Hyde-Pearson, Leonard Brooke
||February 10, 1923
||March 7, 1924
||Hazelhurst, New Jersey
||October 16, 1923 - Cleveland
Hyde-Pearson was born in 1894 in Toronto, Canada. During the first World War, Leonard B.
Hyde-Pearson flew for the Royal Air Force. During that service,
he received the British Meritorious Service Cross and the
Royal Victorian Order. When the U.S. entered the war, Hyde-Pearson
traveled to Kelly Field, Texas, where he trained army pilots.
After the war, he tested airplanes for a series of companies.
While a test pilot, he became the first to fly an all-metal
airplane over the city of Washington, D.C., and made one of
the then-recorded fastest roundtrip flights between Boston
and New York City, carrying news of President Harding's
funeral. In 1922, when the Mexican government purchased 26
airplanes, Hyde-Pearson was one of the pilots who traveled to
Mexico to help train pilots there.
In 1923, Hyde-Pearson began work as an airmail
pilot. In August of that year, he was one of the pilots who
took part in the first transcontinental airmail flights. The
service began on Tuesday, August 19. Hyde-Pearson carried
the mail from New York City to Cleveland that Friday. Between
September 3-15, 1923, Hyde-Pearson was one of the airmail
pilots chosen to participate in an air carnival at Mitchel
Field Air Station in Mineola, Long Island, New York. The pilots
demonstrated the quick takeoff and landing skills needed
to unload and load mail airplanes, transferring cargo from one
airplane to the next.
Hyde-Pearson's career lasted just over
a year. Early in the morning of March 8, 1924, while flying
the mail from Bellefonte, Pennsylvania to Cleveland, Ohio,
in de Havilland airplane #327, he encountered a bad snowstorm
near Grampian, Pennsylvania. In the limited visibility, Hyde-Pearson
died when his airplane crashed into a tree atop a mountain.
The New York Times
filed this report of the crash and discovery of the pilots'
airplane and body.
The body of Brooks Hyde Pearson, an airplane
mail pilot was found in the burned wreckage of his airplane
late today on the Porter farm, near here, by M. C. Porter,
who had spent the day searching for the missing airplane. He
reported that the machine and its contents had been destroyed.
The airplane was seen above the village late
yesterday in distress in a fight with a severe snowstorm.
A short time later a crash was heard and the sound of the
Porter said he took up the search at daylight,
and after spending hours scouring the hills discovered the
wreckage in a small ravine late in the afternoon. His attention
was first attracted by the odor from the burning wreckage.
Approaching the airplane, he saw a man's
form underneath, and after ascertaining that the pilot was
dead, notified the Bellefonte mail authorities. Porter declared
that everything in the airplane had been burned.
Hyde-Pearson gained lasting recognition for
a letter he left with his mother, only to be opened upon his
death. Mrs. Kate Hyde-Pearson gave the letter to airmail officials.
In it, Hyde-Pearson told his mother, "I trust your eyes may never see this. But should God desire that you do
at least know that He has called me, like many more who have
given their lives for the future of this wonderful game."
In his letter, Hyde-Pearson had included this
poem he dedicated to his fellow airmail pilots:
My Beloved Brother
Pilots and Pals
I go west, but with cheerful heart.
I hope whatever small sacrifice I have made
May be of some use to the cause.
When we fly we are fools, they say.
When we are dead, weren't half-bad fellows.
But everyone in this wonderful aviation service
Is doing the world far more good than the public can appreciate.
We risk our necks; we give our lives;
We perfect a service for the benefit of the world at large.
They, mind you, are the ones who call us fools.
But stick to it, boys. I'm still very much
with you all.
See you all again.