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This information comes from the biographical file for pilot Maitland, CM-056000-01, 20, et seq., reviewed by me in the archives of the National Air & Space Museum, Washington, DC.


New York Times 3/30/1923, 7/8/1927 and 3/30/1990.


Your copy of the "Davis-Monthan Airfield Register" with all the pilots' signatures and helpful cross-references to pilots and their aircraft is available at the link. Or use this FORM to order a copy signed by the author. ISBN 978-0-9843074-0-1.


"Military Aircraft of the Davis Monthan Register, 1925-1936" is available at the link. This book describes and illustrates with black & white photographs the majority of military aircraft that landed at the Davis-Monthan Airfield between 1925 and 1936. The book includes biographies of some of the pilots who flew the aircraft to Tucson as well as extensive listings of all the pilots and airplanes. Use this FORM to order a copy signed by the author. ISBN 978-0-9843074-2-5.


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Lester J. Maitland

Lester J. Maitland was born before airplanes on February 8, 1899. He accumulated a long history of aviation accomplishments before he visited Tucson. He landed five times at the Davis-Monthan Airfield between 1927 and 1933, each time flying military aircraft.

He entered the Air Service in the latter part of 1917, completing his flying training in Austin, TX and commissioned a second lieutenant in May 1918. He attended gunnery school and served six months in test work at Wilbur Wright Field, Dayton, OH. In 1923 he set a world speed record by flying an Army Curtiss racer 244.97 MPH. At that time he was the world's fastest human being.

In June, 1927 he teamed up with Albert F. Hegenberger to be the first pilots successfully to cross the Pacific Ocean by air from San Francisco, CA to Wheeler Field, Oahu, TH.

Maitland signed the Register at Tucson five times between May 23, 1927 and April 29, 1933. But, his landing on June 20th was historic. As prelude to the Pacific flight, Maitland and Hegenberger left Wright Field in Dayton on June 15, 1927 and arrived at Tucson June 20, 1927. Albert Hegenberger was one of his four passengers. He flew an unidentified Fokker C-2 transport aircraft. Most probably it was 26-202, the one he and Hegenberger flew across the Pacific. Image, right, is from the New York Times of July 8, 1927, which reported the details of the flight.

The photograph below, courtesy of Tim Kalina, shows Hegenberger on the left and Maitland posed in front of their Fokker on June 18, 1927, two days before they reached Tucson.

Albert Hegenberger & Lester Maitland, June 18, 1927, Location Unknown (Source: Kalina via Web)
Albert Hegenberger & Lester Maitland, June 18, 1927, Location Unknown (Source: Kalina via Web)

The caption below dates the photo, but provides no suggestion of location.

Albert Hegenberger & Lester Maitland, June 18, 1927, Location Unknown, Caption (Source: Kalina via Web)
Albert Hegenberger & Lester Maitland, June 18, 1927, Location Unknown, Caption (Source: Kalina via Web)

They carried as passengers civilians Fred Herman (to check fuel consumption en route), Bradley Jones (to compute astronomical charts and tend navigation equipment) and James Rivers (for aircraft and engine maintenance). Please follow the link to view a brief motion picture clip of Maitland, Hegenberger and their Fokker on the ground at Tucson.

All their passengers are dutifully signed in the Register. They departed westbound from Tucson the same day and began their trans-Pacific flight from San Francisco on June 28 at 7:00 AM.

They covered the 2,400 miles in 25 hours 49 minutes and 30 seconds. Coming on the heels of Charles Lindbergh's trans-Atlantic flight a month earlier, their victory over the Pacific Ocean made great news.

Popular Aviation, March, 1931 (Source: PA)



Whereas Lindbergh's flight was interpreted as hailing great possibilities for civil commercial flights across the Atlantic, the Maitland-Hegenberger flight was called by the Army a great military opportunity to bomb foes 1,000 miles off shore and return. Click this link for another image of Maitland on this site. Maitland was a large man compared to his fellow airmen. The unusual article, left, from the March, 1931 issue of Popular Aviation magazine (PA), suggests he weighed over 180 pounds.


An interesting finding is that Maitland was involved with an early aviation-themed comic strip. He was the writer for Tim Tyler's Luck by Lyman Young (debuted August 1928). The link states that, "Maitland was a distinguished aviator having been the first (with crew) to fly to Hawaii in 1927 in a Fokker and served in many capacities with the Army Air Corps setting other important records. Maitland's name fell off the strip in 1933. Lester Maitland died at the age of 91 in 1990."

And speaking of Lindbergh, below is a postal cachet signed by Maitland commemorating Lindbergh's visit to Pittsburgh, PA after his trans-Atlantic flight. Thanks to site visitor Jeff Staines for sharing this cachet from his collection. Another is at Register pilot Wilmer Stultz's page.

Postal Cachet, August 3, 1929 (Source: Staines)
Postal Cachet, August 3, 1929 (Source: Staines)

Maitland was an aide to Billy Mitchell and to the first Assistant Secretary of War F. Trubee Davison. At the outbreak of WWII he was commanding officer of Clark Field in the Philippines when it fell to Japan.

He rose to Brigadier General becoming the commanding officer of the 386th Bomber Group in the European Theater of Operations. After the war he became a state director of aeronautics in Wisconsin in 1949 and in Michigan from 1950-1956. He changed careers and became an Episcopal priest in Michigan in 1957. He died in a convalescent home in Arizona on March 27, 1990 at age 91.


Below has to be one of the most celebrity-rich images of the Golden Age of Flight. Assembled outside the White House sometime in 1928 we find L toR, Lester Maitland, Clarence Chamberlin, (unknown in doorway), Art Goebel, Charles Lindbergh, Ruth Elder, George Haldeman, Bert Acosta, George Noville (behind in glasses), A.F. Hegenberger, Richard Byrd, Paul Shulter, Charles Levine, Bernt Balchen, William Brock and Edward Schlee. Ten of the 16 signed the Davis-Monthan Register.

Aviation Celebrities, ca. 1928
Golden Age Celebrities

The occasion of the photograph was the presentation of the Hubbard Medal to Lindbergh by President Coolidge.


Dossier 2.2.128

UPLOADED: 01/13/07 REVISED: 04/02/07, 02/01/11, 02/13/12, 06/23/14, 11/28/16

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


http://www.cafepress.com/content/global/img/spacer.gifThe Congress of Ghosts is an anniversary celebration for 2010.  It is an historical biography, that celebrates the 5th year online of www.dmairfield.org and the 10th year of effort on a project dedicated to analyze and exhibit the history embodied in the Register of the Davis-Monthan Airfield, Tucson, AZ. This book includes over thirty people, aircraft and events that swirled through Tucson between 1925 and 1936. It includes across 277 pages previously unpublished photographs and texts, and facsimiles of personal letters, diaries and military orders. Order your copy at the link, or use this FORM to order a copy signed by the author.  ISBN 978-0-9843074-4-9.


Just two months after Maitland and Hegenberger's transpacific flight, a civilian race was staged from Oakland, CA to Honolulu. Called the "Dole Race," it was won by Register pilot Art Goebel. An account of that event can be read in the book you can order below.

Winners' Viewpoints: The Great 1927 Trans-Pacific Dole Race is available at the link. Use this FORM to order a copy signed by the author. What was it like to fly from Oakland to Honolulu in a single-engine plane during August 1927? Was the 25,000 dollar prize worth it? Did the resulting fame balance the risk? For the first time ever, this book presents the pilot and navigator's stories written by them within days of their record-setting adventure. Pilot Art Goebel and navigator William V. Davis, Jr. take us with them on the Woolaroc, their orange and blue Travel Air monoplane (NX869) as they enter the hazardous world of Golden Age trans-oceanic air racing. ISBN 978-0-9843074-3-2.



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