L. Philip Billard
Aviator, World War I soldier. Born: April 27, 1891, Topeka, Kansas. Died: July 14, 1918, France
Born to a prominent family April 27, 1891, in Topeka, Kansas, Louis Philip Billard learned to fly at an early age. Topeka aviator and aircraft builder, A. K. Longren, was his instructor and provided aircraft for Billard to fly.
Billard's flights around the capital city were frequently mentioned in the Topeka papers. This attention was due partly to the public's fascination with this new invention and to the fact that Billard was the son of Topeka mayor, J. B. Billard. His father was quoted in 1912 the Topeka Daily Capital as being "opposed to his son purchasing the racing biplane, because of the dangers of flying, but Phil wanted something that was faster than an auto. . ."
His father's concerns about the dangers of flying were well founded. Many pilots had accidents in these early aircraft.
Billard volunteered for service as a pilot when the U.S. entered World War I. He trained in Colorado, California, and New York, before he was assigned the duty of test pilot in France. While serving as a test pilot and instructor during World War I in France, Billard died July 14, 1918, when his plane disintegrated. In 1940 the Philip Billard Airport in Topeka, Kansas, was dedicated to his memory.
Entry: Billard, L. Philip
Author: Kansas Historical Society
Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.
Date Created: July 2010
Date Modified: March 2013
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