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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.


Some of this information is from the "Blue Book of Aviation", Roland W. Hoagland, Ed., published in 1932 by The Hoagland Company, Publishers, Los Angeles, CA. 292 pp.

The cover of this handsome book is deeply engraved, and the fly leaves are printed with terrific art deco accents. Inside are brief biographies of contemporary aviation figures, as well as tables of various data.


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Lawrence G. Fritz was born at Marine City, MI on August 7, 1896. He graduated college with a degree in marine engineering. He was married twice (first wife deceased) and had two children. He held Transport Pilot license No. 337. He had a long and broad career in aviation, participating in military, barnstorming, commercial and civil flying. He died November 4, 1970 in San Francisco after suffering a heart attack at his home in Saratoga, CA.
L.G. Fritz, ca. 1932

The Blue Book of Aviation (cited, left sidebar), 1932, cites him as, “Known widely as a pioneer scheduled air transport pilot, … first engaged in aviation when he joined the U.S. Army Signal Corps, Aviation Section, in December of 1917. He went overseas in 1918 as a member of the 282nd Aero Squadron, A.E.F., and was stationed in England for the duration of the war, attached to the Royal Air Force.

“Following his return to the United States, he was a marine engineer in civil life for a short time. In 1921, he re-entered the air service at Brooks Field, Tex. Following his graduation in advanced flying at Kelly Field, Texas, he continued with the U.S. Army Air Service until 1924.

“His first venture in commercial aviation was in 1924 when he engaged in barnstorming. The next year he was pilot for the Stout Metal Aircraft Corpn., and later flew for the Ford Motor Company’s air line.


On February 15, 1926 Captain Fritz and Captains Ross Kirkpatrick and Dean Burford (who signed the Register three times during 1928-29), started the service over the newly established Ford company routes. Fritz was the first to depart flying one of the Liberty-powered 2-AT Air Transports east toward Cleveland, Ohio. Then, Kirkpatrick departed from the Ford airport in the second 2-AT and headed toward Chicago. Meanwhile, Burford was taking off at the same time from Chicago's municipal airfield and heading toward Detroit.

A fleet of six Ford single-engine air transports (the famous 2-AT series) flew over 1,000 trips between Detroit-Chicago-Cleveland during the first year of operations of the Ford Air Transport Service. Most of these planes were later sold to Florida Airways, a predecessor company of today's Eastern Airlines.


From 1927 to 1929, he was chief pilot for the Maddux Air Lines, Los Angeles, Calif., and was vice-president in charge of operations for the Safeway Air Lines, 1929-31.

“During his civil aviation career, he was pilot of the plane carrying the first load of contract air mail for the United States Post Office Dept., in Feb. 1926, on the Ford airways; he piloted the first tri-motored plane across the continent to Los Angeles, and he made the first successful landing and take-off in a tri-motor (J-5 Ford) at Truckee, Calif., in the high Sierras. This feat, accomplished for the Fox Film Corpn., was effected at an altitude of 7,000 feet, in a clearing of 1,500 feet.” Photo, above, is from the Blue Book.

He signed the Davis-Monthan Register 14 times between 1927 and 1930. He carried multiple passengers on the first 12 of those flights, as he was then chief pilot with Maddux Air Lines (see above). Among the Register aircraft he flew to Tucson are the Lockheed Vega NC7044, Ford trimotors NC428H, NC4532, NC5577, NC7117, NC7118, NC7582, and NC9639, and Northrop Alpha NC933Y.

L.G. Fritz Posed With Fokker F-32, Date Unknown (Source: Underwood)
L.G. Fritz Posed With Fokker F-32, Date Unknown (Source: Underwood)





At left, a photograph of Fritz standing in front of the port engine nacelle of a Fokker F-32. This photo is shared with us by friend of dmairfield.org, John Underwood. There is a photograph of an F-32 at aerofiles.com. It was a large and impressive aircraft for the time. Please direct your browser to NC334N on our Peterson Field Web site.

This is a four-engined aircraft, two engines per nacelle. Note the twin-bladed propeller and cylinder arrangement of the pusher engine behind Fritz' left shoulder. The front engine, over his right shoulder, has a three-bladed propeller.








L.G. Fritz, ca. 1945

During WWII, Fritz was a Brigadier General in the Air Transport Command's North Atlantic division. Photo, right, is from an unidentified newspaper, dated October 4, 1945.

Time Magazine (December 4, 1944) had this to say about his pioneering efforts in North Atlantic transport during wartime:

“The man who runs this airway is tough, gruff Brigadier General Lawrence G. Fritz, onetime operations vice president for the T.W.A. When he was A.T.C.'s operations chief in Washington, he used to assert: "The North Atlantic can be flown both east and west on regular schedule in winter as well as summer."

"One day in the fall of 1942 he stepped into a B24, flew it out into the North Atlantic seeking the worst weather "front" that he could find. His plane picked up a load of ice, lost flying speed and dropped into a spin. Fritz, a veteran airline pilot, straightened her out just a few hundred feet from the water. He came back still convinced that he was right. He was handed the job of proving his point as C.O. of the North Atlantic Division.

"In the winter of 1943-44 the division flew more traffic over the Atlantic than in the whole summer of 1942. Traffic is up to more than 40 crossings a day. Last month more passengers, cargo and mail moved over the Army's North Atlantic run than during any month last summer (except during the period immediately before and after the invasion).

"Larry Fritz was too old and too precise a hand to try to beat the North Atlantic by pounding across by guess and by God.







Larry Fritz, Date Unknown
Larry Fritz, Date Unknown




"The weather hazard was beaten by establishing a huge network with alternate fields for emergencies. Weather stations were set up—53 of them—and radio communications were installed to get their observations to the forecasters. The network is operated by officers who learned their job in the operations end of the U.S. airlines. The stations are manned by thousands of G.I.s.”

Photograph, left, of Brigadier General Fritz. The image is inscribed at lower right to fellow Register pilot Robert Love. It says, "To My Good Friend, Bob Love. Sincere Best Wishes. Larry Fritz."






He was a pilot for TWA. Photograph, below right, shows Fritz on the gangway of a TWA liner, date unknown. The photo is shared by John Underwood.

L.G. Fritz (R) With TWA Staff and Airplane, Date & Location Unknown (Source: Underwood)
L.G. Fritz (R) With TWA Staff and Airplane, Date & Location Unknown (Source: Underwood)



Dossier 2.1.

THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 12/23/05 REVISED: 02/13/08, 06/26/09, 03/05/10

The Register

Site visitor John McAvenia writes: "Lawrence G. Fritz was my grandfather.... He died 11-4-70 in San Francisco after suffering a heart attack at his home in Saratoga, California. His all time favorite plane was his Curtiss Jenny and he loved being a pioneer in aviation and Henry Ford's Chief Test Pilot. He was a very proud retired general the day we put a man on the moon."

He also provides this news article from early 1942 that includes Fritz' comments on the crash of the T.W.A. aircraft carrying Carol Lombard (download PDF 219KB).

Thanks to John for sharing this information.



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 the 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.


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