumbered by German forces during the closing days of the Great War.

According to historians, on October, 6 1918 Bleckley and pilot Harold Goettler had to borrow another plane to fly back into the fray after their own DH-F biplane was shot up by enemy fire as they searched for the “Lost Battalion.”

Greg Zuercher and Retired Lt. Col. Doug Jacobs joined in on the KSAL Morning News Extra Friday to recount the courage the two Army officers displayed that day.


Zuercher added they chose a flight path they knew would put them in danger.



Pilot Harold Goettler was killed by ground fire, while Bleckley died from injuries suffered in the plane crash.


Now the Bleckley Airport Memorial Foundation is working to honor the Wichita native at Eisenhower National Airport. A restored DH-4 WW I aircraft has been purchased and is in the process of being transported to Kansas for its final restoration after a hard landing on a test flight damaged the biplane.

The group plans to have the DH-4 fly as a living memorial to Bleckley and Goettler, with other artifacts housed inside the airport terminal.

For more information visit

Photos courtesy: Bleckley Airport Memorial Foundation

Copyright © Meridian Media, 2021. All Rights Reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced without Meridian Media’s express consent.





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