|EDWARD ALBERT (AL) JOHNSON
|Al Johnson at Ellington Field, 1917.||Al Johnson & wife Loraine, 1924.|
Walter Lees was an instructor at the Curtiss School at the foot of Jersey Street in Buffalo. Walter's first students were Al Johnson and Fish Hassell.
Al Johnson and Jimmy Johnson were attached to McCook Field as pilots. Sergeant Alexander Klemin, who was in full charge of the research department and wanted to learn to fly, ordered himself to conduct observation flights in a number of ships. He taught Al and Jimmy the theory of flight, while they taught him to handle the controls. The results were almost disastrous to all parties concerned. The Johnsons couldn't learn the theory of flight, while Klemin had a tendency to be naturally heavy-handed at the controls. His peculiar antics in the air were a source of never-ending delight to the McCook personnel. For hours, while in the air with the Johnsons, Klemin would launch into arguments and discussions, shouting over the noise of the motors, attempting to coordinate theory with practice. And it would wind up with his taking the stick and nearly cracking up the plane.
Walter was instructing Army pilots for World War I at Ellington Field, Houston, Texas. Al Johnson was also an instructor at the field with Walter. Al is pictured in The First Consignment at Ellington Field.
Shortly after the war, in the Spring of 1919, the Bureau of Military Aeronautics, of which Colonel Thurman Bane was Chief in Washington, and the Bureau of Aircraft Production were consolidated at McCook Field as a unified technical and development center, under the command of Colonel Bane. Only a sprinkling of officers was carried over from wartime days. Jimmy Johnson , Al Johnson, Frank Hambly, and J.D. Hill were a few of the pioneer civilian instructors and test pilots who still carried on.
In the fall, Walter went with Johnson Airplane and Supply Company, located in Dayton, Ohio. He worked with Al Johnson and his good friend from the Curtiss flying school in San Diego, Jimmy Johnson. Al and Jimmy were not related.
Open house at the Dayton Municipal Airport enabled thousands of persons to visit the field. E. A. Johnson, Johnson Flying Service, was in charge of a two-day stunt and night flying program.
via email from Dave Dunlap, Jr., 8-10-06
My dad, David Dunlap, Sr., and Al Johnson (Early Bird) were brother-in-laws. He was my uncle and Lorain, his wife, was my mother's sister making her my aunt. I flew with my uncle many times in those Golden Years.
As a young boy, I have fond memories being raised on the Dayton Municipal Airport in the late twenties and early thirties. Al Johnson founded that Airport for the City Fathers of Dayton. It was here that I flew with Amelia Earhart in he famous, green colored "Beechnut" Auto gyro.
Back in Jersey City, when dad was Chief Engr. for Col. Clarence Chamberlin of (Crecent Aircraft ), I flew with Chamberlin in one of his cabin aircraft. He flew my sister and I over the Empire State Building around 1928.
There is too much to tell at this time, so I'll stop for now.
For your information, there is a picture of my father, sitting with Edson Gallaudet in the "Chummy Flyabout." on your web site. Dad was very young in this picture.
Thank you for your response and I will be forwarding more data soon.
Dave Dunlap Jr,
Laguna Niguel, Ca.
If you search for "Johnson Airplane and Supply Company", using the Google search engine, (2-5-06), you will find several more. Perhaps the most helpful is the following.
From 1905-1915 he was president of Motor Express & Motor Drayage Co., of San Francisco
He go interested in aeronautics and spent May-October, 1915, at the Curtiss Buffalo school. He joined the Curtiss company and was its British representative. There he took further instruction on land planes at Hendon.
Upon his return to the States he married Loraine Caroline Carrier, Dec. 18, 1916, while he was a Signal Corps instructor at Memphis. He had joined the Signal Corps as one of a number of civilian instructors operating at Ashburn Field, Chicago; Memphis, Rantoul, Selfridge, Ellington and Gerstner in turn. The second half of 1918 he was test pilot at McCook Field.
After armistice he flew the New York-Cleveland air mail and subsequently did experimental work.
In 1928 he established the Johnson Airplane & Supply Co., of Dayton, O. He quit commercial flying in 1937 after 22 years in the air.
In World War II he served in a technical capacity at Wright-Patterson field. Our friend died July 14, 1949, when his car crashed a column of an overhead bridge on the highway north of San Diego, after a sudden heart attack. Survivors include his wife, Loraine; son Edward Jr. and three daughters.
Among the EBs attending was a group flown by Billy Parker; Hillery Beachey, Walter Lees, Geo. H. Prudden and B. R. J. Hassell.
courtesy of Steve Remington - CollectAir
If you have any information on this Early Bird,
please contact me.
E-mail to Ralph Cooper