Descriptive Finding Guide for the Louis E. Gordon Personal Papers SDASM.SC.10058

Alan Renga
San Diego Air and Space Museum Library and Archives
2001 Pan American Plaza, Balboa Park
San Diego 92101

Language of Material: English
Contributing Institution: San Diego Air and Space Museum Library and Archives
Title: Louis E. Gordon Personal Papers
Identifier/Call Number: SDASM.SC.10058
Physical Description: 0.36 Cubic Feet One Box
Date (inclusive): 1901-1964
Abstract: Louis E. Gordon was the mechanic on Amelia Earhart's trans-atlantic flight and later worked for TWA. This Collection relates to his life.

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open to researchers by appointment.

Conditions Governing Use

Some copyright may be reserved. Consult with the library director for more information.

Preferred Citation

[Item], [Filing Unit], [Series Title], [Subgroups], [Record Group Title and Number], [Repository “San Diego Air & Space Museum Library & Archives”]

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The materials in this Collection were donated to the San Diego Air and Space Museum.

Biographical / Historical

Louis Edward “Slim” Gordon was born Lewis Elwood Avaritt on March 4, 1901 in Collin County, Texas. In 1919, Mr. Gordon joined the Army Air Corps as a flier. His love for motors led to his career as a flight mechanic and pilot. Mr. Gordon was transferred to the 20th Bombing Squadron at Kelley Field, San Antonio, Texas for motor school. He then worked on two tri-motored Caproni planes and one Handley Page plane. Gordon became chief mechanic at the proving grounds in Aberdeen, Maryland and later transferred to the bombing squadron at Mitchell Field where he was involved in the International Air Races. During the War he also was foreman of servicing operations in Natal, Brazil which at the time served as the jumping off point for flights to Africa. After seven years in the service, he was honorably discharged from the Army Air Services in May, 1926, with the rank of Staff Sergeant. Gordon then went work as a mechanic at the Philadelphia Rapid Transit Air Service who was operating Fokker tri-motored aircraft. After being laid off in 1926 he went to work as a mechanic for R. J. Reynolds Airways Inc. from May, 1927 to April, 1928 on Ford Trimotors. Mr. Gordon left this job to participate with Amelia Earhart and pilot Wilmer “Bill” Stultz as flight mechanic on a transatlantic flight. The plane named “Friendship” a Fokker FVIIb/3M was built in Holland in 1928 for then Lieutenant Commander Richard E. Byrd for contemplated use in his Antarctic exploration. Commander Byrd then sold the plane to Lady Guest of London, England who sponsored the Earhart flight. The flight left from Trepassey Harbor, Newfoundland on June 17, 1928. It landed at Burry Port Wales, United Kingdom 20 hours and 40 minutes later. Mr. Gordon contracted through Mechanical Science Corporation for $5,000.00 for his services on the flight. The money was deposited with R.E. Byrd at Byrd Antarctic Expedition and held for payment when the contract was fulfilled. Upon returning to the United States, Miss. Earhart and the crew were given a ticker tape parade in New York and a reception with Calvin Coolidge at The White House. Telegrams of congratulations were received from many well- wishers including a telegram from the American Legion. A luncheon was held for the crew of the Friendship by the Women’s Committee of the “Air League of the British Empire” in London on June 25, 1928. He married Miss Ann Bruce of Brookline, Mass., July 20th, 1928 whom travelled with him after the flight to various receptions and events. They subsequently divorced in 193 and a newspaper article quoted Mr. Gordon as saying he just didn’t make enough money for her. Mr. Gordon was invited and attended a conference hosted by the Royal Air Club of Italy in Rome for the International Association of Transoceanic Pilots on May 24, 1932. He gave up flying in 1938 after what was termed as “several questionable landings”. On June 2, 1941 Mr. Gordon legally changed his name from Lewis Elwood Avaritt to Louis Edward Gordon. He then went to work for TWA Transcontinental as a Senior Mechanic-Maintenance. He remained with that company until 1964 moving up to Aircraft Inspector at Mid Continental International Airport. He was employed as Chief Mechanic at Scranton Airport with Scranton Airways from August 5, 1939 to May 22, 1941 and left for a position as Senior Mechanic at Transcontinental & Western Air, Inc. (TWA) where he began employment on June 23, 1941 in Kansas City, Missouri. On April 16, 1942 he was promoted to Inspector until June 2, 1942 when he was transferred to the Inter-Continental Division at Washington D.C. His work, described as essential to National Defense, was under contract to Western Air, Inc. and the War Department. In October 30, 1942, while still in Washington D.C., he received another promotion to Crew Chief. He was selected on July 12, 1943 to be Maintenance Relations Coordinator. Then he was designated Air Carrier Aircraft Inspection Representative September 1, 1943, an appointment which was sanctioned by the Civil Aeronautics Administration October 14, 1943. After being transferred to the Service Department on May 1, 1945, Mr. Gordon reached 20 years employment with TWA on June 13, 1961. Louis Edward Gordon passed away January 11, 1964 in Parkville, Missouri and was survived by his widow Mrs. M. Roberts Gordon.

Scope and Contents

One box, containing 7 folders. This collection covers the aviation career of Louis Edward Gordon. Items in the collection include correspondence, telegrams, documents, memorabilia, and newspaper articles throughout his career.

Related Materials

Secondary Sources: Burke, John. Winged Legend: the story of Amelia Earhart. New York: Putnam, 1970. Earhart, Amelia. 20 Hrs., 40 Min.: Our Flight in the Friendship. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1928.
Morrissey, Muriel Earhart. Courage is the Price: the biography of Amelia Earhart. Wichita, KS: McCormick-Armstrong, Publishing Division, 1963.

Subjects and Indexing Terms

Fokker F.VII Family
Ford 5-AT Trimotor Family
United States. Army. Air Corps. Advanced Flying School (Kelly Field, Tex.)
Earhart, Amelia
Gordon, Louis E.
Byrd, Richard E.
United States. Army. Air Corps
Western Air Express Corporation
Stultz, William "Bill"
Trans World Airways. TWA


Box 01


Folder 01 – TWA Documents (Trans World Airlines/Transcontinental & Western Air, Inc.)

Physical Description: 1. Letter, L.M. Reed to L.E. Gordon, June 23, 1941. 2. Letter, William Maxfield to L.E. Gordon, April 13, 1942. 3. Letter, William Maxfield to L.E. Gordon, June 2 1942. 4. Letter, J.H. Poole to L.E. Gordon, October 30, 1942. 5. Memo, J.H. Poole to All Maintenance Employees, July 12, 1943. 6. Department of Commerce Air Carrie Division Bulletin No. 4, November 5, 1942; Letter, S.L. Ovrevik to H.F. Blackburn, September 4, 1943; Letter of Designation, Louis Edward Gordon as Air Carrier Aircraft Inspection Representative, October 14, 1943. 7. Memo, J.H. Poole to All Maintenance Employees, January 3, 1944. 8. Memo, M.E. Culbertson to L.E. Gordon, April 30, 1945. 9. Letter, Jack Frye to Louis E. Gordon, June 13, 1946. 10. Letter, Paul E. Richter to Louis E. Gordon, June 19, 1946. 11. Letter, Otis F. Bryan to Louis E. Gordon, June 19, 1946. 12. Letter, C.H. Engel to L.K. Hoffine, April 2, 1948. 13. Letter, S.L. Higginbottom to Louis E. Gordon, June 13, 1961. 14. Letter, Charles Miller to L.E. Gordon, June 21 1961.

Folder 02 – Letters of Reference for Louis Edward Gordon

Physical Description: 1. A.E. Patton, February 2, 1932. 2. Abram W. Skidmore, October 15, 1936. 3. W.K. Vanderbilt, August 11, 1937. 4. E.E. Brossard, November 4, 1938. 5. Stratton Coyner, March 8, 1939. 6. A. E. Theis, March 8, 1939. 7. H.G. Silleck, March 8, 1939. 8. F. Pirmann, March 14, 1939. 9. Owen B. Jones, March 16, 1939. 10. Arthur L. Caperton, March 18, 1939. 11. L.A. Swirbul, August 1, 1939. 12. Harold D. Swank, May 22, 1941. 13. F.T. Jaques, May 14, 1942.

Folder 03 – General Correspondence & Contracts

Physical Description: 1. Contract copy, re: Transatlantic Flight, May 18, 1928; Letter, R.E. Byrd to Louis E. Gordon, May 19, 1928; Letter, George Palmer Putnam to Louis Gordon, July 4, 1928. 2. 5 Telegrams, Various Sources, 1928. 3. Employment Contract, April 18, 1929. 4. Letter, William R. Enyart to Louis Gordon, January 25, 1932; Letter, Clarence M. Young to Louis Gordon, April 27, 1932; Letter, E.E. Aldrin to Louis Gordon, May 2, 1932. 5. Telegram, Balbo to Gordon Louis, May 24, 1932. 6. Telegram, Lew and Dean to Mildred Stachel, March 24, 1934.

Folder 04 – Newspaper Clippings

Physical Description: 1. News Pictorial, “‘Lady Lindy,’ First Woman to Fly Across Atlantic,” June 20, 1928 –No. 2302. 2. “Conquerers of Atlantic Honor Air Pioneer: Stultz and Gordon Lay Wreath on Grave of Sir John Alcock.” 3. “Aviators Follow Dr. Johnson.” 4. Photos from Rotogravure section. 5. “Gordon Resigned Airport Position.” 6. “Lou Gordon Resigned at Le Roy Airport.” 7. “Slim Gordon, Miss Earhart’s Ex-Mechanic, Wins Divorce.” 8. “Amelia Earhart’s Pilot Gets Divorce.” 9. “Divorce Breaks Match Made by Amelia’s Flight.” 10. “Flier’s Romance in Divorce Court: Amelia Earhart’s Trans-Sea Flight Mechanic Sues Brookline Girl He Wooed from Air.” 11. “‘The Fun of It’” Her Own Story –By Amelia Earhart,” Daily Times, Chicago, June 22, 1932, (Partial). 12. “Wings Over far Lands Yield Thrills for Today’s Adventures,”, John Cameron Swayze, September 12, 1937, (2 copies). 13. Photo of Amelia Earhart, Wilmer Stultz, Louis Gordon, Mayor McKee, Commander Richard E Byrd, Newark Sunday News. 14. “Gives Version of Earhart’s Atlantic Hop.” 15. “About Town,” June 25, 1953. 16. “About Town,” Landon Laird, March 2, 1955. 17. “Thrills of Earhart’s Atlantic Flight Were Shared by a Kanas Citizen,” Frank C. Whitsitt, June 23, 1963, (2 copies).

Folder 05 –Passports

Physical Description: 1. Louis E. Gordon, June 25, 1928. 2. Louis Edward Gordon, November 9, 1936. 3. Louis Edward Gordon, October 26, 1942. 4. Mildred Roberts Gordon, January 2, 1946.

Folder 06 –Travel Documents, Identification Cards

Physical Description: 1. I.D. Argentina, June 8, 1929. 2. Chicago Aero Commission, I.D. 3. Pasa Air Transport Command, Parnamirim Field, Natal, Brazil. 4. ACCRA Aerodrome Permit, Airfield pass, Blank. 5. Airport (Airfield) Pasa, Ciampino Italy. 6. Copy of Birth Certificate; Copy of Court Order Change of Name

Folder 07 –Miscellaneous

Physical Description: 1. Toast list and Menu, Luncheon for “Friendship” Crew, Women’s Committee of the Air League of the British Empire, June 25, 1928. 2. Radio Script, “Chrysler Hour Routine,” July 11, 1928. 3. Publicity Leaflet, “The Friendship,” Le Roy, New York. 4. Souvenir Program of the Donald Woodward Airport (Copy). 5. Booklet, “Convegno Internazionale Degli Aviatori Trasoceanici.” 6. Design for Unit Insignia, 20th Bombardment Squadron. 7. Obituary and Prayer Card, Louis E. Gordon, January 11, 1964.