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Founder Spotlight

Frank Purdy Lahm

Frank Purdy Lahm was an American aviation pioneer. Though he started in the cavalry, he developed an interest in flying from his father, a balloonist. Lahm earned one of the first civil qualification certificates for balloonists. He later met the Wright brothers and learned to fly and became known as the, “nation’s first military aviator.” In 1916 he became a career aviator serving in the United States Army Air Service Air Force. He served until the age of 64, rising to the rank of brigadier general.

Facts about Frank Purdy Lahm:

  • He graduated from West Point and started in the cavalry.
  • He learned how to fly from Orville and Wilbur Wright in 1907 and became the Army’s first officer to make a flight in the military’s first airplane.
  • During WWI, he organized the balloon service of the American Expeditionary Forces.
  •  Lahm commanded the Air Service of the 2nd American Army.
  • After the war Lahm became the assistant chief of staff and helped develop new training centers.
  • In 1926- 1930 he organized the Air Corps Training Center at Randolph Field.
  • Lahm’s unofficial title: “The Father of the West Point of the Air”
  • Lahm completed his journey from wood to wire to jet power when he flew a T-33 at the age of 78.
  • Frank Lahm’s ashes were spread over Randolph Air Force Base, TX.