June 12, 2019

Residents: EDMUND T. ALLEN

This installment of notable Tudor City residents spotlights Edmund T. Allen, aviation pioneer and Woodstock Tower resident. Here is his life, in bullet points:

Allen at the controls of a B-17.
✈ Born 1896 in Chicago. Begins his aviation career in World War I as a pilot instructor in the U.S. Army Signal Corps.

✈ Works as a freelance test pilot in the 1920s, and is the first to fly famous aircraft like the Douglas DC-1, the Curtiss C-46 Commando, and Boeing's 307 Stratoliner. Becomes known as "the dean of test pilots."

✈ Takes an apartment in The Woodstock in the late 1930s, and is the subject of a profile in Tudor City View, the neighborhood gazette. Some excerpts:
Mr. Allen is at the top of the test-flying field, and takes them all on, from the tiniest pursuit plane to the mammoth craft that seemingly outwit all laws of gravitation. . . He spends days, and sometimes weeks, on the ground with a plane before taking it aloft. . . His practical experience and technical knowledge take a certain amount of risk out of test-hopping, and he can size a plane up and know whether to take it aloft or walk away from it. This latter alternative doesn't happen often. 
Allen in front of The Woodstock, with
a sign for the Tudor City Rental Office behind him.

✈ Appointed head of Boeing's Research Division in 1939, in charge of all flight testing. After America enters World War II, Boeing is awarded a contract to build the most technologically advanced airplane of the time, the B-29 Superfortress. Allen will be the first to fly it.

✈  On February 18, 1943, he is maneuvering the Superfortress over Seattle when an engine fire breaks out. He makes a desperate run for Boeing Field, but the aircraft crashes into a nearby meatpacking plant, killing Allen, his eight-member crew and 19 people on the ground. The aviation community is stunned, and the disaster a major setback for the war effort.  

Allen is later honored with posthumous awards for his contributions to aviation, including the Distinguished Flying Cross from President Truman.

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