Michael Gregor (aircraft engineer)

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Left-to-right: George Ayde, Can-Car representative David Boyd and designer Michael Gregor standing at a FDB-1 fighter.

Michael Gregor, born Mikheil Grigorashvili (Georgian: მიხეილ გრიგორაშვილი) or Mikhail Leontyevich Grigorashvili (Russian: Михаил Леонтьевич Григорашвили) (1888 – 1953) was an aircraft engineer of Georgian origin, one of the pioneering aviators in the Russian Empire, the United States, and Canada.[1]

Early years[edit]

Born in Derbent, Russia, Grigorashvili graduated from the Imperial Institute of Communications in St. Petersburg and was trained as a pilot in France in 1911.


Upon his return to Russia, Grigorashvili worked as an instructor for pilots and joined the army as an officer in World War I. The Bolshevik coup in 1917 forced him to retire to a newly independent Georgia where he worked as a road engineer in the Georgian ministry for communications.

United States[edit]

After the Soviet takeover of Georgia in 1921, he went in exile to the United States where he would naturalize in 1926. Having briefly worked for a minor aviation factory in Rhode Island, Grigorashvili, by then known as Gregor, was recruited as an aircraft designer by the Dayton-Wright Company in 1921 and Curtiss-Wright in 1923. In 1934, Gregor founded his own firm Gregor Aircraft which constructed an original light plane 1GR-1.


Two years later, Gregor was employed by the Canadian Car and Foundry and designed FDB-1 biplane fighter.[2] Despite being an advanced and innovative design, incorporating all-metal construction with flush riveting, retractable undercarriage and a sleek shape, the FDB-I was overtaken by events and, after being unable to find a buyer, was lost in a fire in 1945.[3][4]

Final years[edit]

In the 1940s, Gregor worked as one of the leading designers for the Chase Aircraft company. He died in Trenton, New Jersey.[5][6] [7]



  1. ^ "Gregor’s Geldings ... FDB-1 & GR-1." Long Island early Flyers, 2009. Retrieved: March 24, 2012.
  2. ^ Milberry 1979, p. 111.
  3. ^ Burkowski and Beauchamp 1997, p. 12.
  4. ^ Smith 1981, p. 49.
  5. ^ Mikheyev, V. "Михаил Леонтьевич Григорашвили" (Russian). Russian Academy of Sciences Institute for History of Natural Sciences and Technology. Retrieved: 16 June 2008.
  6. ^ "Russian Aviation." Time, 14 June 1937. Retrieved: 13 June 2008.
  7. ^ "Detailed Biography of Michael Gregor, born Mikheil Grigorashvili, one of the Aviation pioneers of Russian Empire, USA and Canada." linkgeorgia.com, May 13, 2011. Retrieved: March 24, 2012.


  • Burkowski, Gordon and Gerry Beauchamp. "Twin Wings and not even a Prayer." Wings, Vol. 27, no. 10, June 1997.
  • Milberry, Larry. Aviation in Canada. Toronto: McGraw-Hill Ryerson Limited, 1979. ISBN 0-07-082778-8.
  • Molson, Ken M. and Harold A. Taylor. Canadian Aircraft Since 1909. Stittsville, Ontario: Canada's Wings, Inc., 1982. ISBN 0-920002-11-0.
  • Smith, Fred. "One to Remember: Flying the Gregor FDB-1." Air Classics, Vol. 17, no. 5, May 1981.