Richard Chichester du Pont
Richard Chichester du Pont
du Pont circa 1930-1940
|Died||September 11, 1943 (aged 32)|
|Cause of death||Military aircraft crash|
|Education||University of Virginia|
|Known for||Co-founder: All American Aviation|
U.S. National Soaring Champion
(1934, 1935, 1937)
|Spouse(s)||Helena Allaire Crozer|
|Children||Richard Jr. (1937–1986)|
Lana (b. 1939)
|Parent(s)||A. Felix du Pont &|
Alexis Felix, Jr. (1905-1996)
Lydia Chichester (1907-1958)
Alice Frances (1912-2002)
Richard Chichester du Pont (January 2, 1911 – September 11, 1943) was an American businessman and an aviation and glider pioneer who was a member of the prominent Du Pont family. He was the founder of the major US legacy carrier US Airways, after serving as a special assistant to General Henry H. Arnold, the chief of the United States Air Forces.
As a young boy he developed an enthusiasm for aviation and took flying lessons. His interest in flight expanded to include gliders and he was flying them while still a teenager. At the University of Virginia, he founded a campus soaring club. In 1932, he went to study aviation at the Curtiss-Wright Technical Institute. That year, he and his sister Alice (1912–2002) flew an open-cockpit airplane up the Amazon River.
In 1933, Richard du Pont partnered with Hawley Bowlus to set up the Bowlus-du Pont Sailplane Company, a glider manufactory in San Fernando, California. Du Pont made a record flight in one of their sailplanes on September 21, 1933, taking off from Afton Mountain into the Rockfish Gap and gliding 121.6 miles to Frederick, Maryland. The firm remained in business for only a few years, ceasing operations in September 1936.
On March 19, 1934, Richard du Pont married Helena Allaire Crozer. They had two children, Richard Chichester du Pont, Jr. and Lana du Pont.
Richard du Pont and his older brother Alexis Felix du Pont, Jr. (1905–1996) established the forerunner to US Airways and now renamed American Airlines, the largest airline in the world. Their All American Aviation Company was at first an airmail service that eventually serviced parts of Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Kentucky, and Ohio. In 1949, the company began passenger service and changed its name to All American Airways and then to Allegheny Airlines.
During World War II, the United States War Department created the American Glider Program. After the death of the program's director, Lewin B. Barringer, Richard du Pont was made a Special Assistant to General "Hap" Arnold and placed in charge of the glider program at Army Air Force Headquarters. On September 11, 1943, at March Air Field in California, Richard du Pont was killed when the experimental XCG-16 glider in which he was a passenger crashed during a demonstration flight. After bailing out of the aircraft his parachute failed. His brother, Major Alexis Felix du Pont, Jr., was appointed to succeed him as head of the glider program.
A three-time U.S. National Soaring Champion, since 1947 the Richard C. du Pont Memorial Trophy has been awarded annually to the U.S. National Open Class Soaring Champion. An American Legion post in Claymont, Delaware is named in his honor. Upon the creation of the Soaring Hall of Fame in 1954 by the Soaring Society of America, Richard du Pont was part of the first group of inductees.
His widow, Allaire du Pont, operated Woodstock Farm in Chesapeake City, Maryland and owned Bohemia Stable, best known for the Hall of Fame thoroughbred racehorse, Kelso. She died January 6, 2006 at her Woodstock Farm near Chesapeake City, Maryland.
- Associated Press (September 12, 1943). "R.C. du Pont One of Four Killed During Glider Test for the Army. Dies as Chute Fails to Function in California. Long an Expert in Motorless Flight, He Had Been Special Aide to Arnold". New York Times. Retrieved 2012-11-25.
Richard C. du Pont, special assistant to Gen. Henry H. Arnold, chief of the United States Air Forces, and one of the country's glider experts, was one of the four men killed in a glider crash at March Field yesterday, Army officials said today. ...
- Silent Wings by Gerard M. Devlin (1985) – St. Martin's Press, ISBN 0-312-72460-8
- The Evening Independent newspaper report on the death of Richard du Pont
- October 2, 1933 article on Richard Chichester du Pont
- The Richard C. du Pont Memorial Trophy website
- The George J. Frebert collection on Delaware Aviation at Hagley Museum and Library contains documentation on the work of airline promoter Henry Belin du Pont and pilot Richard Chichester du Pont, including the latter's innovative but short-lived air-mail pick-up system for snagging mail sacks mounted on the ground.
- A finding aid for the Richard C. du Pont and Summit Aviation scrapbooks and photographs collection at Hagley Museum and Library, which contains materials focusing on his work with gliders and the establishment and growth of Summit Aviation, his son's private air transportation company.
- A finding aid for Richard C. du Pont miscellany, a research collection at Hagley Museum and Library containing materials related to Richard C. du Pont and includes news clippings, official governmental documents related to his work, and the logbook of his yacht, Nahma.