Clock Tower

Out of the Clock Tower

Hello and welcome to the Greene County Archives' blog, "Out of the Clock Tower".  Please join us as we share information on archival issues, news, special events, and highlights from our collection.

Before the archives program began in Greene County in 1996, permanent records were stored in every conceivable space, in basements, garages, and closets. Usually they were in boxes of various shapes and sizes, although seldom adequately labeled, but occasionally they were just in loose piles of books and papers. Most notable were the old records stuffed into the clock tower of the County Courthouse, where they shared their home with pigeon droppings.

Now, there is a clean, environmentally controlled, well appointed location for the county archives, where our historical records are housed in standard sized boxes on steel shelves. We have taken note of their journey in the name for our blog.

View All Posts

Jul 06

Dr. Lewis A. Jackson: Aviation Pioneer, Educator, and Inventor by Amy Brickey

Posted on July 6, 2018 at 8:38 AM by Melissa Dalton

We recently had a “Who is it? Where is it? What is it? Wednesday” Facebook post asking people to correctly identify a picture of Dr. Lewis A. Jackson. Our commenters certainly did not let us down as they correctly guessed who he was and added extra facts about Dr. Jackson’s life and achievements. However, some people might not know about Dr. Jackson still, so this week’s blog post is all about Dr. Lewis A. Jackson (Fig 1), his commitment to Greene County, and his passion for flight, education, and experimentation.

Fig 1. Dr. Lewis A. Jackson (PNG)
Fig 1. Dr. Lewis A. Jackson

Dr. Lewis A. Jackson was born in Angola, Indiana, on December 29, 1912. Dr. Jackson seemed to always have a passion for airplanes, building model airplanes and reading all about planes in various books as a child. In 1927, when he was just 15 years old, he took his first airplane ride in a Swallow OX-5 (Fig 2). From there, Dr. Jackson designed and flew his own bi- and mono-plane hang gliders. He even purchased an incomplete Alco Sport Monoplane (Fig 3) to which he attached a motorcycle engine. Unfortunately, a wind storm destroyed the invention before Dr. Jackson could test it, but he never let that dampen his inventive spirit.
Fig 2. Swallow OX-5 (JPG) Fig 3. Alco Sport Monoplane (JPG)
Fig 2. Swallow OX-5                                             Fig 3. Alco Sport Monoplane

In 1930 Dr. Jackson began serious flight training with various instructors. From 1930 to 1932 he learned to fly in various airplanes: a Travelaire, a Waco 10, an American Eaglet, and a Curtiss Jenny. In 1932 he took his first solo flight in his own Waco 10 (Fig 4). From 1932 to 1937 Dr. Jackson traveled around Indiana and Ohio performing aeronautical stunts and flying exhibitions, also called barnstorming, in order to pay for college, and earned his Transport Pilot’s License. In 1939 Dr. Jackson received a Bachelor of Science degree from Marion College, now called Indiana Wesleyan University, in his second passion: education. In the same year, Dr. Jackson had his pilot license re-evaluated and had his license converted to a Commercial Pilot’s License with Instructor Rating.

Fig 4. Waco 10 (JPG)
Fig 4. Waco 10

In 1940 Dr. Jackson joined forces with Cornelius Coffey to open the Coffey and Jackson Flying School in Chicago at Harlem Field. After completing courses in advanced aeronautics and flight mechanics, he moved to Tuskegee to help train airmen how to fly (Fig 5). He became the Director of Training at the Army Air Corps 66th Flight Training Detachment where he taught aeronautics to pilots who would eventually fly in the 99th Pursuit Squadron.

Fig 5. Dr. Lewis Jackson as Director of Flight at Tuskegee (JPG)
Fig 5. Dr. Lewis Jackson as Director of Flight at Tuskegee

Dr. Jackson moved to Ohio after World War II and became an FAA Flight Examiner. Between 1947 and 1960 he tested over 400 pilots for flight certification, even creating an aircraft computer called NAV-KIT which many pilots used to help them obtain their licenses. In 1948 he received a Master’s Degree from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and in 1950 he received his Ph.D. in Higher Education from Ohio State University. True to his love of aviation, his dissertation was titled, “A Study of Aviation Courses and Facilities in Higher Education in the United States with Predictions and Future Trends.” In his spare time, he delighted in another passion, designing and building experimental airplanes. “An airplane in every garage” was Dr. Jackson’s dream. His experimental airplanes were meant to both fly and be street drivable, after which they could be folded up and stored in the common persons’ garage (Fig 6).

Fig 6. Dr. Jackson and his experimental airplanes (PNG)Fig 6. Dr. Jackson and his experimental airplanes (PNG)
Fig 6. Dr. Jackson and his experimental airplanes (PNG)
Fig 6. Dr. Jackson and his experimental airplanes

In 1967, the Greene County Commissioners approved the need for a regional airport, an upgrade from the original flying field built in the 1920s. In order to have a regional airport, however, the Commissioners needed to create a Regional Airport Authority Board. Because of Dr. Jackson’s passion, education, and skills as an aviator, he was appointed to the board and served on it for many years. During this time, Dr. Jackson also held various titles within the realm of education. He was the Acting President and Vice President for Administration at Sinclair Community College, as well as Acting President and President of Central State University. He also received many awards including: Distinguished Alumnus Award, Indiana Wesleyan University Alumni Association; Frontier Award, First Frontier, Inc.; Pioneer Achievement, Trail Blazer Award, Links, Inc.; Special Recognition, Ohio Department of Transportation, Division of Aviation and FAA; and Certificate of Appreciation, Xenia Area Development Corporation.

In the early 1990s, Dr. Jackson suffered a stroke which put an end to his flying career, but not his love of flight, education, or invention. He still tinkered and toyed with ideas and experimental planes until he passed away on January 8, 1994. One more award was still waiting in the wings for Dr. Jackson, however. Eight months after his passing, the Greene County Regional Airport was renamed the Lewis A. Jackson – Greene County Regional Airport in his honor (Fig 7). The airport even offers a scholarship called the Lewis A. Jackson Aviation Scholarship which can be used for one of three things: to introduce high school and college age students to flight training; to help a student pilot obtain a Private Pilot's License; or help a licensed pilot obtain an advanced rating.

Fig 7. Lewis A. Jackson - Greene County Regional Airport (PNG)
Fig 7. Lewis A. Jackson - Greene County Regional Airport

Dr. Jackson lived an incredible life and gave an amazing amount back to Xenia and Greene County. To further celebrate Dr. Jackson’s life, come on into the Archives and see our exhibit about both Dr. Jackson and the airport!

Until Next Time...

References: space/Aero space information page/bio/Dr LewiL Jackson.pdf
Some images courtesy of Dr. Lewis Jackson’s family
Greene County Records Center and Archives


You must log in before leaving your comment