Len Morgan

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A.G. Leonard Morgan (1922–2005)

Albert George Leonard ("Len") Morgan (March 23, 1922 – March 11, 2005) was an American aviator, writer, publisher, entrepreneur, photogrammetrist, and investor.

Early life and education[edit]

Len Morgan was born in West Terre Haute, Indiana. He was the son of British immigrants, father John ("Jack") Kingsley Morgan, a Presbyterian Minister and mother Juliet ("Jill") Freda née Gardner Morgan, a homemaker. He graduated from high school in Louisville, Kentucky in Spring, 1941.[1]

Canada and military service[edit]

Len Morgan left for Canada to volunteer for the Royal Canadian Air Force in his late teens. He, along with eleven others from the United States, earned his RCAF Wings on November 21, 1941. After the attack on Pearl Harbor and the U.S.' entry into World War II, he transferred to the United States Army Air Forces in Egypt and flew in Africa and the Middle East.

He attended college at the University of Louisville, on the G.I. Bill, during the 1947 and 1948 school years, following the war. He continued flying for the Kentucky Air National Guard until 1949.[2]

Photogrammetrist[edit]

From 1946 through 1949, while serving in the Kentucky Air National Guard, Morgan worked for Park Aerial Services, Inc., of Louisville, Kentucky. His position with the firm was photogrammetrist. In this position, he used photogrammetry to make maps from aerial images.[1]

Braniff International Airways[edit]

One of the P-51 Mustangs he flew for the Kentucky Air National Guard was "borrowed" to travel to a short-notice job interview with Braniff International Airways in Dallas, Texas, in 1949. Morgan flew for Braniff for over 33 years.

Airman Morgan rose to the Captaincy of every aircraft type that Braniff International Airways flew during that period, from the Douglas DC-3 to the Boeing 747. From 1949 until shortly before the 1982 cessation of operations, Braniff pilots operated British Airways and Air France Concordes on cooperative interchange flights between Dallas and Washington, DC. The planes, owned by BA/AF and in their respective liveries, then took on BA/AF crews and continued on to London and Paris, respectively. Captain Morgan did not participate in this operation, however, preferring to remain as Captain of the Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet.[2][3]

Mr. Morgan possessed a Federal Aviation Administration issued Airline Transport Pilot certification with Type Ratings in the Convair 340/440, Lockheed L-188 Electra, Boeing 707 and 720, Boeing 727, and Boeing 747 aircraft.

Aviation author[edit]

During and after his airline career, Morgan wrote over thirty books and hundreds of magazine articles on a wide variety of aviation subjects. In 1955, he founded Morgan Aviation Books that specialized in the publication of aviation and airline related subjects. Morgan operated his publication firm until 1975. During this time and until his retirement in 1999, he continuously authored various books and articles.

Morgan's best selling book that he personally authored was titled The P-51 Mustang from the Famous Aircraft Series of books. The P-51 Mustang sold over 50,000 copies.

His monthly column, "Vectors", was a prominent feature of Flying magazine for over twenty years. An accomplished storyteller, he wrote not only of airplanes but also shared gentle wisdom about the people and experiences he encountered over his flying career. Richard L. Collins, former editor of Flying, eulogized, "[Morgan] was as eloquent as anything ever published in Flying. . . In his last "Vectors" column in 1999, Len closed with a reflection on his bond with the readers. 'So, good friends, it was good knowing all of you. Goodbye, wherever you are.'" [1]

Family[edit]

Morgan married Margaret Clark nee May, on November 27, 1943. They have two children: son Terry Len, and daughter Juliet Kathryn. Len was the brother of David P. Morgan, editor of Trains Magazine from 1953 until 1987, who died in 1990.[1][4]

Len Morgan quotes[edit]

"The way I see it, you can either work for a living or you can fly airplanes. Me, I'd rather fly."

"An airplane might disappoint any pilot, but it'll never surprise a good one."

"Watching the Dallas Cowboys perform, it is not difficult to believe that coach Tom Landry flew four-engine bombers during World War II. He was in B-17 Flying Fortresses out of England, they say. His cautious, conservative approach to every situation and the complexity of the plays he sends in do seem to reflect the philosophy of a pilot trained to doggedly press on according to plans laid down before takeoff. I sometimes wonder how the Cowboys would have fared all these years had Tom flown fighters in combat situations which dictated continually changing tactics."

"Margaret [is] the loving centerpiece of all that matters. Her love and encouragement for 60 years are the foundation of anything I have accomplished. I have been truly blessed."

"There are two kinds of men in this world: the selfish ones that just want to make a name for themselves, and the generous people that just want to make a difference."

"True, there was no teenager sport to equal tumbling about the glistening cumulus on a summer morning, rolling, looping, stalling, spinning (while supposedly practicing steep turns), then cruising back to our little grass field with its single hangar and neat rows of yellow biplane trainers. Check the windsock, follow the landing drill exactly and join the downwind leg at 800 feet, reduce speed and look for other planes, turn base, chop the power and descend to 400 feet. Then the slow glide down final with the engine muttering in idle to cross the fence and level off with wheels skimming the wet clover. Finally, the moment of truth: bump...bump...and slowing to a walk. Taxi to the flight line, shut down, hear the ticking of the cooling engine and inhale the exotic aroma of gasoline and dope and leather --- aware of being truly blessed. You never forget such moments."

Publications[edit]

Len Morgan authored or produced over 30 book titles on aviation related topics, including eleven authored publications:

  • The P-51 Mustang, 1963
  • The P-47 Thunderbolt, 1963
  • The Planes The Aces Flew, 1963
  • The Douglas DC-3, 1964
  • The AT-6 Harvard, 1965
  • Airliners Of The World, 1967
  • Crackup!, 1968
  • Aviation Hall Of Fame, 1970
  • View From The Cockpit, 1985
  • Reflections Of A Pilot, 1987
  • Vectors, 1992

And two titles coauthored:

  • 50 Famous Tanks With G. Bradford, 1967
  • The Boeing 727 Scrapbook with his son Terry L. Morgan,1968

As well as 26 publications that he produced between 1961 and 1986.[1]

Membership[edit]

  • Airline Pilot's Association
  • American Aviation Historical Society
  • Braniff International Silver Eagles

Retirement and death[edit]

After his retirement from Braniff International in 1982, Len Morgan continued writing and publishing books. After closing Morgan Aviation Books in 1975, he continued his writing and publishing as a self-employed person until his final retirement in 1999. In 1988, he was a consultant for the United States Department of Justice, Washington, DC. In 1993, he was engaged in investing in the Palm Harbor, Florida, area, where he moved his family in 1990, and continued this venture until 1999.

In 1990, Morgan created a privately published DVD of the history of Braniff Airways, Inc. covering the years 1928 through 1982. He spent many hours of intensive research that resulted in a unique using of the aircraft that Braniff flew throughout its history to accurately tell the Braniff story. The long disputed painted color of Braniff's first aircraft used on a scheduled flight in 1928, a Stinson Detroiter, was determined to be burgundy in color. Captain Morgan contracted Kodak Corporation to perform an analysis of the only black and white photo known to exist of the aircraft to determine the correct fuselage color.

In the January 2004, issue of Flying Magazine, Len Morgan returned to discuss his retirement, thoughts on flying, and his initial battle with cancer.

Len Morgan died March 11, 2005, after a long battle with cancer. Flying Magazine Senior Editor Richard L. Collins memorialized his dear friend and colleague in the June 2005, issue of the lauded aviation magazine that Mr. Morgan had contributed to for the past two decades. Mr. Collins ended the poignant memorial by stating, after quoting Mr. Morgan crediting his wife for giving him the support to make his lifetime of accomplishments possible, "so have we, for having had this kind, gentle, talented man as a friend and a colleague over all these years."[2]

At Mr. Morgan's request, there was no funeral or memorial services. His family accompanied him on his last flight to scatter his ashes in the Gulf of Mexico and was poignantly remembered by his only daughter Kathryn Morgan:

"I rode with my Dad on his final flight yesterday, March 24. We took off out of Clearwater Airpark around 1425 on Runway 16. My friend and fellow pilot asked which direction we were going and I said due west. The Gulf of Mexico connects two of Dad's favorite homes, Texas and Florida. The thirty-four years in Texas were his best times, but he settled into the sunny days of Florida for the last fifteen years and grew to love it.

My daughter, Morgan, was our backseat pilot. She adored her grandfather and had spent every other weekend for the last year coming home to see him from the east coast of Florida. She was with him when he died and did not want to miss his final flight.

The skies were overcast but the ceiling was 8000'. It took us only a couple of minutes before we were flying over the intercoastal waterway and into the vastness of the Gulf. I held Dad on my lap for the last part of his journey and told him again what a wonderful man he was. I silently said the Lord's Prayer and we slowed the plane down to 60 kts. With Morgan holding the window open, I kissed him goodbye and released him.

The final journey of my Dad, Len Morgan, has been completed. I hope he knows that his wife and daughter and my two daughters thought he was a giant of a man. Rest in peace, Dad."

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Albert N., Marquis (2001). "Albert George Leonard Morgan". Who's Who in America: 156. 
  2. ^ a b c Collins, Richard L. "Richard Collins Bids Len Morgan Farewell". Flying Magazine. Retrieved December 22, 2013. 
  3. ^ Nance, John J. (1984). Splash of Colors The Self Destruction of Braniff International. New York: William and Morrow Company. pp. 124–125. ISBN 0-688-03586-8. 
  4. ^ Frailey, Fred. "The Man They Called D.P.M.". Trains Magazine. Retrieved December 23, 2013. 

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