Tag Archives: Marshall Headle

Marshall Headle (21 March 1893–14 May 1945)

Paul Mantz, Amelia Earhart and Lockheed’s chief pilot, Marshall Headle, with Earhart’s Model 10E Electra Special. (California State University Northridge, Coralie Hewitt Tillack Collection)
Marshall Headle, as a junior at MAC,1911 (Index)

Marshall Headle was born 21 March 1893 at Winthrop, Massachussetts, United States of America, He was the third child of Edwin Charles Headle, a clergyman, and Clarendo Yeomans Headle. He attended Winthrop High School before going on to the Massachussetts Agricultural College at Bolton. He graduated in 1912 with a Bachelor of Science degree (B.Sc.) in Floriculture.

Headle enlisted in the United States Army in 1917, and attended aviation ground school at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.). His flight training took place at Tours, France. He held the rank of First Lieutenant, Air Service of the American Expeditionary Force, United States Army. Lieutenant Headle served as a flight instructor at Tours and at the 2nd Aviation Instruction Center.

1st Lt. Marshall Headle, Air Service, United States Army.

From 1919 to 1922, Headle was attached to the United States Embassy in Paris, France. He then returned to the United States.

Marshall Headle enlisted as a private in the United States Marine Corps, 25 October 1924. He served with the Marines in China as an airplane crew chief and aviator. He was promoted to gunnery sergeant (Gy.Sgt.). He returned to the United States in 1928, and resigned from the Marine Corps to become a civilian pilot.

Lockheed test pilot Marshall Headle with a Lockheed airplane, circa 1930. (San Diego Air & Space Museum Archives AL77A-032)

In 1929, Headle married Dorothea Evelyn Breeder.  They had two children, Marshall Ronald Headle, born in 1932, and Michele Ann Headle. (Mrs. Headle died in Honolulu, Hawaii, 25 May 2010, at the age of 99 years.)

Headle joined Lockheed in 1929, as chief pilot, flight operations. On 30 October 1929, Headle made the first flight of the all-metal Detroit-Lockheed DL-2 Sirius.

In 1930, Headle attempted to set a world altitude record with a 500 kilogram (1,102 pounds) payload, flying a Lockheed Vega. He used a pressurized tank of oxygen with a flexible tube.

Marshall Headle demonstrates his high-altitude breathing apparatus, standing with his Lockheed Vega. (International Newsreel/Shamokin News-Dispatch)
Marshall E. (“Babe”) Headle. (Photograph courtesy of Neil Corbett, Test and Research Pilots, Flight Test Engineers)

In 1931, he took the Model 9 Orion, NX960Y, on its first flight.

In 1933, became the company’s chief test pilot, succeeding Wiley Post. He also traveled world-wide demonstrating Lockheed’s airplanes.

Headle also made the first flight of Gerard Vultee’s Vultee V-1A single-engine airliner, 19 February 1933.

On 29 July 1937, he made the first flight of the Lockheed Model 14 Super Electra. The Model 14 fuselage was stretched, resulting in the Model 18 Lodestar. Headle, with Louis Upshaw, took the prototype, NX17385, for its first flight, 21 September 1939. The Lodestar would be developed into the Lockheed Ventura bomber.

On 16 September 1940, Headle made the first flight of the Lockheed YP-38 service test prototype. Headle was featured in magazine and billboard advertisements for Camel cigarettes in 1941.

Marshall Headle, Lockheed test pilot, was featured in advertising for Camel cigarettes. (Yale University Library)

In 1941, he was injured in an altitude chamber accident and was no longer able to fly.

Prototype Lockheed Model 18 Lodestar, NX17385. (Lockheed Martin)

Marshall Headle died 14 May 1945 at the age of 52 years. He was buried at the Valhalla Memorial Cemetery, Burbank, California.

Locheed test pilot Marshall Headle with a YP-38 prototype at Burbank, circa 1940. (Lockheed Martin)

© 2023, Bryan R. Swopes