Lawrence W. Brown

     Lawrence W. Brown of Los Angeles began flying in 1914, winning FAI certificate No. ... that year.
     In February of 1915 he was hired by the Constitutionalists under Calles to do bombing and observation work against Villa at Sonora, Mexico, with one of the three Christofferson planes delivered the year before. Flights were made continuously until August when he returned to Los Angeles with typhoid. Recovering rapidly, he served as Instructor at the Glenn L. Martin school until the summer of 1916 when he joined the Standard company, Plainfield, N. J., as test pilot. During June, he made his first loops and upside-down flights at Mineola in a biplane of his own design with a Gyro engine.
     In March of 1917 he left Standard to return to Los Angeles to build his own exhibition biplane. The spring of 1918 he was employed in the Army Aviation Section as civilian test pilot at Detroit where he remained until the end of the war.
     Then he returned to exhibition work and made a biplace biplane around an OX5 for altitude flying, later sold to the Mexican Government for training purposes. He served in Mexico City in charge of design and construction of government aircraft until January 1922, when he inaugurated a two-year campaign of passenger-carrying, exhibitions, and cotton dusting in Central America.
     In 1924 he was engaged in designing and building airplanes in California.
     One of these was Roscoe Turner's ship in which he last won the Thompson Trophy, after it was rebuilt by Mattie Laird. Others involved racing jobs around Menasco engines. Other Menasco-powered personal single-engines had Handley Page slots.
courtesy of Steve Remington - CollectAir

The Foreign Aviators of the Division of the North
Partial English Translation

The Mexican REVOLUTIONARY FIGHT from 1910 to 1920 constituted one of the first wars of this century in which the airplane was used as a battle weapon. The Italian Army was first in using the airship in war during its conquest of the Turkish territory of Cirenaica and Tripolitania between 1911 and 1912. They also used it against the belligerent forces that fought in the War of the Balkan Mountains from 1912 to 1913,1
     Almost immediately, these " Constitutionalist " rebels tried to smuggle an airplane across the border in an attempt to provide air support to their dispersed armed groups that fought in the north of Mexico. The airplane they acquired in this manner was a twin-engine Martin Pusher1 equipped with a Curtiss motor of 75 horsepower. It then comprised the entire airforce of the Army of the Northwest of Alvaro Obregón. With this airplane, piloted by the French Didier Masson and the Mexican Gustavo Salinas Camiña, several bombings were carried out in the summer of 1913 and the spring of 1914. As part of the rebel operations in the regions the northwest of Sinaloa and Nayarit, the airplane attacked several groups of naval forces and infantry. Three other Moisant military single-engine airplanes in tandem, designed by Harold Kantner for the Moisant Aviation School and Company2, were dispatched to Chihuahua to be united with that portion of the Constitutionalist forces.
     A method for dropping the bombs from the air was quickly improvised. The pilots of the old fashioned twin-engine Wright planes simply dropped the bombs through an opening in the floor between their feet. In the two seater planes, the bombs were dropped by the passenger by simply cutting the rope which held them to the primitive bomb carrier at his side.
     Under the circumstances, it was very difficult to hit the targets. In addition, not all of the bombs exploded even when they hit the target. "However, it should be added that it was a frightening experience to the troops on the ground," according to Lawrence Brown, the American pilot who flew for the Constitutionalists. "Some of the bombs were very effective, and even those which didn't explode had a devestating psychological effect."
     The Constitutionalists did not have very good air support during this campaign. From February to August of 1915, the American Pilot Lawrence W. Brown made from three to five weekly bombing reconnaissance missions in a Christofferson airplane. Colonel Jesus Maria Aguirre, head of artillery, and Paulino Navarro alternately accompanied him as observers. The aviators in their airships also provided support to General Plutarco Elias Streets in his attempt to impose martial law in the towns along the border on the Sonora side.. After finally falling ill with typhoid fever, Brown returned to his home in Los Angeles
1. This in fact was a single-engine airplane inspired by and very similar to the Curtiss pushers of that time. I have a number of excellent pictures of it taken in Mexico, including close-ups of the disposition of the bomb load.
2. Re the Moisant-Kantners mentioned in the same paragraph: the original was delivered by Harold Kantner himself, who demonstrated it at the border before turning it over to the Mexicans.
Notes courtesy of John Underwood, 3-20-07

Los Aviadores Extranjeros de la División Del Norte
Complete Spanish Version

via email from John Underwood, 3-20-07
      Harold was a Convair retiree living in San Diego when I knew him in the '60s and '70s. I have 8 hours of taped memoirs.
     There is some confusion concerning LWB's activities in the '20s. U.S. Air Services indicates he was a USN ensign when he went to Honduras in 1924. At approximately this time, an Ensign LWB was arrested in San Diego for DUI with several other officers, all said to be naval airmen. He was reported to have done extensive flying in the Nw using a much modified Curtiss Oriole. Larry Brown, to my knowledge, never mentioned being a naval aviator or barnstorming the Nw, which makes me think two parties with the same name were in circulation at the same time and that their exploits somehow became confused.
     I've been trying to get a line on LWB's niece, name unknown, who was living in the vicinity in the '90s. She apparently was his only next of kin. An acquaintance, Ivor Shogran, was Brown's brother-in-law and knew him from the very early days with Glenn Martin. Ivor was a longtime Douglas engineering supervisor and did some flying himself with Martin, although I don't think he ever soloed.
Editor's Note:I thank John for contributing these important details of his life and career. If you can help him in his search for more information, please contact me and I will forward your message to him.

Lawrence W. Brown died in Los Angeles on Xmas Day, 1945
From Personal communication from John Underwood, 3-21-07

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