In 1940, aviation executive Albert 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.
In 1990 the City of Lakeland and the Lakeland Public Library invited the Lodwick School of Aeronautics’ former students, staff, and flight instructors to return to Lakeland to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the school’s establishment in September 1940. As part of that event Lakeland Public Library Special Collections Librarian Hal Hubener recorded interviews with 17 of the former students, staff, and instructors of their recollections of their experience at the school. Those interviews were subsequently transcribed and the transcriptions are presented here. They offer a fascinating look into the minds of young men preparing for war.