Auburn Professor Dr. David Lewis To Give Lecture At UTD July 27 On ‘Ace of Aces’ Eddie Rickenbacker

Dr. W. David Lewis, a distinguished professor of history at Auburn University and former Charles A. Lindbergh Professor of Aerospace History at the National Air and Space Museum, will deliver a lecture on World War I “Ace of Aces” Eddie Rickenbacker at 4 p.m. July 27 in the auditorium of the McDermott Library at The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD).

The lecture, part of the George W. Jalonick III and Dorothy Cockrell Jalonick Memorial Distinguished Lectures Series, is free and open to the public, but seating will be limited to 100. The Jalonicks were friends of UTD and of the university’s History of Aviation Collection. Their children and friends endowed the series in the early 1990’s in their memory. Lewis’ presentation, entitled “The Hero in His Prime: Edward V. Rickenbacker and Eastern Airlines, 1934-1941,” is being sponsored by the McDermott Library’s Special Collections Department.

Rickenbacker shot down 22 airplanes and four enemy balloons during WW I. He worked for General Motors and several aviation-related companies after the war. In 1934, Rickenbacker, a Harvard-trained economist, became general manager of Eastern Air Lines and transformed the faltering enterprise into a profitable airline. In 1938, he became president of Eastern and led it to unprecedented growth and profitability.

“This is a unique opportunity for those in the Dallas-Fort Worth area to hear one of the foremost aviation scholars in the world,” said Dr. Erik D. Carlson, head of the library’s Special Collections Department. “Dr. Lewis has written about commercial aviation for more than 30 years and is highly respected in this field.”

Dr. Larry D. Sall, director of libraries at UTD and former head of special collections, added, “Over the years, the Jalonick lectures have brought experts in various aspects of aviation to UTD. The lecture by David Lewis is very much in the spirit of the series, and we expect an extraordinary presentation.”

At Lewis’ suggestion, in 1995 the Rickenbacker family donated 210 letters to Auburn University that were written over a period of 36 years by Rickenbacker. Lewis is preparing a new biography of the war hero and business leader.

Lewis has been a member of the Auburn faculty since 1971. He was awarded the prestigious Leonardo da Vinci Medal by the Society for the History of Technology in 1993, and he was the principal organizer of an international conference in Switzerland on aviation history in 1992. In 1999, he was named Auburn’s Distinguished Graduate Faculty Lecturer.

Lewis received his Ph.D. from Cornell University in 1961. He is the author of six books and the editor of three other books. Lewis has also written or co-written more than 60 articles, book chapters and encyclopedia entries.

Special Collections, located on the third floor of the McDermott Library, is home to the History of Aviation Collection. The collection’s core consists of five categories: the CAT/Air America Archive, the George Williams World War I Aviation Library, the Admiral Charles E. Rosendahl Lighter-Than-Air Collection and the General James H. Doolittle Collection. The History of Aviation Collection also holds hundreds of individual collections and more than 50,000 books, magazines and newspapers.

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].