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Thanks to Guest Editor Bob Woodling for help researching this page.

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I'm looking for information and photographs of pilot Flo and his airplane to include on this page. If you have some you'd like to share, please click this FORM to contact me.

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LEONARD STANLEY FLO

 

Leonard Flo, 1928 (Source: Web)
Leonard Flo, 1928 (Source: Web)

 

Leonard Flo, Ca. 1930 (Source: Web)
Leonard Flo, Ca. 1930 (Source: Web)

 

Leonard Flo landed once at Santa Monica, Wednesday, August 19, 1931. He carried one unidentified passenger in the Bird BK he identified as NC772Y. Based at Detroit, MI (see advertisement, below), they did not enter a destination in the Register. Flo noted in the comments column of the Register, "H.C. Derby." The Bird was owned by Fred Stern II. The "H.C. Derby" is likely shorthand notation for the 1931 National Transcontinental Sweepstakes Handicap Air Race in which Flo was a contestant.

Photographs, left and right show Flo a couple of years apart. Photograph, left, is from the Sawtelle (CA) Evening Tribune of January 24, 1928. The right-hand portrait was from Flo's flight school brochure ca. 1931 (see his advertisement, below).

Flo served in the U.S. Army Air Corps during the 1920s. I'm not sure if he served in WWI, but I doubt it, because he was born in 1902, which would have made him barely 12 years old at the onset of hostilities. One source documents five accidents suffered by Flo during 1925. Four of them were on June 2, 1925, June 8, 1925, June 18, 1925 and November 11, 1925. This last accident was the result of wing failure on a Thomas-Morse near Dayton, OH. The report of the failure, and the resulting parachute jumps by Flo and his mechanic, is at the link (PDF 216 Kb, 2pp.).

U.S. Airmail Postal Cachet Signed by Leonard Flo, April 1, 1926 (Source: Staines)

 

Corsicana Daily Sun (TX), November 27, 1928 (Source: newspapers.com)
Corsicana Daily Sun (TX), November 27, 1928 (Source: newspapers.com)

 

A year later he was flying the air mail from Tampa to Jacksonville, FL. At right, courtesy of Jessica Staines, is a U.S. postal cachet signed by Flo and postmarked April 1, 1926.

Public Hearing Letter, April 5, 1928 (Source: Web)
Public Hearing Letter, April 5, 1928 (Source: Web)

 

A few years before his landing at Santa Monica, in July, 1927, Flo placed 6th in the National Air Tour. He won $1,250 for his efforts. He flew a Stinson SB-1, NC2707 (not a Register airplane) and carried three passengers, Austin F. Bennett, Newton D. Skillman and James Houllhouff. This REFERENCE, chapter 3, summarizes the 1927 Tour activities.

In April, 1928, right, he asked the Board of Park Commissioners to petition the Ann Arbor, MI Common Council (I'm not sure why Ann Arbor) to support his management of the proposed new Municipal Airport.

In November, 1928 Flo attempted a non-stop, solo flight from Canada to Cuba as documented in the Corsicana Daily Sun (TX) of November 27th, left. Notice the reports from individual cities which reported on Flo's passage. After Punta Rassa, FL, he was forced to land at Key West, FL because he became ill from the caffeine capsules he took to stay awake through the long flight.

The Daily Deadwood Pioneer-Times (SD), November 29, 1928 (Source: newspapers.com)

 

 

Huntington Press (IN), November 30, 1928 (Source: newspapers.com)

 

At Key West Flo declined to go to a hospital, preferring to stay the night in a hotel, planning to complete his flight the next morning. Indeed, he did depart and landed at Havana the next day as reported in the Daily Deadwood Pioneer-Times (SD) of November 29, 1928, right. Flo's flight made national news. The Ardmore, OK Daily Ardmoreite of December 20, 1928 also reported the event, as did the Huntington Press (IN), left.

Two years later, the 1930 U.S. Census had Flo living at 511 Miller Avenue, Ann Arbor, MI (on Google Earth, the home today appears to be a business, the Wee Wisdom Daycare Center). Flo was 26 years old and lived with his mother and head of household Severina Flo (49 years old), brother Spencer (24) and sister Bertha (20). Flo gave his occupation as, "Manager of Aviation Field" in the "Aviation" industry.

Haggerty Field (Source: Dearborn Historical Facts, 2004)

 

Unsourced News, April 10, 1930 (Source: Web)

More about his work as "Manager of Aviation Field." Two years later, right, his business was inaugurated by Governor Fred W. Green at Haggerty Airport. Haggerty Field, left, was located in Dearborn at the northwest corner of Ford Road and Wyoming Avenue. Its evolution from the 1930s to when it closed in 1941-42 is described at the link. If you want to know more about Dearborn, MI as a community than you ever throught you would, click the link to the 2004 source in the Haggerty Field history caption, above (PDF 9Mb). The PDF is OCR'd for word search.

Below, the contemporary location of Haggerty Airport viewed with Google Earth. I outlined with red the approximate, inverted L-shaped field boundaries. North is up.

Site of Haggerty Airport, 2014 (Source: Google Earth)
Site of Haggerty Airport, 2014 (Source: Google Earth)

The red "X" at right is the location of the old DeSoto automobile manufacturing plant. Today the building is torn down, leaving only the concrete slab. The site of the airfield is now a tank farm, the abandoned Ford-Wyoming drive-in theaters (note the arched parking rows), some abandoned land at the north and what appears to be the maintenance garage of Tri-County International Trucks near the intersection of Ford & Wyoming (the sign is readable in Google Earth).

By 1931, Flo owned and operated a major flight training operation at Haggerty named the Leonard Flo Air College. Popular Aviation (PA) magazine, June, 1931, published a full-page advertisement for his business, below. This was one of many ads of the same type that appeared regularly in the magazine through the 1930s. The juxtaposition of his Dearborn location to other aviation industries in town was made clear in the ad.

 

Leonard Flo Aviation School, Popular Aviation, June, 1931 (Source: PA)
Leonard Flo Aviation School, Popular Aviation, June, 1931 (Source: PA)

Below, from the San Diego Aerospace Museum (SDAM) Flickr Stream, is a photograph of Flo in front of a building at Haggerty Field. According to a site visitor, the woman is most likely his mother, Severina Flo. Date is probably mid-1930s.

Flo and Unidentified Woman at Haggerty Field (Source: SDAM)
Flo and Unidentified Woman at Haggerty Field (Source: SDAM)

 

The Daily Illini, July 7, 1931 (Source: Web)
The Daily Illini, July 7, 1931 (Source: Web)

 

Flo also competed in the 1931 National Air Tour. He got off to an inauspicious start when the tail skid on his Bird cabin Model E, NC855W (not a Register airplane), broke and it took him a half hour for repairs. The 1931 Tour attracted only 14 contestants due to the Great Depression. Flo placed 14th. NC855W is below, left. Note the text under the photograph regarding the delay at start.

Bird Cabin NC855W (Source: Forden)
Bird Cabin NC855W (Source: Forden)

 

We learn, too, of the further delay of Flo and NC855W due to engine failure, which probably explains the last-place finish. The engine failure and its consequences were further reported in the Daily Illini (student newspaper of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, IL), July 7, 1931, right.

From the Air Tour reference linked above, chapter VII, we learn that his passengers were Mrs. Louise Sheppard (note misspelling in the Illini article), Al Molo and Floyd Harmon.

 

 

Regarding Flo's military career, he was in the Air Corps starting in 1923 and went through the Army flight schools. Regarding WWII, ancestry.com cites an enlistment date of November 18, 1942 and release date of October 16, 1946.

 

San Mateo Times, March 4, 1948 (Source: Woodling)

 

Moberly Monitor-Index (MO), October 12, 1951 (Source: newspapers.com)

According to records at ancestry.com, he reenlisted March 1, 1952 and was released upon his retirement May 1, 1962 (he would have been 58 years old). He had achieved the rank of colonel. However, an article in the Moberly Monitor-Index (MO), October 12, 1951, right, states that he was assigned to command the Sedalia Air Base, Sedalia, MO as of that date, which precedes his reenlistment by about five months. Lt. Col. Leonard S. Flo commanded the 340th Flying Training Group from October 20, 1952 to February 18, 1953. At that time, the Sedalia Base was home of the 340th Bombardment Wing. If you can help resolve the five month discrepancy, please let me KNOW.

Boat Grounding, Milwaukee Sentinel, June 8, 1961 (Source: MS)
Boat Grounding, Milwaukee Sentinel, June 8, 1961 (Source: MS)

The hiatus between 1946 and his reenlistment in 1952(?) was spent relocating to southern California and managing a flight service in San Mateo. His responsibility was cited in the San Mateo Times, March 4, 1948, left.

 

 

Dubuque (IA) Telegraph Herald, Monday, May 4, 1959 (Source: Woodling)

 

Flo contracted cancer during the late 1950s and lost his pilot certificate. He took up boating and, as reported in the Dubuque (IA) Telegraph Herald, Monday, May 4, 1959, left, set off on a one-way, north to south navigation of the Mississippi River in a small boat. This article was accompanied by a photograph of Flo's 10-foot motor boat. It had a small outboard engine and no cabin or superstructure, which had been removed. The reason for needing a low profile on his boat is described in the article.

In 1961 he attempted a 60-day trans-Atlantic voyage in a 25-foot motor boat. Motor Boating magazine in July, 1961 exhibited photographs of his 24-foot boat, discussed the preparations for the voyage, including fuel capacity, proposed route and survival gear.

The voyage got off on the wrong foot (shades of the 1931 National Air Tour) when he was grounded in Lake Superior by a storm. The Milwaukee Sentinel (MS) June 8, 1961, documented the initial days of the event, above, right.

 

 

 

 

 

Flo 's Proposed Trans-Atlantic Boat (Source: Motor Boating)
Flo 's Proposed Trans-Atlantic Boat (Source: Motor Boating)

 

His boat, from the Motor Boating magazine reference, is at left.

El Paso Herald-Post, June 23, 1961 (Source: Woodling)
El Paso Herald-Post, June 23, 1961 (Source: Woodling)

 

Two weeks after he started, the El Paso, TX Herald-Post of June 23, 1961 reported Flo's cancellation of the trip, right. It seems he reconsidered the fuel capacity of his small boat and calculated that he would fall 100 miles short of completing the longest leg of his journey between Greenland and Iceland. Discretion won and he canceled his trip.

Albert Lea (MN) Evening Tribune, February 28, 1973 (Source: Woodling)

 

 

 

Leonard Flow was born August 25, 1902 and died February 23, 1973. His obituary from the Albert Lea (MN) Evening Tribune, Wednesday, February 28, 1973 is at left.

He appears to have done it all as far as Golden Age aviation was concerned. He flew in the military, flew the airmail, raced, transported passengers and operated a flight school and an airfield. He gave and received an equal measure.

Flo has excellent news coverage in newspapers.com. Most of the coverage was for his Havana flight and his competitions in National Air Tours (1927 and 1931). His military work was less covered. Flo was buried at the Ft. Bliss National Cemetery in El Paso, TX. He flew with Transport pilot certificate T7336.

 

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THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 07/30/14 REVISED: 02/19/16, 02/25/16, 12/13/16