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PILOT STORIES: McGinn, Leo J.

Air Mail Service Began: May 10, 1923
Air Mail Service Ended: August 31, 1927
Total Hours Flown: 593.58
Total Miles Flown: 60,937
Assignments: Maywood, Illinois
  Oct 16, 1923 – Omaha, Nebraska
  Sept 1, 1926 – Maywood, Illinois
  Mar 1, 1927 - Cleveland, Ohio
  May 16, 1927 - Maywood, Illinois

Early in the spring of 1926, McGinn was making his night run of mail from Cleveland to Chicago when he flew straight into a bad combination of wind, rain and fog while approaching the shores of Lake Michigan. McGinn started circling in the fog over the city to find his location, looking for lights. His fuel running out, he thought his time was up when a barrage of lights and people rushed up before him. "The whole thing was twisted on its ear," said Leo, afterwards. "It seemed made of fantastic domes and towers like some Oriental palace. There was a large gilded archway in the middle. Chicago never looked like that to me."

Did you know?In the fog, McGinn's airplane had flopped onto its side and came down almost directly over the entrance to a Chicago amusement park. Fortunately, he was able to recover, find the landing field and land safely. McGinn later recalled that "I thought sure enough I'd crashed and gone straight to heaven. I thought that queer-looking arch must be the pearly gates."

McGinn went to work for National Air Transport after contractors took over the airmail service. In 1928, he was killed while flying the mail between Cleveland and Chicago for NAT. McGinn's airplane crashed during a snowstorm in Huron, Ohio. McGinn was thrown clear of the cockpit during the crash and was killed on impact.

Leo. J. McGinn  
  McGinn's forced landing report for July 20, 1926
Click on the photos to view a larger image.

(top left) McGinn

(bottom right) McGinn's forced landing report for July 20, 1926
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