Thomas Springer
Courtesy of the CHIRP

Fledgling EBs Introduced to Society Old-Timers

     From the Secretary of the Early Birds there comes to Chirp a series of thumbnail sketches of some of the new members, taken into the organization since the last issue of this infamous sheet.
     Thomas E. Springer, assistant manager of the Douglas factory at Santa Monica, Calif., soloed a Martin TT at Griffith Park in 1915, holds Aero Club certificate No. 509 of that year. For three years he was instructor and test pilot for the Martin company at Los Angeles, before Glenn got into the big league. After that he was test pilot for Douglas until 1930, when he went on production supervision.
courtesy of Steve Remington - CollectAir

       Funeral services for Thomas Eric Springer were held Wednesday, April 7, 1971 at 11:00 a.m. at the Chapel of the Palms, Hollywood Memorial Park, Los Angeles, California. Attending the services were Early Birds Edward A. Bellande, Ralph B. Carter, Howard J. Heindell, Leo B. Kimball, P.H. Spencer, Ivan P. Wheaton, Charles F. Willard and Forrest E. Wysong.
     Springer, known to his friends as "Eric" was born in Tennessee January 23, 1892. He became interested in aviation after reading a book called "Vehicles of the Air" by Victor Loughead. After attending Texas A&M, Springer moved to California and enrolled in the flying school operated by Glenn L. Martin in Griffith Park, Los Angeles, and soloed in 1914. When Martin moved to Cleveland, he took Eric with him as his first employee and test pilot.
     In 1920 Donald Douglas, Martin's Chief Engineer, decided to go to Santa Monica, California and start his own airplane business. He persuaded Springer to return to California as the first Douglas Test Pilot.
     In 1930 Eric transferred to planning and production work, and in 1939 went to the El Segundo, California plant as manager. Later he became Vice President and General Manager and served in that capacity until his retirement in 1957.
     He is survived by a son, Thomas Eric, Jr. of Irvine, California; a daughter, Mrs. John N. Kirkland of Altadena, California; six grandchildren; a brother, L.R. Springer and two sisters.
From The Early Birds of Aviation CHIRP, January, 1972, Number 78
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