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Albert I. Lodwick (pictured above) was born in Mystic, Iowa on March 4, 1904, the youngest son of a coal mine owner/operator. He attended local public schools and worked in his father's coal mining business before beginning his college studies at Iowa Wesleyan College. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1925 and went on to Harvard Business School, from which he received a Master of Science degree in Business Administration in 1927.
After spending two years working on a cattle ranch in Arizona, Lodwick began what would be a life long career in the aviation industry with an appointment as a statistician in a subsidiary of the Curtiss-Wright Corporation in 1929. He worked his way up the corporate ladder of Curtiss-Wright, eventually becoming assistant to the president. Lodwick remained with Curtiss-Wright until 1938, when he resigned to become president of the Stinson Aircraft Corporation. He also continued to serve as an officer or board member of a number companies prominent in the aviation industry, including the Hughes Tool Company.
It was this latter affiliation that brought him into contact with Howard Hughes. Their mutual interest in aviation resulted in both a business and personal relationship. When Hughes made an attempt to set a speed record for an around the world flight in 1938, Lodwick served as his flight operations manager and handled all of the details necessary to make the attempt possible. Due in part to Lodwick's organizational skills, Hughes set a world record for around the world flight of 3 days, 19 hours and 14 minutes.
In 1940, Lodwick purchased an interest in the Lincoln (NE) Flying School and moved its operations from Lincoln, Nebraska to Lakeland, Florida. He renamed the school the Lakeland School of Aeronautics, later the Lodwick School of Aeronautics, and established its headquarters at the Lakeland Municipal Airport. A year later he established the Lodwick Aviation Military Academy in nearby Avon Park, Florida. Both schools were civilian operations under contract to the Army to provide primary flight training to army air force cadets. During its nearly five years of existence, the Lodwick School of Aeronautics admitted more than 8,000 cadets, graduating more than 6,000. The school closed in August, 1945. The site is now the spring training home of the Detroit Tigers baseball team.
Lodwick wasted little time in converting his war time operation into a peace time industry. He incorporated Lodwick Aircraft Industries in February, 1946. The new company engaged in the business of converting war surplus military aircraft to commercial use and contracted with the War Assets Administration to sell war surplus aviation parts and equipment. The company foundered after some early success. The number of military aircraft available for conversion to commercial use dwindled and most of the surplus parts and equipment it contracted to sell were obsolete and had no market. By 1954 the company was moribund. It had lost most of its assets in a bank foreclosure and ceased operations in September.
Lodwick sold his home in Lakeland in 1955 and moved briefly to the Miami area and then to Washington, D.C., where he worked as a consultant to government agencies and business firms. He died in Washington on October 22, 1961 at the age of 57.