Porterfield Airplane Club

Keep the Skinny Birds Flying Safely

Today is July 10th, 2020. My mother and father would have been married for 80 years today. They have long since passed, but I am still amazed by their lives. Happy anniversary Mom and Dad.

Since my dad was so involved with the Porterfield aircraft, I wanted to re-share a bio that appeared in the Porterfield Club newsletter in April of 1978. It was authored by Chuck LeBrecht with inputs from my dad.

There are some errors, spelling, grammatical, and factual (I know this because I know some other factual details), but for the most part it confirms the order of his education, employment, and home locations.


(partial contents of the newsletter only; there was also a picture of my dad and other articles)


President & Public Relations

Charles E. LeBrecht


Dated April 1978




At the time William Skinner was employed as the Chief Engineer at the Porterfield Corp., Kansas City, Mo. He resided at 532 Gladstone, Kansas City. I also add thanks for Bill’s letter I’m now able to give a better inside story of him. I’m grateful for your time and personal info Bill.

Bill Skinner was born in Stockton, Kansas on Nov. 2, 1914 thanks to his parents William Kenneth and Ethyl (McLaughlin) Skinner. His father, W.K. was a lawyer and district court judge in western Kansas from 1907 to 1952. He passed on in 1955.

Ethyl (better known as Betty) had full time job taking care of their home. She passed on in Nov. 1976 with 93 years to her credit.

For Bills education was in Stockton and attended public school, graduated from Stockton High School in 1933. Built his first glider while at high school in 1932. It was a primary type with a 30’ wing span. During 1931, 32 & 33, he took a few flying lessons in a 150 H.P. Hisos “clip wing” Jenny and in a 65 H.P. M5 Velie Monocoupe, 1928 Model.

Attended Tri-State Univ. 1935 to 1938. Graduated in June with a B.S. in Aero Engineering. While in college, he helped to organize the Tri-State Glider Club, flew in the first “Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes” Glider contest at Frankfort, Michigan during the college years and in 1939.

Employed with Porterfield Corp. in the fall of 1938 until late 1939. The next employment was with The Schweizer Brothers in Elmira, New York. He was their first engineer outside of the Schweizer family. Met and married Lucille Kieffer of Elmira, New York on July 10, 1940. He soon discovered that two could not live as cheaply as one, his 40 cent per hour just would not stretch. He went back to work for Ed Porterfield until there was just he and Frank Taylor remaining in the Engineering Section. He realized that the plant would not remain in business, he left in the fall of 1941. The went back to work for Schweizer’s again for a short time.

In early 1942, they moved back to Kansas City and the jump into Civil Service at the CAA Reginal Engineering Office. This job didn’t last long the U.S. Army started the Glider Corps. and he knew that they could not do with out him. He didn’t get his deserved commission or active duty because of the medical waiver. It was disallowed after much kicking around.

From late 1942 he employed with Ward Aircraft of Fort Smith, Ark and Timm Aircraft of Los Angeles on the CG4A Cargo Gliders. Early in 1944, they ended up in DeKalb, Ill. With Interstate Aircraft working on the Navy pilotless aircraft, the TDR series. After the Interstate left DeKalb, then Bill joined Wurlitzer Co. until the spring of 1946, they closed out the aircraft operations. Next job was with Convair in Fort Worth in late 1946 and remained with them until 1972 when he retired  (25 years).The career with Convair was varied but consisted mainly of the experimental engineering and development engineering of special purpose aircraft for the U. S. Airforce. He was involved with the first aircraft to carry a “reactor”, a modified B-36 with lead lined cockpit etc. The jet powered version of the B-36 (YB-60) in competition with the B-52 came along and after that several smaller jobs using B-54’s, C-97’s, Convair 240’s etc. During the B-52 and F-106 production time, Bill Skinner spent quite a bit of time in the Los Angeles Procurement Office as the engineering rep. Followed in thru design, manufacture and into operational engineering which takes Bill to many parts of the world. The final task at GD (Convair) was adoption of the RB-57 for  NASA’s Earth Resources pay load. They have mapped a major portion of the world with these aircraft seen in Nat. Geographic.

Bill Skinner has flown personal airplanes and gliders since 1935 with a Comm. Pilot Cert.# 92582, Glider with Private Power Rating Airframe Mechanic License # 519325 FAI Soaring Badges “C” #194 1937, Silver “C” #72 1947, Gold “C” #597 1970.

Member of –

Soaring Society of America, Experimental Aircraft Assn., OX-5 Aviation Pioneers, Natl. Rifle Assn. (life), and Natl. M. L. Assn. (life).


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Comment by Andy Gelston on July 25, 2020 at 3:04pm

Nice tribute, Bill!  Thank you for typing this all up for us.  I enjoyed watching the video of him at the reunion, also.

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