Edson Fessenden Gallaudet

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Edson Fessenden Gallaudet
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Edson Fessenden Gallaudet, ca. 1892–1896
Born(1871-04-21)April 21, 1871
DiedJuly 1, 1945(1945-07-01) (aged 74)

Edson Fessenden Gallaudet (April 21, 1871 in Washington, DC – July 1, 1945) in Pine Orchard, Connecticut) was a pioneer in the field of aviation, being the first person to experiment with warped wings in 1896.[1] In 1898 he built a warping-wing kite to test his invention of a warping-wing mechanism; this kite survives and is on display in the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC.[2] In 1911 he obtained US pilot's license No. 32 with the Aero Club of America,[3] flying a Wright biplane in Garden City, New York.[4] Also in 1911 he earned a pilot's brevet with the Aero Club of France flying a Nieuport monoplane.

Gallaudet was born in Washington, DC to Edward Miner Gallaudet, the son of Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, founder of Gallaudet University. Both his father and grandfather were famous educators in the field of deaf education. He received his B.A. from Yale University in 1893, and his PhD in Electrical Engineering from Johns Hopkins University in 1896. He worked at Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Company in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania from 1896 to 1897, then became an instructor of physics at Yale, where he taught from 1897 to 1900. From 1900 to 1903 he worked at William Cramp & Sons' Ship and Engine Building Company in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and then, in 1903, worked at the National Cash Register Company in Dayton, Ohio. He married Marion Cockrell on February 14, 1903. From 1903 to 1908 he worked as an assistant to the President and General Superintendent of the Stillwell Bierce & Smith Vaile Company in Dayton (which later became the Platt Iron Works Company). In 1908 he worked for the New England Refrigerator Company in Norwich, Connecticut. In 1908 he founded the Gallaudet Engineering Company in Norwich, where, as President, he did work as a mechanical and consulting engineer and, in 1909, built his first airplane.[5][6] Gallaudet Engineering Company was incorporated as the Gallaudet Aircraft Corporation in 1917. As a student at Yale in the Class of 1893 he was a member of Psi Upsilon and Skull and Bones. He was an Associate Fellow with the Institute of the Aeronatical Sciences, Inc., a member of the American Society of Aeronautic Engineers, Fédération Aéronautique Internationale, and a member of the Aero Club of America, Sigma X1, Engineers' Club (New York).[7] He was a member of the Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences.

In 1923 Gallaudet built an all-metal aircraft which flew on June 20, 1923 at Wilbur Wright Field in Ohio.[8]

In 1924 Gallaudet retired from the company he had founded. The company assets were acquired by Major Reuben Fleet, who used them as the core around which he founded Consolidated Aircraft Corporation.

Edson's wife Marion Cockrell, daughter of Francis Marion Cockrell, launched USS Missouri (BB-11).

Edson's brother, Herbert D. Gallaudet, graduated Yale in 1898 and his son, Edward D. Gallaudet, graduated Yale in 1924. Edson's mother, Susan Denison, was the daughter of Dr. Joseph Adam Denison, Jr and Eliza Skinner Denison of Royalton, Vermont.

He died in 1945 in Pine Orchard, Connecticut, and is buried in Cedar Hill Cemetery in Hartford, Connecticut.

Papers and Publications[edit]

  • Schatzberg, Eric. 1999. Wings of wood, wings of metal: culture and technical choice in American airplane materials, 1914–1945. Princeton University Press,
  • Gallaudet, Edson Fessenden. 1896. Relations between Length, Elasticity, and Magnetization of Iron and Nickel Wire. Washington, DC: Gibson Bros.
  • Gallaudet, Edson F. 1920. The Gallaudet Review. East Greenwich: Gallaudet Aircraft Corp.
  • Gallaudet, Edson. 1915. Affidavit (in The Wright Company vs. The Curtiss Aeroplane Company lawsuit). New York: January 8, 1915, 11 pages, plus illustrations. (Source: Renstrom, Arthur G. 2002. WILBUR & ORVILLE WRIGHT—A Bibliography Commemorating the One-Hundredth Anniversary of the FIRST POWERED FLIGHT, DECEMBER 17, 1903 at the Wayback Machine (archived January 4, 2011), Monographs in Aerospace History, Number 27, September 2002, p. 87.) (Unpublished.)


  1. ^ Notable Gallaudets in American History
  2. ^ National Air and Space Museum Archived May 26, 2009, at the Wayback Machine. National Mall Building, Early Flight – Gallery 107, artifact display
  3. ^ Gannon, Jack. 1981. Deaf Heritage–A Narrative History of Deaf America, Silver Spring, MD: National Association of the Deaf, pp. 175 (PDF Archived March 28, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.)
  4. ^ Edson F. Gallaudet at www.earlyaviators.com
  5. ^ Gannon, Jack. 1981. Deaf Heritage–A Narrative History of Deaf America, Silver Spring, MD: National Association of the Deaf, pp. 175, 177 (PDF Archived March 28, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.)(PDF Archived March 28, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.)
  6. ^ Patillo, Donald M. Pushing the Envelope: The American Aircraft Industry (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1998), 19.
  7. ^ "Obituary Record of Graduates of Yale University Deceased during the year 1945–1946" (PDF). Yale University. January 1, 1947. p. 32. Retrieved September 30, 2011.
  8. ^ http://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/pao/History/Timeline/1920-24.html NASA timeline

External links[edit]