Freddie Lund: Test & Stunt Pilot

The Man Who Lived Life to the Fullest

You Haven't Got Long to Live

As a young man of only 20, Freddie Lund joined the Army-Air Corp to become a pilot and fight in World War I. During his time in Europe, he was exposed to mustard gas and nearly died. Upon his discharge from the service, he was told by the doctors that he didn't have long to live, because he'd contracted tuberculosus. So, after recovering sufficiently, he decided to do what he loved best with the time he had left; fly planes.

About ten years later, he was still barnstorming around the east coast and mid-west, making good money thrilling the crowds and becoming renound for his acrobatic abilities. When my Aunt Betty met him at one of the air circuses he performed at, it wasn't too long before they were married and she began traveling the country with him; learning to fly as well.

Freddie Lund Captures Lion's Share of Honors - Newman, Caverlio, Hopkins, Participate

With outside loop demonstrations and other difficult and dangerous feats of daring by Freddie Lund, of Troy, Ohio, in his Waco biplane climaxing each day's activities at Teterboro Airport, Saturday and yesterday, the national air circus under the auspices of the crippled children's committee of Hackensack Lodge of Elks, was witnessed by thousands of spectators who braved the scorching heat and dust to see a score of pilots put their planes through their paces.

Lund's Accuracy

Lund who also flew away with the lion's share fo the prize money took first place in the free-for-all race, balloon straffing contest, and bomb dropping exhibition. In the latter event he missed the two foot circle which marked the center of the field by only four and one-half feet.

In the balloon strafing contest the pilots took to the air one at a time and four small balloons were released for each pilot. Only one dive was permitted at each balloon, the object being to break the balloon with the propeller. Lund broke three of his four balloons and hit the other one which failed to burst.

We Have With Us Today - Freddie Lund

Freddie Lund, far-famed stunt flier of the Curtis-Wright airplane exhibit team visited recently with Dr. and Mrs. Thomas E. Will at their home in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Mrs. Lund (Betty L. Elkins), is the grand-niece of Dr. Will, being the grand-daughter of his sister in California (Hettie Lee Will Anderson).

Mr. and Mrs. Lund came here from the municipal airport in Miami where the air circus, sponsored by Battery D, Florida National Guard, has been rehearsing. Here practically every stunt know to birmen has been demonstrated. Mr. Lund, the first commercial pilot who ever performed and outside loop, being among the foremost in daring and execution.

Mrs. Lund is taking lessons from her husband and recently made her fist solo flight. Mr. Lund has flown for 15 years and has never yet suffered a serious accident.

He has a handsome gold medal, the first of its kind in the history of aeronautics, testifying to a heroic deed whereby a human life, imperiled in the air, was saved. On one side this medal bears in large type, the word, "Bravery". On the other is the aviator's name and reference to the following facts: a young woman, flying, attempted to decend in a parachute.

Its lines became tangled with parts of her plane leaving her suspended in mid-air. Mr. Lund in another plane saw her predicament and flew to her rescue. The situation was critical; the problem baffling. At least, however, Lund and the pilot of the girl's ship, alternating between motor and point at which the parachute's lines were attached, pulled her up by main strength, got her back into her own plane, thus saving her life.

Mr. Lund is a world war veteran. While in service he was badly gassed and the authorities in the hospital expected his death. But despite the forebodings of doctors and nurses, he resolved to live, and live he did.

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The following excerpt, taken from a magazine titled, Popular Aviation, is from a rather long account of Freddie Lund taking up the reporter for an all out stunt ride. I shall only quote a paragraph here from it which is pertinent to documenting his credentials as an aerobatics & test pilot ace of his day.

I Bum a Ride With a Stunt Pilot

by Charles Graham (November 1930)

It was a clear, brisk Fall day when Freddie took me up at the Kansas City airport. I had a lot of confidence in him since he is nationally known as chief test pilot for Waco and captain of the Waco stunt team.

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On October 3, 1931 at Lexington, Kentucky, Freddie Lund was participating in a pylon race with other planes. As they were turning around one of the pylons, Freddie was leading another plane when its propeller hit the tail of Freddie's plane; cutting off his vertical and horizontal stabilizers. His plane hit the ground in seconds, killing him instantly. As I share in my other hub page about my Aunt Betty, his widow, she went on to tour the country performing in air circuses for which they had been obligated.

Upon finding out about this family history, I learned from my mother that an award was set up to honor his memory. The aviators of the day created the Freddie Lund Trophy, which was then given each year to the most accomplished acrobatic aviator in recognition of their skill and daring. I hope some day to discover a photo of it, so that I can add it to my archives commemorating him.

Freddie Lund - Living Life to the Fullest

Freddie Lund in his Waco biplane as test pilot for the company.
Freddie Lund in his Waco biplane as test pilot for the company.

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Comments 8 comments

William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 8 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

Remarkable story of a heroic stunt and test pilot who overcame his war injuries to accomplish his personal goals. As we grow older, we come to a greater appreciation of the achievements of our forebears.


Jondolar profile image

Jondolar 8 years ago from Tacoma, WA Author

Hi William,

Thanks for your comment. Yes, these are the kinds of role models our youth are so sorely lacking today, in my opinion.


Crystal Schmitz 7 years ago

After attendinig the Air Show in Fargo ND this weekend it renewed my interest in Freddie Lund. My Mother, Hansina (Woolliscroft) Anderson was a cousin to Freddie and his sister Alberta. Hansina was born and raised in Alexandria, MN and we would often visit my grandmother, Martha Woolliscroft Anderson, a well-know resident of Alex. Freddie flew to Bagley, MN. and gave my mother a ride and we have pictures and articles about Freddie Lund Day in Alexandria in l992 (circ). At the air show I mentioned that I was sure he was credited for the first outside roll and it appears my memory did not fail me.


Oftgood 7 years ago

My Grandmother (Rose O. Woolliscroft Trefethren) was one to sing the praises of her cousin Freddie Lund. She did believe that the pilot who clipped Freddie's tail wing may have had a thing for Betty, or maybe it was envy of his skill. In either case he was never charged with Freddie's death.

I hop his memory will continue and his talent be the bar that other pilots strive to be.


Jondolar 7 years ago

Well, I would be interested in knowing whether you have any information about the Freddie Lund Trophy for Stunt Pilot of the Year that was awarded in his honor after his death. If you do, please contact me at jon@jondolar.net


Brenda Hahn 6 years ago

I have been scanning in old family photos from about 1932. I came across a picture of Freddie Lund, with his airplane with "Waco" on the side. He must have been performing near Lake Preston, SD. My dad went on to learn to fly, and was a "Flying Farmer" for many years.


A long line of Woolliscrofts 5 years ago

It is wonderful to run across this. I grew up listening to stories about Freddie Lund and hearing my mother talk about Aunt Hansina. I am the grandson of Ester and Selmer Woolliscroft. I vaguely remember my great grandmother Martha. I do know that she was well known in Alexandria. I remember her living the Knute Nelson Nursing home in Alex. She passed away shortly after Ester and Selmer moved in to the same place. I I barely remember then living in any other place as they lived there many years remember my grandparents living in any other place. My mother ( still living at 91 yrs) knew Freddie. And, yes I am a Woolliscroft


shortsnorter 3 years ago

Found your article while researching signatures forund on a shortsnorter. Signed by "Mrs. Freddie Lund" and other barnstormers (Wiley Post, Harold Gatty, Tex Rankin, Dorothy Hester, Swanee Taylor, Ruth Nichols, Fay Gillis, Frances Hunter, Al Williams, Gil Ervin). Trying to pin down the date. Any way you could help? Thanks, Tom. www.shortsnorter.org

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