Pilot Max Miller's log book
This log book was recovered from Max Miller’s fatal crash on September 1, 1920. Though slightly damaged by the fire, the handwritten entries remain clear. Airmail pilots used logs to record details about their flights and, on occasion, landing field conditions. Miller wrote his name on the front of this book, adding the name of his service, the "U.S. Aerial Mail," and a notation of his home address in Woodland Hills Park in Cleveland, Ohio. Miller doodled sketches of pilots on the inside front and back covers. He included his good friend Eddie Gardner’s Cleveland, Ohio, phone number—9380—on the inside front cover.
Miller used the book to record flight times, weather conditions, quantity of mail carried, and other flight information. He also recorded his expenses (food and lodging) while on duty. Airmail pilots were allowed per diem expenses if they were properly recorded. As a result, the pilots kept meticulous notes on those expenditures.
Born in Norway, Max Miller became infatuated with flying as a child. He was the first pilot hired by the Post Office Department. While working as an airmail pilot, Miller met and married Daisy Thomas, who worked in the Department’s airmail office.
On September 1, 1920, Miller left Hazelhurst, New Jersey, airfield for Cleveland at 5:30 a.m. in a Junkers-Larsen aircraft with six hundred pounds of mail. Mechanic Gustav Reierson flew with him. Two hours later, the airplane was seen inexplicably only twenty miles from Cleveland. Witnesses said it was flying low and the motor was cutting out and backfiring. Observers noted flames leaping from the front of the airplane and Reierson tossing mailbags out to safety. As flames engulfed the front of the airplane, the aircraft nosed over and spiraled to the ground. The gas tanks exploded, blowing off the wings. Miller and Reierson were killed in the explosion and crash.
National Archives and Reference Administration, record group 28