Biographical / Historical
John Matthew Miller III was born June 3, 1896, at Tacoma, Washington. As a teenager, Miller came east to study at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and found summer employment with the Burgess Company aircraft manufacturers at Marblehead, Massachusetts. In 1917, following the entry of the United States into World War I, Miller was accepted into the Massachusetts School for Naval Air Service (Flight A Naval Aviation detachment at MIT), and, after two months, moved on to elementary flying instruction at Hampton Roads, Virginia, and then advanced instruction at Pensacola, Florida. He was commissioned into the United States Naval Air Service as an Ensign on March 16, 1918, and stationed at Naval Air Station Rockaway Beach, New York, where he performed patrol and convoy work off New York harbor, until ordered to inactive duty on December 15, 1918. Miller promptly joined the US Aerial Mail Service; after training in Dayton Wright DH-4 air mailplanes at Belmont Park, Long Island, Miller was posted to Bustleton, Pennsylvania, as station manager. Following his two years of air mail service, Miller worked at a number of aviation jobs, including time with the America Trans Oceanic Company (Miami, Florida, 1920), survey flights in Quebec (Canada, 1922), and managing operations for Pitcairn Aeronautical Corporation at their base adjacent to Hadley Field in South Plainfield, New Jersey (the New York terminal for the New York to Chicago and New York to Atlanta air mail routes). Miller was an active member of the New Brunswick (NJ) Aero Club, owners of a Pitcairn PA-3 Orowing based at Pitcairn's field. On August 1, 1927, Miller organized the Miller Aviation Corporation, operating out of New Brunswick Airport (a.k.a. "Miller Field"), a short-lived airfield located southwest of the city of New Brunswick. Miller Aviation offered flying instruction, local sightseeing flights, and charter passenger flights in the mid-Atlantic seaboard region. In 1928-1929, the Miller Aviation Corporation designed, constructed, and tested the Miller (Corp) MCA-1 Amphibian Biplane; sadly, the aircraft crashed during its first ground landing. After his company failed, Miller returned to Pitcairn Aeronautical as an autogiro pilot, making a number of flights through the 1930s for Pitcairn, the US Department of Agriculture, and others. During World War II, Miller temporarily rejoined the Navy as a Lieutenant Commander, serving as a helicopter test pilot at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland. Miller later worked for the Department of Agriculture until his retirement in 1956.
NOTE: John Matthew Miller III (born 1896, died circa 1980s), the subject of this collection, should not be confused with fellow air mail and autogiro pilot John McDonald "Johnny" Miller (1905-2008), occasionally referenced in this collection. Johnny Miller was more closely associated with the Kellett Autogiro Corp (Philadelphia, PA), and was famous for being the first to land an aircraft on the roof of a building.