Company History Intertwined With Aviation
Ford Motor Company founder Henry Ford had a
similar pioneering vision for aviation as he did for the automobile. Ford
recognized the Wright brothers' genius and impact of their discoveries in
transportation. Ford, joined by his son Edsel B. Ford, laid the foundation
for our modern system of commercial aviation including the world's first
modern airport with concrete runway and the popularization of all-metal
aircraft with the Ford Tri-Motor.
Fordís Contribution to Aviation
- Henry Ford founds Ford Motor Company.
- Orville Wright makes first controlled,
powered flight at Kitty Hawk, N.C.
- Orville and Wilbur Wright receive U.S.
patent for a powered aircraft.
- Ford introduces Model T, destined to be
one of the world's most popular cars.
- Glenn Curtiss makes first public
airplane flight in United States. Wright Brothers begin series of
flying demonstrations in France that bring worldwide acclaim.
- Henry and Edsel Ford help Charles Van
Auken build a primitive monoplane powered by a Ford Model T engine.
- Wilbur Wright dies of typhoid.
- Henry Ford sets up first mass-production
assembly line at his Highland Park, Mich., plant that turns out cars
in one-tenth of the time. Ford later applies process to aircraft
- Ford Motor Company mass-produces the
American-designed "Liberty" aircraft engine and develops
engines for the Kettering "Bug," America's first guided
- Construction begins on massive, historic
Rouge automotive manufacturing complex, which played an instrumental
role in Ford Motor Company's efforts during World War II.
- Edsel Ford succeeds his father, Henry,
as president of Ford Motor Company
- Edsel Ford invests in the Stout Metal
Airplane Company, formed to design and build the first commercial
all-metal airplane in the United States.
- Ford Airport at Dearborn, Michigan, is
dedicated. It is the first modern airport in the world and begins the
all-metal commercial airliner industry in the United States.
- Ford buys Stout Metal Airplane Company
and forms Ford's Airplane Development Division.
- Ford Air Transport Service, the world's
first regularly scheduled commercial airline, begins freight service
from Detroit to Chicago, with later runs to Cleveland and Buffalo.
- Ford builds the first of 196 Ford
Tri-Motor Airplanes, which are later used by America's first
- Ford builds the first privately owned
dirigible mooring mast in the world.
- First Wright "Whirlwind"
engine-equipped Ford 4-AT Tri-Motor comes onto the market. It
represents a tremendous technological advance over existing aircraft
and enables Ford's new Airplane Manufacturing Division to become the
world's largest manufacturer of commercial aircraft.
- First successful radio guided flight,
using system developed by Ford Motor Company.
- Richard Byrd makes the first flight over
the North Pole in a Tri-Motor named the "Josephine Ford" in
honor of Henry's granddaughter.
- Ford Motor Company is the first private
operator to fly the U.S. Air Mail.
- Ford Motor Company is first to establish
assembly line method of producing airplanes.
- Charles Lindbergh becomes first person
to fly solo nonstop across Atlantic. He takes Henry Ford on his first
airplane ride and becomes Ford Motor Company's chief pilot.
- First paved runway in the world is
installed at Ford Airport.
- Richard Byrd flies the Ford 4AT-B over
the South Pole.
- Henry Ford and Thomas Edison dedicate
the Edison Institute (later called the Henry Ford Museum &
Greenfield Village) in Dearborn, Mich., on the 50th anniversary of the
discovery of the electric light. Historic pieces collected include the
Wright brothers' home and cycle shop.
- Dearborn Inn opens adjacent to Ford
Airport, one of the first U.S. hotels specifically built for the air
- Ford Motor Company builds first general
purpose (G.P., or "jeep") vehicle for the U.S. military at
- Company halts civilian car production to
produce B-24 Liberator Bombers, aircraft engines, gliders and jet-bomb
- Ford Motor Company pilots conduct
high-altitude engine tests, contributing invaluable data on the
ignition systems operations and engine performance at extreme
- Edsel Ford dies at age 49; Henry Ford
resumes leadership of company.
- Ford Motor Company builds one B-24
bomber an hour at its Willow Run assembly plant.
- Ford Motor Company returns to full-time
- Henry Ford II is named Ford Motor
- Henry Ford II hires 10 young former U.S.
Air Force officers, nicknamed the Whiz Kids, who bring the principles
of modern management to the company.
- Henry Ford dies at age 83 at Fair Lane,
his estate in Dearborn.
- Ford Motor Company introduces the
Thunderbird, whose name is rooted in aviation.
- Aeronutronic becomes Ford Motor Company
- Ford Motor Company acquires Philco
Corporation, later named Philco-Ford Corporation.
- Ford Motor Company folds Aeronutronic
into Philco, strengthening Ford Motor Company's overall participation
in space and defense markets.
- Ford Motor Company introduces the Ford
Mustang, whose name is inspired by the WWII fighter plane.
- Philco-Ford becomes Aeronutronic Ford
Corporation, then Ford Aerospace & Communications Corporation in
- Henry Ford, a great pioneer of U.S.
commercial aviation, is enshrined in the National Aviation Hall of
Fame in Dayton, Ohio.
- Ford Aerospace sold to Loral
- William Clay Ford Jr. becomes chairman
of Ford Motor Company. In October 2001, he adds the role of Chief
- Ford Motor Company presents EAA's
Countdown to Kitty Hawk, the centerpiece of the nation's celebration
of the centennial of flight.
- Ford's Living Legends Tour kicks off,
including aviation-related favorites the Mustang and Thunderbird.
- Ford Motor Company celebrates its 100th
anniversary, the same year the world celebrates the 100th anniversary
of the Wright brothers' first flight.
- EAA's Countdown to Kitty Hawk presented
by Ford Motor Company exclusively re-enacts the Wright brothers' first
flight at Kitty Hawk, N.C., on Dec. 17, 2003 - exactly 100 years later
- with the world's most-accurate 1903 Wright Flyer reproduction.
- Authentic reproduction of 1903 Wright
Flyer given to the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Mich., for public