Max Conrad and Early Winona Aviation Oral History Project: Interview with Charles W. Biesanz
Part 1


Part 2


Description BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION: Charles W. Biesanz was born in Winona on October 13, 1915. He was one of four children born to Charles and Maude Biesanz. Biesanz's father was in the stone and gravel business in Winona. After competing grade school at Cathedral School and one year at Cotter High School, Biesanz completed high school at the University of Notre Dame. He then attended Winona State College for two quarters before graduating from St. Mary's College with a degree in economics. After graduation, Biesanz was involved with several business ventures before entering the U.S. Navy in 1942 as a gunnery and fire control officer. He returned to Winona in 1946 and started the Biesanz Stone Company, of which he was president at the time of this interview. Biesanz and his wife raised eleven children. Biesanz became acquainted with flying by doing odd jobs for pilots while in grade school. He was taught to fly by Max Conrad, although he never obtained his pilot's license. While in college, Biesanz would accompany Conrad on his barnstorming tours and sell tickets to the shows and handle ground operations. SUBJECTS DISCUSSED: Conrad was "a seat of the pants flyer" according to Biesanz. In this interview Biesanz relates many interesting stories of the early days of aviation in Winona and in the midwest, all featuring the exploits of Conrad. Several stories involve how lucky Conrad was to have survived some close calls while flying. Other involve the heroism displayed by Conrad in the several instances in which he risked his life to save others. Other portions of the interview involve Conrad's business dealings and how he did everything he could to promote aviation. This interview also covers some of the tragedies in Conrad's life such as the accidental death of his brother, Art and the fire in Winona which destroyed many of his airplanes. Since Conrad marred Biesanz's sister, Betty, we are treated to an insiders look at Max Conrad the man as well as Conrad the flyer. This coupled with Biesanz's eyewitness accounts makes this interview an insightful look into Conrad and the pioneering days of aviation.
Quantity 1 hour sound cassette
18 pages transcript
Format Content Category: sound recordings
Content Category: text
Measurements 00:42:42 running time
Creation Interviewee: Biesanz, Charles W.
Interviewer: Nelsestuen, Barbara
Made in Winona, Winona County, Minnesota, United States
Subjects Winona, Winona County, Minnesota, United States
Made in Winona, Winona County, Minnesota, United States
Dates Creation: 01/27/1977
Credit Line Digitized with support from the Ken and Nina Rothchild Endowed Fund for Business History and Women's History.
Holding Type Oral History - Interview
Identifiers OH 39
Accession Number AV1992.66.2
More Info MHS Library Catalog
Related Collections Oral History - Project, MHS Collection, project: 'Max Conrad and Early Winona Aviation Oral History Project'

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