The History, Purposes and Organization
of the Association


The Formation

Our natal day was the incorporation of the Legal Eagles Association on August 4, 1959, under the New Jersey Non-profit Corporation Act. Alfred Rathblott, our Association's first president, had the creative impulse to organize an association of flying lawyers.

The coterie of nine lawyer-pilots who signed Articles of Incorporation were Merrill Armour, William G. Freemen, Howard G. Law. Jr., Alfred R. Pierce, David C. Quinn, Albert Rathblott, Frank Kingston Smith, Stuart M. Speiser, and Alfred L. Wolf. They were men of known ability as lawyers and aviators who perceived the need for an association wherein lawyer pilots might find the expressions of their aspirations in an atmosphere of aviation fellowship.

Frank Kingston Smith gave a "hell yes" when asked by Al whether or not he would be interested in the formation of a cadre of flying lawyers. In Frank's words: &quotA few days later another phone call. You got a minute' were Al's first words after I picked up the hand set. I said I did. Well' he said with that gravelly voice of his. 'I'm double parked on Chestnut Street right out in front of your building. C'mon down and sign the Articles before I get a ticket.' I rushed down and signed the papers on top of Al's car."

General Alfred L. Wolf received a similar recruiting call from Al. Like Frank, Abby was a Philadelphia lawyer, but he had partners to contend with. They, not knowing the difference between an aileron and an airworthiness directive, disapproved of the name "Legal Eagles." It so lacked dignity that Abby's partners instructed him to decline. Abby signed on only after the name was changed by appropriate resolution amending the Certificate of Incorporation to Lawyer Pilots Association. "Legal Eagles" was retained as a nickname and memorialized in the name of our Association's publication which for many years was called "Legal Eagle News."

In later years we assumed more of the dignity Abby's partners were looking for. In 1965, by amendment to the Articles of Incorporation, we became a bar association, the Lawyer-Pilots Bar Association, and later the "News" became the Lawyer-Pilots Bar Association Journal.

The Association's Geographic Reach

In the formative years there was much to be done by the Board of Directors at their special meetings held in cities coast to coast. Early on the need to divide the country into LPBA regions was recognized. Originally there were four regions, Northeast, Southeast, Central and Western. Now there are nine corresponding to the geographic regions formed by the Federal Aviation Administration. Each region is headed by a Regional Vice President. The Association is now international, with an elected International Vice Presidents and members in Canada, England, Australia, Switzerland, Germany, Cyprus, and Guatemala.

Opening the Membership to Non-Pilots and Non-Lawyers

An item in Al Rathblott's first Bulletin to members, sent out to members only one month after incorporation, indicated the enthusiastic reception the formation of the Lawyer-Pilots Association received: "Attorneys from 20 states totaling seventy-six in number, have initiated a desire to belong to this Association. Two months after being incorporated, twenty-one flying lawyers attended the first meeting of the corporation at Monticello, New York, October 25, 1959.

From time to time the suggestion was whispered to open a non-voting class of membership for non-pilot lawyers who were aviation oriented and had much to offer LPBA. This extreme departure from the traditional was considered to be heresy when proposed by resolution to be voted on at the 1967 summer meeting at Mackinac Island. The resolution was defeated unanimously in 1967, but times do change. Clearly there were non-pilot lawyers and others who shared our common interest and purpose and who were willing and able to make a significant contribution to the improvement of LPBA.

A hearty "welcoming aboard" is now given to the non-voting members classified as: lawyers who are not pilots but who have an interest in aviation safety or aviation law; students currently attending law school who have an airman's certificate; and any person who has an interest in aviation safety or aviation law.

Our Reasons for Existence

In 1965, when the name of our Association was changed a second time, the purposes of the cooperation were rewritten as follows: (a) to encourage the knowledge and understanding of aviation law; to promote spirit of fellowship within those of legal profession who have the interest of both lawyer and a pilot in the science or administration of aviation law; (b) to promote cooperation with governmental and other organizations so as to enhance general aviation safety and to offer to both governmental and civil agencies, the special knowledge and skill of its members so as to assist such agencies in the performance of their functions in the development of aviation law.

There are three more, unwritten but equally important purposes of the Association. They are: the continuing legal education of our lawyer members; the pursuit of good times, and the fellowship we have enjoyed and will continue to enjoy together.

Educational Activities of the Association

To achieve the Association's educational purposes, semi-annual national meetings are held, winter and summer, at which well known men and women come to speak on subjects that are topical at the moment. The speakers come from diversified backgrounds: the bench and bar; industry; education; state and federal administrative bodies; and our own talented membership. The professional programs are prepared to gain CLE credit in non-aviation as well as aviation fields of law. The national conventions have produced a host of speakers who have given stirring and informative talks at the annual luncheon and banquet.

The well-written, informative articles published quarterly in the Lawyer-Pilots Bar Association Journal provide members with topical developments in aviation and the law.

Lawyer-Pilots Bar Association Journal

Taken from an article published in the LPBA Journal in 1991
originally written by George I. Whitehead, Jr., President 1988-1990

Discovered in the November 1969 issue of The AOPA PILOT magazine, members of the then 10 year old Lawyer Pilots Bar Association help conduct a legal seminar at the September 1969 AOPA convention in Atlantic City, NJ. The late Virginia Hash was President of LPBA from 1966-1970, John Yodice served as President from 1984-1986, and the late Lloyd B. Ericsson served as President from 1978-1980

Lawyer-Pilots Bar Association Journal

          PAST PRESIDENTS

Albert Rathblott, Deceased               1959-1964

George M. Bryant,Deceased             1964-1966

Virginia Hash,Deceased                    1966-1970

Donald R. Krag                                     1970-1974

Maurice E. Gosnell,Deceased           1974-1978

Lloyd B. Ericsson,Deceased              1978-1980

Jacob I. Rosenbaum                           1980-1982

Glover McGhee                                    1982-1984

John S. Yodice                                      1984-1986

David M. Baker,Deceased                  1986-1988

George I. Whitehead,Deceased         1988-1990

Michael R. Gallagher, Deceased       1990-1992

Jay Fred Cohen                                      1992-1993

Sidney L. Berlin,Deceased                  1993-1994

H. Clark Bell                                           1994-1995

John J. McNamara,Jr.                        1996-1997

Joseph A. Gawrys,Deceased               1996-1997

J. Timothy Cook                                     1997-1998

Cecile S. Hatfield                                    1998-1999

James F. Pokorny                                  1999-2000

Errol K. Kantor                                       2000-2001

William H. Wimsatt                             2001-2002

Edward A. McConwell                         2002-2003

Timothy E. Miller                                 2003-2004

Kathleen A. Yodice                               2004-2005

Martin T. Weiss                                     2005-2006

Timothy S. Fretts                                 2006-2007

Edward M. Booth,Jr.                           2007-2008

Susan L. Hofer                                       2008-2009  

Arthur E. Luman                                 2009-2010

Charles M. Finkel                                 2010-2011

Robert L. Feldman                               2011-2012

Gary L. Evans                                       2012-2013

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