James B. "Big Jim" La Mont
1889 - 1964
La Mont started his working career as a steamboat captain in New York. He went to work for Glenn Curtiss at Hammondsport, New York, as a motorcycle mechanic and factory worker. Jim La Mont helped Curtiss rebuild the Langley Aerodrome, an airplane that preceded the Wright Brothers airplane, to help prove that the Wrights did not own the idea of flying. La Mont also helped Curtiss build the famous "June Bug" early airplane. La Mont met aviatrix Ruth Law, and became her regular mechanic, going with her on tour through the United States, Europe, and Japan. La Mont also worked as a mechanic for Lincoln Beachey, and later for Matty Laird at Chicago, building the Laird airplanes. It was there he met Speed Holman, who hired him to work for Northwest Airways in 1928. During the war, La Mont was loaned to Northwestern Aeronautical at St. Paul, to advise them on, and oversee production of, Waco military gliders they were building under contract to the Army. In 1946, La Mont retired from Northwest with the title of Superintendent of Inspection in the maintenance department.
1892 - 1944
1896 - 1963
The Larrabee Brothers opened the first fixed-base operation at Speedway Field in 1920. Security Aircraft Company began service and repair of itinerant aircraft, selling fuel and oil, offering flight training, and selling aircraft. Their hangar floor was the concrete racetrack. They provided planes for both the St. Paul Dispatch Flying Circus and the Minneapolis Daily News Flying Circus, and Wilbur even performed as a wing-walker for the circuses.
Wilbur was a veteran of World War I and flew early flights between Minneapolis and Duluth. He was a member of the 109th Observation Squadron. Weldon managed the business end of the company.
Major General Doyle E. Larson
Born in Madelia, Minnesota, Larson enlisted in the Air Force in 1951 and studied Russian at the Army Language School in Monterey, CA. After earning his wings in 1953, he was assigned to Air Defense Command and flew fighters. He was USAF chief of Language Training from 1958 to 1962.
He earned a BA Degree at Hardin-Simmons University and an MA at Auburn University. Continuing his military education, he attended the Armed Forces Staff College and the Air War College.
From 1962 to 1970, he commanded three reconnaissance squadrons. During three years in Vietnam his squadron was named the Best Reconnaissance Squadron in the Defense Department. Larson was assigned to the Pentagon in 1971 as the Senior Military Representative of the National Security Agency. Promoted to General in 1974, he became the Director of Intelligence of the Pacific Command, followed by being named Director of Intelligence of the Strategic Air Command in 1977 and then Commanding General of USAF Security Service in 1979. He was the leading developer of Command and Control Warfare in the Department of Defense.General Larson retired in 1983 after 32 years of active duty and returned to Minnesota where he became a volunteer spokesman for military affairs for the Senate.
1933 - _____
Bob Leaders was born in Ottertail, Minnesota and grew up on the family farm. He joined the US Army and trained as a paratrooper. He took flying lessons with the Army's flying club. He soloed in 1954 and received his Private License in the same year. He went on to earn a Commercial license and seaplane rating. Following his service, he used the GI Bill to attend Spartan School of Aeronautics at Tulsa, OK. to earn his mechanics license.
In 1969 Leaders became owner of a farm at Clear Lake, MN and soon afterward started an airport there. The airport became a landmark to local airmen who needed a home for their aircraft, necessary repair such as engine overhauls, float changeovers, hot coffee and airplane talk. He became a successful Cessna dealer as well. Leaders Airport is the home of EAA Chapter 551 and the local skydiving center. Leaders continues to this day with repairs, annual inspections, and rebuilding worn-out airplanes. Clear Lake is a well-known mecca of local aviation.
Charles A. Lindbergh
1902 - 1974
Lindbergh grew up on a farm in Little Falls, Minnesota. His father was a State Congressman from 1907 to 1917, representing the sixth district. After graduation from Little Falls High School in 1918, the younger Lindbergh spent two years in engineering studies at the University of Wisconsin, then succumbed to the urge to fly and enrolled in a flight school in Nebraska, becoming a wing-walker, parachute jumper, and barnstormer. He purchased a surplus Jenny and continued barnstorming. In 1924, he entered the Army flying school at San Antonio and became an airmail pilot after his training. Lindbergh convinced St. Louis business interests to fund his attempt at a transatlantic solo flight, and in 1927, made the crossing, immediately becoming the most important aviation figure in the world. In the latter part of 1927, he made an 82-city tour of the United States, inspiring thousands of young men and women to get into the flying. He met and married Anne Morrow and in 1932, their first child was kidnapped, amid sensational publicity. The Lindberghs retired to France, and while there, Lindbergh assisted with the development of an artificial heart. During the 1930s, Lindbergh, on behalf of the U. S. Government, inspected the status of aviation in European nations, reporting back on the strengths and weaknesses to U. S. intelligence. He went on record as favoring noninvolvement in a European conflict by the U. S. and faced severe criticism. After America entered the war, Lindbergh served as technical advisor to the government, and test pilot for United Aircraft. He flew fifty combat missions in the Pacific and shot down a Japanese aircraft. Eisenhower commissioned him a Brigadier General in the Air Force Reserve. He won the Pulitzer Prize for the book about his record flight, Spirit of St. Louis.
1916 - 1997
Born in Quincy, Illinois, Longlet learned to fly in 1932, attended mechanics schools in St. Paul and earned his A & P license. He worked briefly for Mid-Continent Airlines, the Mod Center at Holman Field during World War II, and at Patterson Dental before moving to Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing (3M) to co-create the flight department. He served as pilot, maintenance test pilot and maintenance supervisor there.
During his 30 years with 3M, Longlet served as a consultant to nearly every corporate flight department around the country. His reputation extended internationally.
Goodwin R. Luck
St. Paul native Goodwin Luck and his brother Edward joined the Marine Corps reserve in 1935. Both served in the maintenance section. After getting his aeronautical engineering degree from the University of Minnesota, he became a Marine pilot and flew F3F-2 carrier biplanes until World War II began. He then flew rescue and reconnaissance missions in the J2F Duck, evacuated wounded personnel from Guadalcanal and performed a daring rescue mission near Munda in 1943. He helped plan the mission that shot down Japanese Admiral Yamamoto the year.
After the war Luck was stationed at Cherry Point, North Carolina, and at El Toro airbase in California. He joined Northwest Airlines in 1946 as a power plant engineer and spent 35 years with Northwest, retiring in 1982.
Fredrick M. "Freddie" Lund
1897 - 1931
Born in Alexandria Township, Minnesota. Lund grew up on the family farm and attended school at Nelson, Minnesota. He left the farm to take up work as a mechanic, and when World War I was declared, joined the Air Service and trained at San Antonio. He was sent to the 4th Pursuit Squadron at Toul, France. Stricken with tuberculosis following the war, he returned to the states, not expected to live. He struggled back to strength and joined the Gates Flying Circus as a stunt flyer, working for a while in Hollywood, as a movie double, where he earned the nickname "Fearless Freddie." Lund joined the Waco Aircraft Company as a test pilot and flew around the country performing stunt exhibitions, representing Waco. Fred performed the first outside loop ever done in a commercial airplane. He was World Aerobatic Champion in 1930. His wife, Betty Lund, was a well-known woman stunt pilot. Lund died in October, 1931, when his plane was cut in two in a mid-air collision during an air race in Kentucky.
Jack P. Lysdale
1913 - 1992
Born in Chicago, sparked by Lindbergh's famous flight, Lysdale began flying in 1929 with L. J. Sohler at the Mankato Airport. He worked for the Ryan Aircraft Company in California before he returned to takeover operation at Mankato in 1936 and ran the airport until buying the FBO business at Worthington in 1940. There he provided CPT training through 1944 and headed the CAP program. In 1944 he took over operation of Victory Airport in Brooklyn Park, running a Navy training program until coming to Fleming Field in 1949. After the war he was appointed sales agent for the Reconstruction Finance Corporation while also becoming the first Midwest Cessna aircraft dealer.Managing Fleming Field besides operating Lysdale Flying Service, Lysdale purchased military airplanes himself, reconstructing B-17 and PB-4Y bombers and other planes, sending them on to private owners. In the 1970s he restored the last Boeing Hamilton Metalplane to flying condition and toured the air show circuit with it, gaining many trophies.