William T. Piper

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William T. Piper
William T. Piper.jpg
Piper in 1957
Born William Thomas Piper
(1881-01-08)January 8, 1881
Olean, New York, U.S.
Died January 15, 1970(1970-01-15) (aged 89)
Lock Haven, Pennsylvania
Resting place Highland Cemetery, Lock Haven, Pennsylvania
Occupation Businessman and engineer
Known for Founder of Piper Aircraft
Net worth $30 million (1955) ($276 million in 2018 dollars)
Military career
Allegiance United StatesUnited States of America
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1897–1915

William Thomas Piper Sr. (January 8, 1881 – January 15, 1970) was an American airplane manufacturer, aviation businessman, oil industry businessman, and engineer. He was the founding president of the Piper Aircraft Corporation and led the company from 1929 until his death in 1970. He graduated from Harvard University in 1903 and later became known as "the Henry Ford of aviation".


The Piper J-3 Cub, the company’s most influential aircraft

Piper served in the Spanish–American War and World War I, in the latter as a captain in the Corps of Engineers.[citation needed] He made most of his fortune from oil wells. In 1929, he became the original investor in the Taylor Brothers Aircraft Corporation for $400 ($5,647 in 2017 dollars). A year later, during the onset of the Great Depression, the company went bankrupt and Piper bought its assets and reorganized it into the Taylor Aircraft Corporation. During this period, he sought to manufacture reliable and affordable light aircraft. In 1937, Piper established the Piper Aircraft Corporation and, by 1940, the company dominated the light aircraft market. At the time, a Piper Cub and flying lessons cost $1,325 dollars ($19,808 in 2017 dollars). The Piper Cub would go on to become the most-produced fabric-covered monoplane in history, with over 20,000 units delivered from 1938–1947.

Death and legacy[edit]

Piper died in his home in Lock Haven due to natural causes on January 15, 1970. Just prior to his death, in 1968, Piper's son, William Piper, Jr., took over the company and was appointed president. In 1970, Piper Jr. was also named chairman by the board, and in 1973, Piper Aircraft was sold, moving from Pennsylvania to where it is located today, Vero Beach, Florida.

In 1980, William Piper was posthumously inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame.[1]

In 1993, Piper was inducted into the International Air & Space Hall of Fame at the San Diego Air & Space Museum.[2]

The William T. Piper Memorial Airport in Lock Haven, Pennsylvania is named in his honor.


  1. ^ "William Piper, Sr". National Aviation Hall of Fame. Retrieved September 3, 2012. 
  2. ^ Sprekelmeyer, Linda, editor. These We Honor: The International Aerospace Hall of Fame. Donning Co. Publishers, 2006. ISBN 978-1-57864-397-4.

External links[edit]