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.
The Albert I. Lodwick Photograph Collection was transferred to the Special Collections unit of the Lakeland Public Library in 1988. The photographs and negatives had been stored for more than forty years in a city owned building that had once been used by the Lodwick School of Aeronautics.
The photographs and negatives are in remarkably good condition considering the circumstances under which they had been stored for more than forty years. Some of the prints were apparently beyond salvage and were discarded. The negatives, however, survived remarkably well. They had been stored in individual negative envelopes, which offered them some protection from the constant heat and humidity of central Florida.
The photographs come from a variety of sources. Many of them, particularly those for which negatives exist, were probably taken by a photographer in the employ of the Lodwick School of Aeronautics and Lodwick Aircraft Industries. Others came from newspaper photographers, the War Department, and Lodwick himself.