Skip to main content

All American Engineering Company photographs and audiovisual materials

1938-1984 Majority of material found within 1951-1976
 Collection
Identifier: 1976-410

Abstract

All American Engineering Company was an aeronautical engineering and research firm which was incorporated on October 31, 1952. The company was originally a division of All American Aviation, Inc. This collection consists primarily of films. There is a small amount of photographs which corresponds directly to the film material. The collection is organized into two series: Films and Photographs, both series are arranged alphabetically. 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. The photographs document 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.

Dates

  • 1938-1984
  • Majority of material found within 1951-1976

Creator

Extent

13 Linear Feet

General Physical Description

242 photographic prints : b&w ; 8 x 10 in. 192 photographic prints : b&w ; 5 x 7 in. or smaller. 5 photographic print : color ; 8 x 10 in. 6 photographic prints : color ; 5 x 7 in. or smaller. 2 scrapbooks : blue vinyl ; 12 x 18 in. (closed). 1 album. 1 photographic print : b&w ; 5.5 x 14 in. 3 photographic print : b&w ; 11 x 14 in. 1 photographic print : color ; 11 x 14 in. 1 negative : color ; 4 x 5 in. 3 items. 3 diagrams. 1 Unolyn rope. 38 drawings : some b&w, some color ; from 14 x 11 in. to 30 x 40 in. 127 reels : si., col. ; 16mm. 31 reels : si., b&w ; 16mm. 15 reels : sd., col. ; 16mm. 3 reels : sd., col. ; 16mm. 4 reels : si., col. ; 8mm. 1 videocassette (Betacam SP). 3 video discs (DVD). 2 videocassettes (VHS) : 1/2 inch. 2 items : list. 1 item : report (2 copies).

Historical Note

All American Engineering Company was an aeronautical engineering and research firm which was incorporated on October 31, 1952. The company was originally a division of All American Aviation, Inc.

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

This collection consists primarily of films. There are a small amount of photographs which corresponds directly to the film material. The collection is organized into two series: Films and Photographs, both series are arranged alphabetically.

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.

Access Restrictions

Film material is housed in cold storage and must reacclimate prior to viewing. Please contact the Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department at least 48 hours in advance of research visit.

Related Material

All American Engineering Company scrapbooks and news releases (Accessions 1074), Manuscripts and Archives Department, Hagley Museum and Library.

All American Engineering Company (Accession 1968.006), Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department, Hagley Museum and Library.

Language of Materials

English


Additional Information

Additional Description

Separated Material

All American Engineering Company records (Accession 1541), Manuscripts and Archives Department, Hagley Museum and Library.

Related Names

Creator

Finding Aid & Administrative Information

Title:
All American Engineering Company photographs and audiovisual materials
Status:
Online
Author:
Lisa Kruczek and Laurie Rizzo
Date:
2015
Description rules:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description:
English
Script of description:
Latin

Repository Details

Repository Details

Part of the Audiovisual Collections Repository

Contact:
PO Box 3630
Wilmington Delaware 19807 USA
302-658-2400