Glenn E. Messer

Glenn E.Messer (1896 - 1995)

Glenn Messer grew up in Iowa. He soloed after four hours of instruction in 1911 to earn money by flying to pay college expenses. Twelve years later, in Americus, he rigged a plane for Charles Lindbergh, instructed the young pilot and checked him out. During WWI, Messer had ferried planes and instructed for the British Royal Corps. When the United States entered the conflict he returned to Camp Kelly, Texas, as a civilian instructor, commissioned later as an instructor in the Aviation Section, the Signal Corps. Throughout the twenties, and early thirties, Messer performed with flying circuses, flew air mail and mapped surveys, piloted FBI kidnap searches, and established and operated the first airfield in Birmingham, Alabama (1926 to 1933). Founder in 1926 of Southern Aircraft Corporation, Birmingham, which built the highly successful "Air Boss," he invented and patented a high-low beam control for automobile headlights and a number of devices useful in aircraft, including the first controllable propeller, developed with a colleague. He established a world record in speed looping in 1928 and continued to pilot his private plane after his 80th birthday. A member of the Early Birds of Aviation, and the OX5 Aviation Pioneers Hall of Fame, he was named "Mr. OX5" in 1975. Founder and President Emeritus of the Southern Museum of Flight, Inc., Birmingham, Messer was one of first three inductees into the Alabama Aviation Hall of Fame.


Glenn E. Messer, pioneer, barnstormer, inventor, designer, builder and historian, was enshrined May 18, 1991, as "The Ageless Aviator".