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Johnson, James M. (James Mussey), 1885-1968



  • Existence: July 19, 1885 - August 21, 1968

Biographical Information

James M. Johnson was born July 19, 1885 in Helena, Arkansas. He graduated from Purdue University with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering in 1907. During his time at Purdue he was a member of the Mechanical Engineering Society, the Athletic Association, and the Ohio Club. His thesis was titled "An Efficient Test of an Allis-Chalmers Corliss Engine." In the 1907 Debris Yearbook, the caption under his name reads, "Jimmie came to us on a slow train from Arkansas. He is a good fellow, gentle disposition, seldom flustered, well bred, very neat and really a gentleman. The successor for the position he has held in a Purdue cozy corner for four years has already appeared."

Johnson learned to fly at the Curtiss Aviation School, Newport News, Virginia, 1914-1915. Johnson served as an instructor at the Curtiss Aviation School from 1915 to 1917. In 1917 he became one of the nation's first government test pilots for WOrld War I airplanes at Langley Field, and he later became chief civil test pilot at McCook Field, Dayton, Ohio from 1917 to 1920. He was president of the Johnson Flying Service and vice-president of the Johnson Airplane and Supply Company, 1922 to 1925. From 1927 to 1928 he was an inspector for the Department of Commerce. After that Johnson was chief test pilot and sales manager for Buhl Aircraft Company in Detroit, Michigan until 1932. Johnson held other aviator positions throughout his career, including a pilot for United Airlines in the late 1940s.

In his retirement, Johnson lived in Weslaco, Texas. In 1968 he moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, where he passed away on August 21, 1968 at St. George Hospital.


James Mussey "Jimmie" Johnson. Find-A-Grave. Website. Accessed 03 June 3, 2019.


Purdue Debris Yearbook. Purdue University. West Lafayette, IN: 1907.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

James M. Johnson papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSA 13
Scope and Contents The James M. Johnson papers document the career of pilot James Johnson (Jimmy Johnson) and his colleagues in early flight and aviation training. Most of the collection is made up of photographs. There are also newspaper clippings and three pilot's log books. The photographs show Johnson individually, Johnson standing with colleagues, Johnson in or near airplanes, and airplanes individually. Many of the photographs were taken at McCook Field in Dayton, Ohio.
Dates: 1905 - 1953; Majority of material found within 1905 - 1915