All American Engineering Company photographs and audiovisual materials1938-1984 Majority of material found within 1951-1976
- Majority of material found within 1951-1976
- All American Engineering Company (Organization)
13 Linear Feet
General Physical Description
All American Aviation was incorporated by Dr. Lytle S. Adams (1881-1970), who had been experimenting with aerial pick-up devices since the 1920s and was the sole owner of Tri-State Aviation Corporation of Morgantown, West Virginia. The company remained inactive until September 1938, when Richard C. du Pont (1911-1943) bought $85,000 in stock and became president. Adams became vice president and Charles W. Wendt (1904-1990), secretary-treasurer. The other directors were Arthur P. Davis (1895-1968) and A. Felix du Pont, Jr. (1905-1996).
All American Aviation began service with an experimental airmail pick-up contract in 1939. The service was made permanent in 1940, serving eighty-six cities on five routes, primarily in Pennsylvania and West Virginia. The company developed an improved pick-up system that owed little to Adams, who withdrew from the firm after a bitter dispute.
The company thrived during World War II by developing military applications for its technology, particularly a "man harness" for snatching people aloft like airmail sacks. The system was tried for air rescue missions and for dropping and retrieving intelligence officers behind enemy lines. The company also became involved in the military glider program. Richard du Pont left to head the Army's glider program in 1943 and was killed in a glider accident a few months later.
Support for the airmail pick-up system declined after World War II, in the face of high costs, lower airmail volume and better rural delivery by road. However, the company continued to push its system by proposing to combine it with passenger service, something the CAB had consistently opposed.
In 1948 the All American Aviation was designated the principal feeder airline for the mid-Atlantic region. In response to its evolution into a conventional airline the company changed its name to All American Airways, Inc. on September 20, 1948.
In January 2, 1953, All American Airways split with its engineering and research units and became Allegheny Airlines, Inc. and All American Engineering Company. Allegheny Airlines, Inc. was renamed USAir, Inc., on October 28, 1979.
All American Engineering continued the refinement and manufacture of the automatic cargo and airmail pick-up equipment originally developed by its predecessor in the 1930s. It also developed gliders, ejection seat trainers, airborne winches, ski attachments and other landing gear. The firm was renamed All American Industries on June 11, 1970, and was merged into International Controls Corp. on May 7, 1982.
Scope and Content
Dating from 1937 to 1984, the Films series documents the company’s innovations in the aviation industry, including pickup and recovery systems, catapults and arresting gear. Many of the films depict helicopters, airplanes or gliders testing various products designed by All American Engineering. The films are shot at assorted airfields, including DuPont and Georgetown in Delaware and some military airfields, such as Fort Bragg and Quantico. Of note are two films of the Aquila unmanned aircraft (or drone) launcher, one of which includes a launch accident in 1976. The B-26 Tow and Hook on Test and L20 Shots films have shot lists and the film for the Derrick Type Pickup System includes a commentary. Also contained in the collection are Betacam SP and DVD copies of the 1937 8th Annual National Soaring Contest and VHS/DVD copies of several of the shorter films (VHS tapes include lists of films).
The Photographs series documents different design projects and tests; most of this research was related to the aviation industry. There are photographs of the facilities at the DuPont Airport on Centre Road near Greenville, Delaware, and the Georgetown, Delaware, test plant. Richard du Pont and other personnel appear in some of the images.
There are photographs of various military and civilian aircraft, some of them engaged in research work. There are a views of the air mail pick-up service serving Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania in the 1940s; Brodie system (cable take-off and landing); glider pick-up at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base; man pick-up system; trackless catapult experiments; aircraft arresting gear; and equipment drop experiments.
There are drawings of aerial recovery, landing systems, and launching systems, and seven miscellaneous items ("submersoplane," parking garage, flying catapult engines, Project Space Track). These are rendered in either black and white or are hand-colored. Some of the work is signed by Harry Thomas.
There is an album from the Georgetown plant which was prepared for Christmas 1955 and includes photographs of employees organized by department. The book is humorously designed with a Santa Claus motif. There is a scrapbook arranged chronologically that contains some photographs, but chiefly ephemera and newspaper clippings related to the company.
Language of Materials
- All American Engineering Company (Organization)
Finding Aid & Administrative Information
- All American Engineering Company photographs and audiovisual materials
- Lisa Kruczek and Laurie Rizzo
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