Charles P. Bailey:
A native of Punta Gorda, Bailey was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross on May 29, 1945 for his European service during the Second World War on behalf of the famed Tuskegee Airmen.
George T. Baker:
A pilot and founder of National Airlines, Baker delivered the first Lockheed Lodestar to National, flying it from California to Florida on November 2, 1940, setting a new coast-to-coast speed record for transport airplanes.
The father of aviation in Florida, and Orlando and Tampa in particular, Beachy flew the first heavier than air craft in Florida over Orlando in February 1910, and also flew Florida's first night flight over Tampa in March 1911.
Leonard W. Bonney:
The father of aviation in St. Petersburg, Bonney was the first to fly over that city on February 17, 1912 in his Wright bi-plane.
Ensign F.A. Brossey:
Along with Lt. Walter E. Lees, set an endurance record of staying aloft in a Bellanca 84 hours and 33 minutes over Jacksonville without refueling.
Arthur Burns "Pappy" Chalk:
Formed the world's oldest international airline by flying from Watson Island in Miami to the Bahamas, starting in 1919.
A native from the Pensacola area, Cochran was a barnstormer and in 1953, the first woman to break the sound barrier. She held more speed, altitude and distance records than any other pilot.
A barnstormer who thrilled thousands at airports throughout the state in the 1920's with her death defying feats, multitudes cheered at "Mabel Cody and Her Flying Circus".
Was the best-known early African-American aviator who tragically died in an aviation accident in Jacksonville in 1926. One of the entry roads into Tampa International Airport is named in her honor
Glenn H. Curtiss:
No one human being probably did more for the field of aviation than Glenn Curtiss, a native of Hammondsport New York. Dubbed "The Henry Ford of Aviation", Curtiss received Air Pilots License Number One in the United States and Air Pilots License Number two in France. His reach was worldwide. A proficient inventor, Curtiss was a good friend with Alexander Graham Bell. He opened numerous flight schools throughout the country, the most in San Diego (the first flight school in the United States), Newport News, Buffalo, Atlantic City and Miami. In addition to his seemingly endless aircraft models, and the Aero-Car, Curtiss was also instrumental in the creation and development of Miami Springs, Hialeah and Opa-Locka. The economic powerhouse that is South Florida today, and in particular Miami, owes much of creation of its prosperity to this incredible man.
General James H. Doolittle:
Doolittle was an aviator who participated in Miami's "All American Aerial Maneuvers" annual air shows throughout the 1930's, and trained along with his Raiders, trained at Eglin Field prior to their famous raid on Tokyo in 1942.
A world famed aviator, Earhart left Miami Municipal Airport in her Lockheed Electra at 5:56 A.M. on June 1, 1937 for an around the world trip of which she came up missing and was never seen again.
Robert G. Fowler:
Flew the first successful intercontinental flight leaving San Francisco on September 10, 1911 and arrived in Jacksonville on February 8, 1912
Was the father of aviation in Miami by being the first to fly over it in his Wright bi-plane as Mayor Everett Sewell and residents celebrated the city's fifteenth anniversary.
"But what about their teeth?" is a line most people may remember Godfrey from in his television ads for toothpaste, but the fact is that Godfrey was an accomplished pilot holding certification for almost every type of machine that was in the air during his lifetime. His close association with aviation in South Florida, due in large part to his friendship with Eastern Airlines president Eddie Rickenbacker earned the naming of a major roadway in Miami Beach in his honor.
Julius Lunceford Gresham:
Was the commander of Civil Air Patrol Coast Patrol Base Number 5 in Flagler Beach under whose command protected Florida's Atlantic coastline from German U-Boats.
Russell F. Holderman:
Was an aviation pioneer who was a barnstormer, airmail pilot and naval reserve pilot. Holderman frequently flew in his Curtiss JN-4 advertising local real estate in Sarasota in the late 1910's.
Daniel "Chappie" James Jr.:
Born in Pensacola in 1920, James was a member of the famed Tuskegee Airmen during World war two. James also flew combat missions in Korea and Vietnam, and on August 29, 1975, became the first African-American four-star general.
Ruth Bancroft Law:
Law became the first woman December 17, 1915 at Seabreeze, Florida; she became the first woman to loop an airplane. Law was also the first woman to pilot a plane from which a parachutist jumped.
Lt. Walter E. Lees:
Along with Ensign F.A. Brossey, set an endurance record of staying aloft in a Bellanca 84 hours and 33 minutes over Jacksonville without refueling.
Lindbergh's aerial feats were almost as monumental as Glenn Curtiss's. He is most remembered as being the first man to fly across the Atlantic Ocean in a Ryan M-2 monoplane he dubbed "The Spirit of St. Louis". The aircraft left Roosevelt field outside of New York City on May 20, 1927 and arrived at Paris France Le Bourget Field 33 and a half hours later.
Lindberg was a good friend of Pan American Airways founder Juan Terry Trippe and performed numerous record breaking firsts from Key West Meacham field, Dinner Key in Miami and the 36th Street Airport (now Miami International airport).
Albert I. Lodwick:
Was the founder of two large civilian aviation schools during the Second World War, Lodwick Aviation Military Academy in Sebring, and Lodwick School of Aeronautics in Lakeland.
John A.D. McCurdy:
Was the first pilot to transmit an air to ground wireless message. This occurred in a flight over Palm Beach in 1911.
Alexis B. McMullen:
Dubbed the "granddaddy" of aviation in Florida, McMullen was the first director of the aviation division of the Florida State Road Department (now the Florida Department of Transportation) in 1933.
One of the most notable early pilots in Florida, Musick piloted the first scheduled international flight on October 27, 1928 when he flew a Pan American Airways Fokker F-7 Tri-Motor from Key West Meacham Field to Havana, Cuba. Additionally he flew the first scheduled flight on September 15, 1928 to leave the 36th Street Airport (one Miami International Airport) bound for Key West Meacham Field with 340 pounds of airmail and two passengers on behalf of Pan American World Airways.
Edgar C. Nilson:
A barnstormer who plied his trade flying a Curtiss JN-4, Nilson avidly promoted aviation in Florida. He started the Bartow Airplane Corporation and Orlando Airlines Inc. He served at no pay as the first manager to Orlando's Municipal Airport in 1928. Although Lincoln Beachy was the first to fly in Orlando (the first heavier than air flight in Florida), Nilson was dubbed by locals as "the father of aviation in Orlando".
Agustin Parla Orduna:
Was the first to fly all the way from the U.S. (Key West) to Cuba on May 19, 1913.
World War One flying ace and hero Eddie Rickenbacker jumped into commercial aviation when he founded Florida Airways on February 11, 1926. Running both mail and passengers between Jacksonville and Miami Municipal Airport, Rickenbacker's airline folded by December of that year. Undaunted, Rickenbacker secured funding from a philanthropist named Harold Pitcairn for a new start up airline. Named in honor of its economic benefactor, operations started on December 1, 1928. The airline would shortly change its name to Eastern Air Transport, and lastly to Eastern Air Lines, and became one of the largest airlines in the world. Rickenbacker was loved and revered by most who worked with and for him.
Started Rogers Air line, Miami's oldest aviation company using a fleet of eight seaplanes operating from a base near 7th street in the 1920's.
Igor I. Sikorsky:
A Russian immigrant, without the contributions of Sikorsky and his various forms of amphibious aircraft, Pan American airways would not have gone on to achieve such success in the Caribbean.
Peter J. Sones:
A native of Haines City, Sones broke several airmail records in the 1930's as a pilot for National Air Transport. He also received the Exceptional Civilian service Medal for his service to the Civil Air Patrol Coastal Patrol Station Number 13 at Sarasota.
Juan Trippe was the founder and commander of the greatest airline in the world - - Pan American World Airways. To many South Floridians he was considered an adopted son as the Pan Am bases at Dinner Key and 36rh Street Airport dominated commercial business for three decades. Although the British launched commercial jet travel first with the DeHavilland DHL-106 Comet I several year's earlier, Trippe's Pan American Airways truly ushered in the jet age on October 26, 1958 as the Clipper America, a Boeing 707, began its flight from New York to Paris, France.
Known in Florida as "Mr. Aviation", Yonge set a new endurance record on May 29, 1929 when he piloted his Curtiss Jenny, dubbed "Hotsey Totsy" over Jacksonville for 25 hours and ten minutes on May 20, 1929.
"La Floridiana" is ©2003 by William Moriaty. Webpage design and all graphics herein (except where otherwise noted) are creations of Nolan B. Canova. All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2003 by Nolan B. Canova.