Quiet Birdman Exhibit
By Heather Salazar, Curator
Wartime often unites individuals into organizations for a support network or just simply for social purposes and unity. One such organization formed as a member only “secret” organization following World War I. One such organization that little is known about even today is the Quiet Birdmen.
In January 1921 a group of aviators gathered at Marta’s Italian Café in New York City and form the Ancient and Secret Order of Quiet Birdmen. Ladislas “Laddie” d’Orcy, an author and editor, called the meeting to discuss the “old days” of flying.
Soon after the first meeting, they created their distinctive Quiet Birdmen emblem - a pair of wings attached to a blue shield with the letters “QB” in the center.
During the 1930s many aviators gathered to hold meetings throughout New York City. Over time, other “QB Hangars” emerged around the country, all adhering to the group’s strict rules. The group refused to accept women as members or allow women to attend meeting except “professional entertainers” women.
During a Quiet Birdmen meeting at the 1938 Cleveland Air Races they adopted a limited organizational structure. Then in 1939 they adopted a “QB Code of Procedure” outlining the organizational structure, while maintaining the “informality and uniqueness” of the group. The Code of Procedure was later amended in September 1953.
Many of the most famous male aviators have been QBs, including Eddie Rickenbacker, Charles Lindbergh, Robert Fowler, and Roscoe Turner. Today the “Quiet Birdmen” is one of the oldest continuously functioning aviator organizations in existence.
We are lucky to have several artifacts from Captain J. Francis Gardner, a World War I pilot, and also a member of the Quiet Birdmen. These artifacts include a Quiet Birdmen Membership plaque, Aero Club of America Aviator’s Certificate, and Army & Navy Air Service Association Certificate. We also have a copy of a signatures page from the Quiet Birdmen. Thank you to Betty Gardner Nelson for donating these items.