Capsule Biographies

A : B : C : D : E : F : G : H : I : J : K : L : M
N : O : P : Q : R : S : T : U : V : W : Y : Z


Born at Washington DC, 1919.

Charles H Kaman attended Catholic University and graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Aeronautical Engineering degree. Following college, he was employed at the Hamilton Standard division of United Aircraft where within a few years he became chief aerodynamicist. In 1945, at age 26, he started Kaman Corp with a $2,000 investment by two friends and some basic laboratory equipment which evolved into a $1 billion company.

Kaman created a series of helicopters as the company's first pursuit in business. These aircraft, incorporating his landmark invention of aerodynamic servo-flap rotor blade control tp provide stability, ease of flight, and low control forces. His H-43B was the first helicopter to go through its service life with no loss of life or accidents attributable to the aircraft.

Kaman led the way in engineering developments in a wide range of VTOL technologies, including compound helicopters, convertaplanes, jet-driven rotors, rotorchutes, and drones. His list of firsts include the servo-controlled rotor, gas-turbine powered helicopter, twin-turbine-powered helicopter, production turbine-powered helicopter, first production all-composite rotor blade, and remotely controlled helicopter.

In 1997 the National Aeronautic Association presented Kaman with the Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy for his "more than 50 years of contributions to the development of rotary-wing flight, and a lifetime of services to his country as an engineer, entrepreneur, visionary and humanitarian," and for his contributions to rotary-wing aviation and technology as a whole, President Clinton awarded the National Medal of Technology in July 1996. That same year he was enshrined in the Hall of Honor of the National Museum of Naval Aviation. Kaman has received honorary doctorates, as well, from the universities of Connecticut, Hartford, and Colorado. Inducted Inventors Hall of Fame 2003. Lesser know to the aviation fraternity is that Kaman also invented the Ovation electric guitar, foundation of Kaman Music Corp, a company subsidiary that is now the USA's largest independent distributor of musical instruments.


Born at Wheeling WV, May 8, 1895. Died July 27, 1962.

James Howard "Dutch" Kindelberger was the son of steelworker. He spent a year at the Carnegie Institute of Technology before joining the Army in 1917 just prior to World War I, serving in the Aviation Section of the Signal Corps and as a pilot instructor at Park Field in Memphis TN during the war.

In 1920 he became chief draftsman and assistant chief engineer with the Glenn L Martin Aircraft Co in Cleveland and, in 1925, joined Douglas Aircraft in California as chief engineer. He remained there for nine years, leading production of the DC-1 and -2.

In 1934 Kindelberger became president and general manager of General Aviation, later renamed North American Aviation Inc, and served as general manager until 1948, when he became chairman and chief executive officer. He retired in 1960 as CEO at the age of 65 and was succeeded by Leland Atwood, but remained as chairman of the board until his death two years later. Under Kindelberger's direction between 1935 and 1967, North American Aviation built more military aircraft than any other airplane manufacturer in US history.


Born in Iowa, December 16, 1882. Died July 4, 1957.
In 1920 Winfield Bertrum Kinner, working as an aircraft engineer, decided to go on his own and established the first municipally-owned airport in Los Angeles, below Huntington Park. Kinner Field was a modest start, with a small hangar and a 1200' dirt runway, and ex-barnstormer Anita Snook as his first and only employee to run a flight school and work as a mechanic while he concentrated on airplane designs as the Kinner Airplane & Motor Corporation.

His first product was a small, 60hp lightplane that he named Airster, and Snook was its test-pilot. This yellow prototype attracted a first customer in December 1920, one Amelia Earhart, who bought it for $2000 to take flying lessons from Snook and christened it "The Canary." Earhart soloed in her ship and, after Snook left to get married, stayed on and continued to build flying time. In October 1921, she used the Airster to set a world altitude record for women pilots of 14,000', the first of her many records.

Kinner expanded his design to produce a series of lightplanes that became popular, allowing the business to grow into larger quarters in Glendale, as well as acquiring the Security National Aircraft Corp at Downey Field to build the Security Airster. Coincidentally, Kinner's line of efficient three- and five-cylinder radial engines powered many civil and military aircraft in the late '20s and '30s. The airplane business ended in the mid-'30s because of the Depression, but his engines were produced well into the war years for primary trainers.

Bert Kinner is one of 14 aviation pioneers laid to rest in the Portal of the Folded Wings next to Burbank Airport.


Born at Lancaster OH, July 15, 1875. Died at Temple City CA, March 6, 1960

One of this nation's first pilots of lighter-than-air craft.

1904 - Piloted the California Arrow, one of the first dirigibles in the USA, at the St Louis World's Fair.

1905 - Raced the California Arrow against a Pope-Toledo automobile from Curtis Park in Los Angeles to the Raymond Hotel in Pasadena, winning by a margin of two minutes.

1909 - Manager for the Wright Brothers Exhibition Flying Team, booking their events.

1910 - Demonstrated a dirigible in numerous events at the Dominguez Hills Air Meet.

Roy Knabenshue is one of 14 aviation pioneers laid to rest in the Portal of the Folded Wings next to Burbank Airport.

Enshrined in National Aviation Hall of Fame 1965.