Skip to main content Smithsonian Institution

Additional Online Media

Catalog Data

Brooks, Arthur Raymond, 1895-1991  Search this
Bell Telephone Laboratories  Search this
Florida Airways Corp  Search this
United States. Army. Air Service. 22nd Pursuit Group  Search this
United States. Department of Commerce. Aeronautics Branch  Search this
Brooks, Arthur Raymond, 1895-1991  Search this
13.72 Cubic feet (31 boxes)
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Financial records
This collection consists of the personal papers and memorabilia of Arthur Raymond Brooks. It includes photographs, correspondence, documents, and certificates relating to Brooks' aviation career, as well as personal correspondence, photographs, and diaries (1907-87).
Scope and Contents:
This collection consists of the personal papers of Arthur Raymond Brooks. These papers relate to his military career with the U.S. Army Air Service (1917-22), his years in both civilian government service and the private sector (1923-60), as well as a lifetime's involvement in numerous military, academic, aeronautical, and professional associations and organizations. Additionally, there are examples of correspondence and autographed photographs from such aerospace notables as Eddie Rickenbacker, Jimmy Doolittle, Billy Mitchell, Clayton Bissell, Reed Chambers, and Michael Collins. The collection is arranged into two broad series. First, is the material relating to his professional life. This includes Brooks' official military documents (U.S. Army commission, discharge papers, etc.), correspondence, reports, photographs (mostly from his time spent as an Air Service officer in France and the U.S.), handbooks, manuals, brochures, programs, speeches, magazines, newsletters, newspaper clippings, and articles. The second series contains items pertaining mainly to his personal life. Included here are personal documents such as income tax receipts, last will and testament, correspondence, photographs (both largely from and of family and friends), diaries, biographical notes, transcripts from audio tape cassettes, logbooks, travel guides, and books. Miscellaneous materials retained by Brooks such as a commemorative medallion, prints, posters, publications, a stamp album, photograph albums, newspapers, and address books are also found in this series. Brooks' papers are arranged both chronologically and alphabetically. Official military and personal documents, correspondence, reports, photographs, brochures, programs, newspaper clippings and articles, diaries and day timers, biographical notes, transcriptions, logbooks, travel guides, maps, atlases, timetables, and newspapers are organized by the former method. Handbooks, instructions, manuals, magazines, and newsletters are grouped alphabetically by title. The books are arranged alphabetically by author.
Series 1: Professional material 1.1 Official military documents 1.2 Correspondence 1.3 Reports 1.4 Handbooks, instructions, and manuals 1.5 Photographs 1.6 Brochures 1.7 Programs 1.8 Magazines 1.9 Newsletters 1.10 Newspaper clippings and articles Series 2: Personal materials 2.1 Personal documents 2.2 Correspondence 2.3 Diaries and day-timers 2.4 Photographs 2.5 Biographical notes 2.6 Transcripts 2.7 Logbooks 2.8 Travel guides, maps, atlases, and train/airline timetables 2.9 Books 2.10 Miscellaneous materials 2.11 Oversized materials 2.12 Posters, prints and maps 2.13 Newspapers and newspaper supplements
Biographical/Historical note:
Arthur Raymond Brooks (1895-1991) was a fighter pilot for the U.S. Army Air Service during World War I and later, a civil aviation pioneer. Born in Framingham, Massachusetts on November 1, 1895, Brooks graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1917 with a Bachelor of Science degree in electrochemical engineering. In July of that year, he enlisted in the Aviation Section of the U.S. Army Signal Corps. His flight training was provided by the Royal Flying Corps' School of Military Aeronautics in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He was then sent for further flight training to Fort Worth, Texas where he flew with the 139th Squadron, 2nd Pursuit Group. In March 1918, Brooks left for France and completed pursuit training at the 3rd Aviation Instruction Center, American Expeditionary Force (AEF), at Issoudun. The 139th was placed at the Vaucouleurs Aerodrome, Toul sector, where the squadron was equipped with SPAD VII aircraft. Brooks was eventually made its flight commander. By early August, he was assigned as flight commander of the 22nd Aero Squadron, 2nd Pursuit Group. His new squadron was supplied with SPAD XIII pursuit craft. Altogether, he flew 120 missions in four different aircraft. He named each of the aircraft Smith in honor of his fiancée (Ruth Connery) who was attending Smith College in Massachusetts. The final plane he flew in combat, the Smith IV, is on display at the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum. On July 29, 1918, Brooks achieved his first confirmed aerial victory by downing a German Fokker aircraft. Later, he destroyed two more Fokkers while flying over enemy lines on September 14. On that day, Brooks single-handedly engaged eight enemy aircraft in combat thus, earning him the Distinguished Service Cross. By the war's end, he had six confirmed kills to his credit. Following the armistice of November 11, 1918, Brooks remained in France as the 22nd Squadron's commanding officer. His squadron was kept in reserve for possible German occupation duty. Upon his return to the United States in July 1919, Brooks was promoted to Captain. He decided to stay in the Air Service and was subsequently assigned as commanding officer for the 95th Pursuit Squadron, stationed at Kelly Field, Texas. From May 1920 to August 1921, he was put in charge of the 1st Pursuit Group at Ellington Field, Texas. Following that assignment, Brooks attended Air Service Field Officer's School, Langley Field, Virginia. After graduation, he stayed on duty at Langley Field until his resignation from the U.S. Army Air Service in December 1922. This action was spurred both by Brooks' frustration with being on the Army's stagnant promotion list and an interest in entering the private sector. During 1920-21, while in the service, he was involved in a failed Framingham-based commercial aviation business called the Brooks, Banks and Smith Corporation. Also in 1920, Brooks married Ruth. Their only child, Peter, was born in 1929. Brooks' first job after his honorable discharge from the Air Service was as secretary for the National Automobile Association during 1923-24. During 1924-25, he worked in advertising sales for the financial magazine, United States Investor. Once again, his desire to be engaged in commercial aviation compelled him to become involved in establishing and organizing the Florida Airways Corporation from late 1925 into 1926. In time, Florida Airways became Eastern Airways. Brooks left this financially struggling enterprise and joined the Department of Commerce's Aeronautics Branch in August 1926. For the next seventeen months, he worked as an airway extension superintendent and associate airways engineer. His main task with the Aeronautics Branch was to survey air routes and supervise the installation of beacons to assist air mail pilots navigate the Appalachian Mountains from Virginia to Pennsylvania. He left government service in early 1928 and was hired by Bell Telephone Laboratories. He spent the next few decades working as a scientist, engineer and chief pilot for the company at Hadley Field, New Jersey. There, Brooks and his staff conducted pioneering research on ground-to-air radiotelephone communications and electronic aviation navigation equipment. During much of this period, he piloted a Fairchild FC2-W Wasp and a Ford Tri-Motor that operated as flying laboratories for the team's communications research. He was Bell's publications manager for New Jersey operations at the time of his retirement in 1960. Brooks stayed active in aviation for the remainder of his life. Even in his nineties, he enjoyed flying all sorts of aircraft, including ultralights, gliders and hot-air balloons. He belonged to many aviation-related and professional associations and organizations such as the American Legion, Military Order of the World Wars, Combat Pilots Association, Order of Daedalians, OX-5 Aviation Pioneers Association, Telephone Pioneers of America, Cross and Cockade, Associate Fellow of the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics, Quiet Birdmen, WWI Overseas Flyers and the American Fighter Aces Association. Brooks also remained involved with the alumni affairs of his alma mater – MIT. He attended numerous air shows and reunions, including the sixty-fifth, and final reunion, held for the Lafayette Flying Corps in Paris, France in 1983. In 1980, he was inducted into the Aviation Hall of Fame of New Jersey. Brooks lived long enough to see his Smith IV restored by the National Air and Space Museum during the 1980s. Brooks, the last surviving American World War I ace, died in Summit, New Jersey, on July 17, 1991.
General note:
Other materials: medals and memorabilia transferred to NASM Aeronautics Division.
A. Raymond Brooks, Gift, 1989, NASM.1989.0104
No restrictions on access
Material is subject to Smithsonian Terms of Use. Should you wish to use NASM material in any medium, please submit an Application for Permission to Reproduce NASM Material, available at Permissions Requests.
Fighter pilots  Search this
Works of art  Search this
SPAD XIII (S.13) "Smith IV"  Search this
Aeronautics  Search this
Periodicals  Search this
Aeronautics, Military  Search this
Financial records
Arthur Raymond Brooks Collection, NASM.1989.0104, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution.
See more items in:
Arthur Raymond Brooks Collection
Archival Repository:
National Air and Space Museum Archives