The Air Corps suffered a great loss and grieved to learn of the death of Colonel Leslie MacDill, as the result of an airplane crash on the morning of 9 November, 1938, in Washington D.C. The accident occurred several minutes after his take off from Bolling Field in a BC-1 aircraft.
Accounts pieced together from numerous eyewitnesses indicated that something went wrong with the motor. Colonel MacDill first tried to get back to Bolling Field, and then with death staring him in the face, aimed his plane for a narrow space between two houses. The descending plane cut down telephone and power wires, knocked down a pole, clipped off tree limbs, plunged to the ground and burst into flames. Colonel MacDill and his passenger Private Joseph G. Gloxner were killed instantly.
Colonel MacDill was one of aviation’s early pioneers, and those who knew him well realized his special ability, his highly analytical mind, as well as his professional attainments. His sound conclusions and helpful advice were constantly relied upon.
Colonel MacDill was born at Monmouth, Illinois on 18 February, 1889. Following his graduation in 1909 from Hanover College with an A.B. degree, and from the University of Indiana in 1911 with an A.M. degree, he was commissioned from civilian life as a Second Lieutenant, Coast Artillery Corps on 13 April, 1912. He served with the 6th Company, Coast Artillery Corps from 10 December, 1912, until his detail in 1914 in the Aviation Section, Signal Corps. Upon completion of his flying training at the Signal Corps Aviation School at San Diego, California, he was rated a Junior Military Aviator on 2 July 1915, which automatically advanced him to the rank of First Lieutenant. He was promoted to Captain on 15 May 1917; to Major 1 July 1920; to Lieutenant Colonel 1 August 1935; and to Colonel on 26 August, 1936.