Alfred Lawson
Alfred Lawson
From Homepage of the
University of Lawsonomy

Who's Who in American Aeronautics
Collection of Phyllis Cato Ferguson
     LAWSON, ALFRED WILLIAM, Aircraft Manufacturer; born, London, England, March 24, 1869; son of Robert Henry Lawson and Mary (Anderson) Lawson.
     Educated: Public Schools
     Professional: Since 1908, aircraft development work.
     Aeronautical Activities: 1908, established magazine "Fly," Philadelphia, Pa.; 1910, established magazine "Aircraft," New York; 1916, sold "Aircraft" and started to manufacture airplanes; established Lawson Aircraft Co., Green Bay, Wis.; built aircraft for government; 1919, established Lawson Aircraft Company, Milwaukee, Wis.; built Lawson Airliner, and 18 passenger cabin airplane; 1920, received contraft for carrying air mail, cancelled at his request; 1925 to date, President, Lawson Aircraft Company, New York.
     Flying Rating: 1913, began flying, Hempstead Field, L. I.; Flying License No. 678, Joint Army and Navy Board.
     Books: 1904, "Born Again"; 1923, "Man Life."
     Present Occupation: President, Lawson Aircraft Co.
     Address: 1819 Broadway, New York; home, Forest Hills Inn, Forest Hills, L. I., N. Y.

Alfred Lawson
This is the first picture taken of the new Lawson Airliner No. 2, known as the "midnight airliner." This ship was designed by Alfred W. Lawson, the inventor of the first airliner and was built by the Lawson Airplane Company of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. This mammoth ship is the largest passenger carrying heavier than air aircraft in the world and was built especially for night service. The cabin is 65 feet long and the wing spread is 120 feet. It is powered by three Liberty motors aggregating 1200 horse-power. The speed of this ship is calculated to be from 120 to 125 miles an hour and it can fly at a height of 25,000 feet or over four miles high. This ship carries enough fuel for a 15 hour flight, therefore it can take the air in New York at about 10 o'clock at night and not come down to earth again until it reaches Chicago at 6 o'clock in the morning, without using all of its fuel. The man standing at the right is Alfred W. Lawson, who recently contracted wi\th the United States Government to carry the United States mail to all of the important cities of the United States. he will use this type of machine for mail carrying as well as for passenger carrying and hopes to have a complete airline service in operation for this work by spring, although this ship within a few days will be put into the air as the first ship for this service and other ships will be added as quickly as they can be built.
from AERIAL AGE Weekly, December 6, 1920.
Photographic Collection of Golden Era Aircraft
Courtesy of Lee Sherry

     If you search the net for "Alfred Lawson +aviation", using Google, you will find about 52 links. Among the most helpful are the following:

     This website offers a number of interesting features including; Who We Are, What's New, Hall of Fame, Nominations and Forward in Flight, the History of Aviation in Wisconsin, a book which may be purchased in their "Shop.". To see a listing of all of the aviators who are honored in the "Hall of Fame," just click on:
Hall of Fame

     You will find that Alfred W. Lawson was inducted in the year 1992. You can read his biography by clicking on his name

Alfred Lawson
Lawson Airliner
Arriving Washington, Sept 19, 1919
Library of Congress Collection, 10-19-07
by Carl Schory, Aeronautical Engine Mechanic
     This detailed account of the Lawson Airplane Company's production of the World's First Airliner, the Lawson Air Liner, involves several members of the Early Birds.To read this fascinating story, just click on the title above.

Only Helicopters Now At Famed Airfield
     Bolling Air Force Base, at Washington, D. C., was named for Raynal C. Bolling, first officer of the Signal Corps, Aviation Section, to be killed in combat during World War I. The field was opened July 1, 1918; forty-four years later, July 1, 1962, its use for operation of fixed- wing aircraft was closed. Special honor was accorded, in the closing ceremonies, to former Commanding Officers of the Base, among whom were two Early Birds. Three other members of our Organization were there, notably General Benjamin D. Foulois; the others were Vincent Burnelli and your historian Paul Edw. Garber.
     One of these Early Birds is the oldest-living former Commander of this Base. General Martin F. Scanlon, as a Major, directed operations at the field as its second leader, from November 1919 to June 1922. He was Commander again from January 1935 for one year. The ninth Commander was another Early Bird, General Howard C. Davidson who served from January 1928 to August 1932. In all, there were twelve former Commanders at the ceremony.
     At the Anniversary dinner that evening in the ballroom of the Bolling Officer's Club, General Allen, who is an energetic member of the National Air Museum Advisory Board, and a staunch friend of the Early Birds, gave a historic review of notable events at the base, illustrated by motion pictures. He made special mention of the Lawson Airliner of 1920. That early transport airplane, embodying many advanced features, and excellent flying qualities, was designed by Early Bird Vincent Burnelli. In the course of an extended cross-country flight, starting from Milwaukee and including visits to several principal cities, it had landed at Bolling. There, a distinguished group of government officials who had come to see this unusual airplane and who had stepped aboard to inspect the interior, were unexpectedly taxied out and airborne to the great concern of these passengers, and watchers on the field who had suddenly realized that if anything tragic happened, the balance of power in our national executive and legislative bodies would have been greatly affected. Happily, Burnelli's engineering skill as embodied in the Lawson Airliner, brought the notable group safely back to earth.
     The decision to terminate airplane flights at Bolling, and also at the adjacent Anacostia Naval Air Station, was reached after a computation of air traffic showed heavy concentration in the Airport, which is just across the river. The Bolling and Anacostia areas are among the few large tracts of land remaining in the District of Columbia, and parts of them may now become available for industrial, residential, and other governmental uses. Part of Bolling will continue as an airfield, but helicopters will be the only aircraft stationed there. At the end of an inpressive day dedicated to a famous Base which has served our nation through two world wars and into the jet and rocket age, the Early Birds and their friends reverently close the last page of a wonderful story. P.E.G.
From The Early Birds of Aviation CHIRP
October, 1962, Number 69

Air Travel De Luxe by New Mail Flyers
from Aerial Age Weekly, October 4, 1920
Courtesy of ee Sherry, 5-23-08
     This page on Lee Sherry's Old Plane Pictures" website offers the following report:

"Chicago---Passengers as well as mail will be carried in palatial air liners on three air mail routes, contracts for which were awarded the Laswon Air Line Company of Chicago by the Postoffice Department...."

     To read the rest of this very informative article, click on the title above.

Alfred Lawson was the author of over 50 educational books
and was the founder of the University of Lawsonomy.
It is located at 4529 Highway 41,
Sturtevant, Wisconsin 53177,
Phone: 1-888-LAWSON-U
email to:

Alfred Lawson
"Lawson Air Liner
built by Alfred Lawson
Photo from collection of Lester Bishop
Courtesy of David Balanky

Baseball Fiends and Flying Machines
Baseball Fiends and Flying Machines:
The Many Lives and Outrageous Times
of George and Alfred Lawson
by Jerry Kuntz
Product Details
Paperback: 238pp
Publisher: McFarland & Company,
Incorporated Publishers
Online Price: $29.95
Member Price: $26.95
from Barnes & Noble
ISBN-13: 9780786443758
ISBN: 0786443758
from Barnes & Noble

It's hard to imagine a wilder pair of brothers than Alfred and George Lawson. Best known as early promoters of professional baseball, they were intense rivals whose shared narcissism led them from one grand scheme to another, both in and away from the game, generating headlines seemingly as they went.

Alfred had a long career as a player, manager, and minor league organizer before gaining notoriety as a utopian novelist, philosopher, economic reformer, cult leader, and early aviation promoter. George was a soldier, vaudeville troupe manager, performing hypnotist, medical quack, evangelist, and anti-KKK crusader who sought to break baseball's color line by founding integrated leagues.


Jerry Kuntz is a baseball historian whose articles on the Lawson Brothers have been published in Base Ball, A Journal of the Early Years and Base Ball: A Journal of the Early Game.

Alfred Lawson died on November 29,1954.

Editor's Note:
If you have any more information on this Early Flier,
please contact me.
E-mail to Ralph Cooper

BackNext Home