John Matthew Miller III (born June 3, 1896) was active in aviation throughout his life, as a naval aviator, air mail pilot, transport pilot, autogiro pilot, flight instructor, aircraft manufacturer, airport operator, agricultural pilot, and helicopter test pilot, working at different times for the United States Navy, the U.S. Aerial Mail Service, Pitcairn Aeronautical Corporation, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture; from 1927-1929 Miller operated his own business, the Miller Aviation Corporation of New Brunswick, New Jersey. The collection includes Miller's pilot licenses and log books, scrapbooks, photographs, newspaper clippings and assorted ephemera, predominantly from the 1914 to 1939 period of Miller's life.
Scope and Contents:
This collection contains both original materials and photocopies of materials loaned by the donor for copying. Original materials include Miller's United States Navy Naval Aviator Certificate, an aircraft log book for the Curtiss Seagull "Jacques Cartier" (owned by The Chicago Tribune), a photo album entitled "The Miller Corporation, New Brunswick Airport" featuring images of the Miller (Corp) MCA-1 Amphibian Biplane, assorted loose photographs, correspondence from Robert Woods Johnson (of Johnson & Johnson), two panoramic group photographs of the US Navy Flight A Naval Aviation detachment at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1917, newspaper clippings (several covering James G. Ray's autogiro flight over Washington, DC in 1934), assorted ephemera relating to Miller's aviation career, and two bound books: Flying Officers of the U.S.N. (US Navy): 1917-1919 and Saga of the US Air Mail Service: 1918-1927, (Air Mail Pioneers, Inc., 1962). Photocopied materials include two of Miller's pilot log books, two of Miller's pilot licenses, a scrapbook, and selected pages from additional scrapbooks from which individual photographs were copied by the National Air and Space Museum in 2001. The collection also includes Smithsonian Institution numbered copy prints of these selected photographs.
Materials in this collection are grouped into Series by type; materials within a series are generally arranged chronologically, grouped by subject.
Biographical / Historical:
John Matthew Miller III was born June 3, 1896, at Tacoma, Washington. As a teenager, Miller came east to study at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and found summer employment with the Burgess Company aircraft manufacturers at Marblehead, Massachusetts. In 1917, following the entry of the United States into World War I, Miller was accepted into the Massachusetts School for Naval Air Service (Flight A Naval Aviation detachment at MIT), and, after two months, moved on to elementary flying instruction at Hampton Roads, Virginia, and then advanced instruction at Pensacola, Florida. He was commissioned into the United States Naval Air Service as an Ensign on March 16, 1918, and stationed at Naval Air Station Rockaway Beach, New York, where he performed patrol and convoy work off New York harbor, until ordered to inactive duty on December 15, 1918. Miller promptly joined the US Aerial Mail Service; after training in Dayton Wright DH-4 air mailplanes at Belmont Park, Long Island, Miller was posted to Bustleton, Pennsylvania, as station manager. Following his two years of air mail service, Miller worked at a number of aviation jobs, including time with the America Trans Oceanic Company (Miami, Florida, 1920), survey flights in Quebec (Canada, 1922), and managing operations for Pitcairn Aeronautical Corporation at their base adjacent to Hadley Field in South Plainfield, New Jersey (the New York terminal for the New York to Chicago and New York to Atlanta air mail routes). Miller was an active member of the New Brunswick (NJ) Aero Club, owners of a Pitcairn PA-3 Orowing based at Pitcairn's field. On August 1, 1927, Miller organized the Miller Aviation Corporation, operating out of New Brunswick Airport (a.k.a. "Miller Field"), a short-lived airfield located southwest of the city of New Brunswick. Miller Aviation offered flying instruction, local sightseeing flights, and charter passenger flights in the mid-Atlantic seaboard region. In 1928-1929, the Miller Aviation Corporation designed, constructed, and tested the Miller (Corp) MCA-1 Amphibian Biplane; sadly, the aircraft crashed during its first ground landing. After his company failed, Miller returned to Pitcairn Aeronautical as an autogiro pilot, making a number of flights through the 1930s for Pitcairn, the US Department of Agriculture, and others. During World War II, Miller temporarily rejoined the Navy as a Lieutenant Commander, serving as a helicopter test pilot at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland. Miller later worked for the Department of Agriculture until his retirement in 1956.
NOTE: John Matthew Miller III (born 1896, died circa 1980s), the subject of this collection, should not be confused with fellow air mail and autogiro pilot John McDonald "Johnny" Miller (1905-2008), occasionally referenced in this collection. Johnny Miller was more closely associated with the Kellett Autogiro Corp (Philadelphia, PA), and was famous for being the first to land an aircraft on the roof of a building.
Lee M. Gunther-Mohr, Gift, 2001, NASM.2001.0036.
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