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All American Engineering Company records
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All American Engineering Company records

Accession 1541

Manuscripts and Archives Department, Hagley Museum and Library

PO Box 3630
Wilmington, Delaware, 19807

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Cite items for this collection in the following format:
[Description and dates], Box/folder number, All American Engineering Company records (Accession 1541), Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, DE 19807


Descriptive Summary

Title: All American Engineering Company records
Dates: 1937-1975
Accession Number: 1541
Creator: All American Engineering Company
Extent: 10 linear feet
Language of Material: English
Repository: Hagley Museum and Library: Manuscripts and Archives Department
Abstract: The engineering and research unit of All American Aviation, once the principal feeder airline for the mid-Atlantic region, became the All American Engineering Company in 1953. Their records document the early evolution of All American Aviation, the development of its system of air pick-up service, and its use in postal and military applications.

Historical Note

All American Aviation, Inc., was incorporated in Delaware on March 5, 1937. It was renamed All American Airways, Inc., on September 20, 1948, in response to its evolution into a conventional airline. On January 2, 1953, it spun off its engineering and research units and became Allegheny Airlines, Inc. It was renamed USAir, Inc., on October 28, 1979.

All American Aviation was originally incorporated by Dr. Lytle S. Adams, who had been experimenting with aerial pick-up devices since the 1920s and was the sole owner of Tri-State Aviation Corporation of Morgantown, W. Va. The company remained inactive until September 1938, when Ricard C. du Pont bought $85,000 in stock and became president. Lytle became vice president and Charles W. Wendt, secretary-treasurer. The other directors were Arthur P. Davis and A. Felix du Pont, Jr.

All American Aviation began service with an experimental airmail pick-up contract in 1939. The service was made permanent in 1940, serving 86 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 company was designated the principal feeder airline for the mid-Atlantic region. In the 1970s the firm evolved into USAir, a major trunk airline.

The firm's engineering and research unit was spun off on January 27, 1953, to the All American Engineering Company, incorporated on October 31, 1952. It was renamed All American Industries on June 11, 1970, and merged into International Controls Corp. on May 7, 1982.


Scope and Content

The records describe the early evolution of All American Aviation, the development of its system of air pick-up service, and its use in postal and military applications.

The administrative records cover All American Airways up until the 1953 reorganization and All American Engineering thereafter. They include minutes, organization papers, contracts, financial statements, prospectuses, reports, newsclippings and a route map. They include small amounts from the presidential files of Richard du Pont of All American Aviation and Charles Wendt of All American Engineering. The legal files include copies of CAB and FAA decisions, and documents from patent litigation.

The production and contract files include handbooks, test reports and progress reports on contracts, including one for air-sea rescue winches for the Navy. There are also runs of internal company publications. A separate series documents the role of Senator Jennings Randolph of West Virginia as an early sponsor and advocate of the airmail pick-up system. It includes the text of a 40-year review of government relations with the airline industry, delivered in 1975.



Series I. Administrative records; Series II. Legal files; Series III. Production and contract files; Series IV. Company publications; Series V. Senator Jennings Randolph's files on air pick-up service (photocopies); Series VI. Pictorial materials


Separated Material

All American Engineering Company photographs (Accession 1976.410), Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department, Hagley Museum & Library


Access Points

Adams, Lytle S. (Lytle Schuyler), 1883- .
Aeronautical engineers.
Aeronautics and state.
Aeronautics, Military.
Aeronautics--Law and legislation.
Air mail pick-up service.
Air mail service.
Airlines--West Virginia.
All American Airways, Inc.
All American Aviation, Inc.
Allegheny Airlines.
Davis, Arthur P. (Arthur Pattison), 1895-1968.
Du Pont, A. Felix (Alexis Felix), 1905-1996.
Du Pont, Richard C. (Richard Chichester), 1911-1943.
Gliders (Aeronautics)
Local service airlines.
Randolph, Jennings, 1902- .
Transport planes.
Tri-state Aviation Corporation.
USAir, Inc.
United States. Civil Aeronautics Board.
Wendt, Charles W., 1904-1990.