Biographical / Historical
Maximillian Theo Liljestrand (1881-1913) was born in Sweden and after graduating from an engineering university and serving in the Swedish navy, he emigrated to the United States in 1904. After he became an American citizen he changed his name to Max T. Lillie. Lillie first went to work for an engineering and construction firm in St. Louis, Missouri, and later he established his own business, Lillie Construction Company. In July of 1911, Lillie and Andrew Drew, a local newspaper reporter and aviation enthusiast, formed the Pioneer Aeroplane and Exhibition Company. Soon Walter Brookins joined the group and it was Brookins that trained Lillie to fly. Lillie made his first short solo flight on October 23, 1911, and received his license, No. 73, five days later. That fall, Lillie bought out the Pioneer venture and took the aircraft south for flying exhibitions, settling in Atlanta, Georgia, where he started a flying school and established a base for his winter flying operations. That following spring, Lillie shipped north to Cicero Field, Chicago, where he made his headquarters for the active 1912 summer season. Besides teaching, carrying passengers, and exhibition work, Lillie also carried authorized mail on several occasions and on September 14, 1912, he flew for his Expert Pilot License, No. 1. During the winter of 1912-1913, Lillie moved his base to San Antonio, Texas. During February of 1913, Lillie announced the formation of the Weckler-Armstrong Lillie Corporation which was to manufacture airplanes and airboats. The 1913 summer season was again based at Cicero, and the summer was busy with school flying and carrying passengers, including Mrs. Wynona Lillie who often flew with her husband. Lillie made more than four thousand flights and carried over seventeen hundred passengers without a major accident before September 15, 1913. However on that date he was killed when flying in an exhibition at the District Fair Grounds in Galesburg, Illinois. Lillie was buried in St. Peters Cemetery, St. Louis, Missouri.