William T. Piper
|William T. Piper|
Piper in 1957
William Thomas Piper|
January 8, 1881
Olean, New York, U.S.
January 15, 1970 (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)|
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Service/||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".
Piper served in the Spanish–American War and World War I, in the latter as a captain in the Corps of Engineers. 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
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.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to William T. Piper.|
- William Piper biography in the Army Aviation Association of America
- William T. Piper at Find a Grave
- Obituary from The New York Times
- Piper in the NASM's Pioneers of Flight Gallery
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