Harold Geiger

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Harold Geiger
File:Harold Geiger 1921.png
Geiger in 1911
Born (1884-10-07)October 7, 1884
East Orange, New Jersey
Died May 17, 1927(1927-05-17) (aged 42)
Olmsted Field
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Cause of death Aircrash
Resting place Arlington National Cemetery
Education United States Military Academy (1904–1908)
Spouse(s) Frances M. Bridges
Children 2 children
Parent(s) Frederick C. Geiger
Josephine Dodd Squier

Major Harold Geiger (October 7, 1884 – May 17, 1927) was US military aviator number 6, who was killed in an airplane crash in 1927. He was also a balloonist.[1] Spokane International Airport is designated with the International Air Transport Association airport code GEG in his memory.


He was born on October 7, 1884 in East Orange, New Jersey to Frederick C. Geiger and Josephine Dodd Squier. He attended East Orange High School.[1]

Geiger was a cadet at the United States Military Academy June 16, 1904 to February 14, 1908, when he was graduated as an Army second lieutenant in the Coast Artillery Corps.[1]

He was promoted to first lieutenant November 8, 1908.[2]

As a lieutenant, Geiger commanded the aviation assets of the United States Army Signal Corps in the Hawaiian Islands. The first Army airplanes, pilots and crews arrived in Oahu in July 1913. The planes were based at Fort Kamehameha, near present-day Hickam Air Force Base.

Lieutenant Geiger arrived in Oahu with two Curtiss Aeroplane Company seaplanes, a mechanic, 12 enlisted men, and other equipment.[3] However, Geiger’s aircraft were in poor shape. His flights were limited to short flights in Pearl Harbor and a longer flight to Diamond Head, Hawaii and back to Fort Kamehameha.

Geiger was ordered to cease all flying operations in late 1913 because the trade winds were too strong.[4] The airplanes were sold locally, and the engines were sent back to the North Island Flying School. The Hawaiian Islands would not see any more Army aviation activity until 1917.[5]

Balloons and dirigibles

Geiger completed courses at the U.S. Army Balloon School in April 1917, and later during World War I served overseas with the Army's Balloon Section Headquarters in France as a lieutenant colonel. He completed dirigible studies in France and Italy. He was attached later to the Ambassador's staff in Berlin. While in Germany, Major Geiger sent reports to the Chief of the United States Army Air Service on the construction of the dirigible USS Los Angeles, and repeatedly urged that the craft, which was later taken over by the Navy, be purchased by the Army. He was on the Los Angeles on its transatlantic flight.[1][6]

Geiger also commanded the Army Balloon School at Ross Field, Arcadia, California.[7] By 1927, Geiger was commandant of Phillips Air Field at Aberdeen, Maryland.

On May 10, 1926, Major Geiger was slightly injured in a mid-air collision between two airplanes at Langley Field, near Hampton, Virginia. While attending the Air Corps Tactical School at Langley Field, his airplane and another flown by fellow student Horace Meek Hickam hit each other and crashed.[8]


On May 17, 1927, Geiger died in the crash of an Airco DH.4 he was flying. A newspaper article reported six mechanics and officers at the Middleton Air Station, at Olmsted Field, Pennsylvania as saying that Geiger's airplane dove into the ground from a height of 50 feet (15 m). Geiger managed to jump out just as the airplane struck the ground and burst into flames. He made desperate efforts to get clear of the wreckage and, according to the onlookers, half crawled and ran as far as the tail of the machine before he was overcome. There he dropped and the flames prevented the watchers from getting near enough to rescue him.[1][9] Major Geiger was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.[6]


In 1941, the United States Department of Defense purchased the area then known as Sunset Field from Spokane County, Washington as a World War II training facility for future pilots of the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress and the Douglas C-47 Skytrain. Following the acquisition, it renamed the facility Geiger Field in honor of Major Geiger. In 1946, a portion of the airfield was designated a municipal airport, and commercial airline operations were moved from Felts Field to Geiger Field. In 1960, the facility was renamed Spokane International Airport.[10]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 "Was Native of East Orange, N.J." The New York Times. May 18, 1927. Retrieved 2012-12-04.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. General Cullum's Biographical Record of the Officers and Graduates of the US Military Academy, Volume V Supplement 1900-1910
  3. William H. Dorrance (1993). Fort Kamehameha: the story of the harbor defenses of Pearl Harbor. White Mane Publishing Company. ISBN 978-0-942597-51-6.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Honolulu Star-Bulletin Special at starbulletin.com
  5. "Harold Melville Clark, Major, United States Army Air Service". Arlington National Cemetery. Retrieved 2012-12-04.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Harold Geiger, Major, United States Army Air Corps". Arlington National Cemetery. Retrieved 2012-12-04. Harold Geiger was born on 7 October 1884 and was a 1908 graduate of the United States Military Academy. He served in the Army Air Corps and died on 17 May 1927. He is buried near William Dodd Geiger, Major, United States Army Air Forces.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. San Diego Aerospace Museum
  8. "Horace Meek Hickam, Lieutenant Colonel, United States Army Air Corps". Arlington National Cemetery. Retrieved 2012-12-04.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "Major Geiger, Commander of Aberdeen (Md.) Field, Is Burned to Death. Accident Occurs at Olmstead Field, Pa. Was a Native of East Orange, N.J." New York Times. May 18, 1927. Retrieved 2009-02-22. Apparently only slightly hurt when his De Haviland plane took a fifty-foot nose dive, Major Harold Geiger, commandant of Phillips Air Field at Aberdeen, Md., could not extricate himself before the machine burst into flames and he was burned to death at Olmstead Field, near here, at noon today.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Spokane International Airport at www.spokaneairports.net

External links