Lewis A. Jackson - Xenia Aviation History Maker

Dr. Lewis A. Jackson (1912-1994) of Xenia, Ohio was born in Angola, Indiana. Fascinated by aircraft, he had his first ride in an airplane when he was 15.  In 1929, at the age of 16, he purchased a partially completed monoplane and installed a motorcycle engine on it.  In 1930, though he was poor, Jackson began formal flight instruction, after which he soloed in his own plane in 1932.  A nearby college had denied him entrance, so he used the money he had worked hard to save in order to buy the plane at a depression-era bargain price.

Jackson barnstormed throughout Indiana and Ohio, earning money to pay his way through college, earned a B.S. degree in Education at Indiana Wesleyan University, taught public school, and also pursued aviation activities.

In 1940, he joined Cornelius Coffey in the Coffey and Jackson Flying School (Chicago) and also completed advanced acrobatic training at Chicago School of Aeronautics.  Later that year he went to Tuskegee, where, after teaching all ground school subjects, procuring numerous licenses and ratings in Georgia and Massachusetts, he was appointed Director of Training at the Army Air Corps 66th Flight Training Detachment which prepared pilots who would eventually fly in the 99th Pursuit Squadron, the famed “Tuskegee Airmen.” As Director, Jackson guided the school to high standards of performance and on three different occasions, the students ranked first when compared to the other twenty-two schools in the Southeast Army Air Corps Training Command.

After the war Jackson moved to Ohio to teach at Wilberforce College and then, Central State University.  Here he also became an FAA Flight Examiner and developed an aircraft computer called a NAV-KIT. He was appointed to the FAA Citizens Advisory Committee, President of the Experimental Aircraft Assoc. Chapter and a member of the Aircraft Owners & Pilots Assoc. and the Aviation Pioneers.

"An airplane in every garage." That was a goal of Dr. Jackson. Until a few months before his death, he was still working on such a design--a roadable airplane which would accommodate the common man-an airplane which could be stored at home and towed or driven to the airport. In 1956, he created and flew the Versatile I (the first of ten experimental airplanes) developed to serve as both an airplane and a car. The idea was to drive it to the airport, take off, return, and then drive it home. In the early 1960’s Dr. Jackson created and flew a different experimental plane which folded its wings for land travel. Only 16-feet long, the plane would fit in a garage, once its 12-foot wing span was folded. On the highway it operated like a three-wheel motorcycle, cruising at 35 to 50 MPH. The propeller was behind the passenger compartment in a slot surrounded by body, wings, and tail. This design created enough attention in England to cause the Editors of Jane’s All the World’s Aircraft to portray and describe it to their world-wide membership of subscribers

In 1948, Jackson obtained a Master’s Degree from Miami University, in 1950 a Ph.D. in Higher Education from the Ohio State University. Beginning in 1946, Dr. Jackson served in many college and university administrative positions including Graduate Dean, Dean of Students, Vice President for Academic Affairs, Acting President and President, Central State University, and Acting President and Vice President for Administration at Sinclair Community College.

One of Dr. Jackson’s great interests was in entrepreneurship. In 1974 he fostered the business entrepreneur program at Sinclair Community College. He firmly believed that more students should think as employers and thus be more self-reliant; that, in this way, students would be taught to create employment.

Jackson served a number of years as a member of the Greene County Regional Airport Authority and the Board of Directors of the Xenia Area Development Corporation.

In Dr. Jackson’s honor, the airport outside Xenia, Ohio is now named the Greene County - Lewis A. Jackson Regional Airport and the main Library at Indiana Wesleyan University is named the Lewis A. Jackson Library.