from 1929 article 4

The Boeing School of Aeronautics was a flying, airplane design, and mechanic training school at the Oakland Airport, founded in September 1929. It was started by Boeing to compete with other flying schools like the Curtiss Flying School in San Diego. The school started with 16 staff and 100 students (or 14 staff and 125 students according to another source.) The Boeing Frontiers website says they planned on 25 students, but 100 applied, so they expanded to starting classes every 3 months instead of every year. 2 Theophilus Lee, Jr. was the school manager, and George Myers was the director of flying. 5 Hilton F. Lusk was the first dean, though he was only there a year. 3

Notable alumni of the school include Lee Ya-Ching, who was the first woman in China to receive a civil pilot's license; Frederick Howard Buller, who later designedDHC-2 Beaver float plane, widely used by bush pilots in Canada and the U.S.; Ed Yost, the "Father of the Modern Day Hot-Air Balloon"; and Lillian Moses, who may have been the first woman to receive a pilot's license from the school.

Flight students formed the "Flying Jackass Club" made up of students (and some instructors) "who commit 'one of those things' while acquiring their wings." 13 Likewise the master mechanics students created A "Fumblers' Club". 14


Hilton Frank Lusk grew up in Oakland and graduated from Oakland Tech. Before Boeing, he had been a professor at College of the Pacific (now University of the Pacific) where he had started a aeronautics program. He wasn't at the Boeing School long; in September 1930 he left to teach at Sacramento City College 7 and manage the Sacramento municipal airport.

School manager Theophilus Lee, Jr. had been a flying instructor during WWI, later became a Methodist pastor in San Francisco, then became a pilot for the mail service. 9 In 1942 he joined the U.S. Army Air Force as a major to teach. 11

Allen F. Bonnalie was the director of technical instruction c.1931-1938. He had been a pilot during WWI ad was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, 10 and was later an exec with United Airlines.

John W. Thorp was a graduate of the school and later an instructor in engineering drawing and design. He designed the T-5 trainer used by the school, and numerous other aircraft over the years.

In addition to the above, different articles list various names over the years, 3,12 and a 1939 ad in Popular Aviation shows pictures and gives brief biographies of them. 15

Popular Aviation 1939 15

Name Position Years
W.E. Wright director of shop department  
Dr. Edmund Padden flight surgeon  
J. Multon director of class instruction and welding  
C.O. Brinklinger director of maintenance and service work  
R.L. Bonnet, Jr.   1929
Elzor E. Hall   1929
K.A. Kennedy superintendent of placement bureau 1931
K.H. Holmgren editor of Boeing School News 1939
E.J. Krenz instructor in air transportation and communication 1939
Marvin Martin instructor in air transportation and operating procedure 1939
H.R. Bretlinger instructor in maintenance and service 1939
E.J. Camy instructor in aircraft power pants 1939
David Retan instructor in metal fabrications 1939
Leroy B. "Pop" Gregg instructor in flying 1939
Herbert Marsh superintendent of technical instruction 1939
Don L. McDaniel registrar 1939-1940
Wesley B. Davis engines, shops, propellers 1939-1940
Thure Anderson maintenance and service 1939
Robert Borzi radio 1939
Harry Chin drawing, design 1939
W.B. Beckwith meteorology 1939
Allen Johnson maintenance and service 1939
Edward Johnson mathematics 1939
Carl T. Kuhl flying 1939
Walter W. Parkhill metals 1939
Randall Smith welding 1939
Raymond J. Stephan instruments 1939
John F. Turner air law 1939
N.F. Ward metallurgy 1939
G.H. Willingham flying 1939
Carl Kolmodin wood fabrications 1939
Marshall S. Caley avigation 1939
Charles L. Moser radio and communications 1939
C.G. Gutteridge wood fabrications, rigging, doping 1939
Victor Shawe assistant registrar 1940
Mortimer Powell director of aeronautical engineering instruction 1941
Clarence A. Friberg flight instructor 1939-1941
Charles I. Stanton assistant administrator of civil aeronautics 1941
Victor Shawe assistant registrar 1941


Boeing started the school in part to train pilots for its Boeing Air Transport (BAT) company. Through consolidations, BAT became part of United Aircraft and Transport Corporation (UATC), and eventually United Airlines.

The school was initially housed in Hangar No. 5. 5 In 1940 as part of increased national defense preparations, the school built barracks and other new buildings to train enlisted soldiers as aircraft mechanics. 8 The school expanded to 14 buildings and 1,000 students at its peak in 1942.

Boeing absorbed the school functions into the parent company. In 1943, the school facilities became the United Air Lines Training Center which continued to train mechanics under a Navy contract until 1945, before closing. 1,2

See also a selection of ads for the school from the 1930s and 1940s from Popular Aviation magazine.

Today the Oakland Aviation Museum is housed in one of the former school buildings. Hangar No.5 still stands at 8517 Earhart Rd.

1930 dedication 61933 progressClyde Sunderland photo, 1940 expansion

T-5 training craft, designed by John Thorp 1Allan Bonnalie, from San Diego Air and Space Museum

Links and References

1933 ad

  1. Boeing School of Aeronautics on Wikipedia
  2. Learning's always mattered

  3. Hilton Frank Lusk — Master of Aerodynamic Theory

  4. This School of Aeronautics is Different U.S. Air Services September 1929

  5. Flying School Dedication Set for Wednesday Oakland Tribune January 13, 1930

  6. Junior Chamber Pledges Aid To Aviation School at Fete Oakland Tribune January 16, 1930

  7. Will Aid Aviation Sacramento Bee September 4, 1930

  8. Boeing Building Barracks For Students At Air School Oakland Tribune September 24, 1940

  9. Preacher To Be Real Sky Pilot San Francisco Examiner December 10, 1928

  10. British and U.S. Honor Airman for Rescue of Flier Pal in Dog Fight Oakland Tribune April 7, 1937

  11. Veteran Enters His Second War Oakland Tribune October 28, 1942

  12. Student Fliers Learn About Engines At Oakland School Oakland Tribune December 15, 1939

  13. Flying Jackass Oakland Tribune February 8, 1931

  14. 'No Fumbling' Say Pilots Oakland Tribune June 2, 1940

  15. ad Popular Aviation November 1939