J. Thad Johnson was a WWI navy pilot in training for most of WWI. After the war he participated in the first transcontinental flight from New York to San Francisco and other aviation feats.
John Thad Johnson was born in 1895. He was educated at Trinity College in Waxahachi, Texas. When World War I broke out, he volunteered. He was initially trained at Leon Springs, Texas. He was commissioned on May 17, 1917, and sent to the aviation division at Rockwell Field (the present Naval Air Station North Island) for pilot training and though he was in France in 1918, he does not appear to have engaged in combat.
After the war, he participated in the first transcontinental flight from New York to San Francisco in 1919. During a flight in 1925 his engine quit and he was forced to parachute 10,000 feet into an orchard. He was not injured, but made the newspapers for this action. On July 2, 1927, he was part of an honor guard escorting Charles Lindberg in the Spirit of Saint Louis at MacDonald field, Ottawa, Canada. During this flight, his aircraft collided with another as he was coming in to land, and he was killed when his parachute failed to open properly.
There is now a street leading to the industrial section of the Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport that is named after him.
The San Diego Air & Space Museum is a proud member of the Balboa Park Cultural Partnership, a collaboration of 26 arts, science, and cultural institutions in San Diego's Balboa Park. Learn more at www.bpcp.org.