Leo F. Murphy was born and raised in Massachusetts and his first flight in an airplane was enroute to flight training when he joined the US Navy directly after college graduation.  During a 30-year career he witnessed several green flashes and logged more than 4,000 flight hours in various operational, training and command positions ashore, aboard ship, and overseas. Afraid of heights, he holds both glider and seaplane ratings and he is an advanced ground instructor.

Leo is currently employed by Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University as an Associate Professor of Aeronautical Science. In 2008 he was announced as the 23rd recipient of the prestigious Christa McAuliffe Award as the National Aerospace Teacher of the Year.

An avid reader and collector of aviation history, Leo has published several articles in various professional magazines.  He is the author of three books on the history of aviation in Pensacola :



Flying Machines over Pensacola: an Early Aviation History from 1909 to 1929. Despite being known as the both “Cradle of Naval Aviation” and the “Annapolis of the Air” no one had ever captured Pensacola’s early aviation history in detail before and this book traces the development of both civilian and military aviation from 1909 to 1929.  Released on the 100th anniversary of powered flight, this book is 244 pages in length with more than 180 photographs, maps and diagrams, many of which have never been published before.  Even if you are very knowledgeable about Pensacola ’s history, you will be amazed by some of the material found, including the many mysteries, tragedies, record-breaking achievements, and oddities associated with the history of aviation in Pensacola .

Hagler Field: a History of Pensacola’s Airport. Just recently published to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Pensacola Gulf Coast Regional Airport in 2010, this 220-page, full-color book traces the development of Pensacola ’s commercial airports.  Including more than 230 photographs, illustrations, and diagrams, many of which have never been published before, and packed with 22 sidebars of supplemental aeronautical information, Hagler Field chronicles the history of Pensacola’s commercial airport from its primitive beginnings at a 100-acre leased grass air strip at Old Corry Field to its expansion into a modern 1,200 acre complex at a new site that we now know as Pensacola Gulf Coast Regional Airport.  Established by civic pride, built by the hands of relief workers, and improved by the necessities of war, the history of Pensacola ’s airport is spicy gumbo of mystery, excitement, and adventure.

Lost in Heaven: 1st Lt. James R. Polkinghorne Jr., USAAF, was born in Pensacola, Florida in June 1921 and earned his U.S. Army Air Forces pilot wings as part of the famed Tuskegee Airmen in February 1943.  Assigned to the 301st Fighter Squadron, he disappeared in May 1944 while flying a combat mission in a P-39 Airacobra over Italy.

Packed with photographs and illustrations, Lost in Heaven also chronicles the achievements of early black aviation pioneers who refused to be denied the opportunity to enjoy the splendors of flight.  The history of the Tuskegee Airmen is also traced, documenting the Herculean efforts required by the Tuskegee Institute to establish an aeronautical program and the subsequent successes of the first black fighter pilots in the history of the U.S. armed forces who served their country with honor and bravery in combat over the skies of Europe.