De Havilland Company

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The De Havilland Aircraft Company was formed by Geoffrey De Havilland on September 25 1920. De Havilland had built and flown his first aircraft on September 10 1910. His was one of the first British aeroplanes that really flew. He was one of the few pioneers who remained at the head of the early aviation companies of their own founding.

He formed The De Havilland Aircraft Company Limited after the closing down of The Aircraft Manufacturing Company Limited, of which he had been the chief designer under G. Holt Thomas throughout the war.

One-third of the air strength of the allies, including nearly all the combat aircraft built in America in that five-year conflict, were of de Havilland design.

In 1927 De Havilland committed to building aircraft in Canada. In early 1928 his company took over a derelict warehouse at Mount Dennis in Toronto. At this facility over the next 30 years the Tiger Moth, Mosquito, Beaver, Otter, Caribou and many other important aircraft were created.

De Havilland Canada Mount Dennis Toronto (January 1928)

The Beaver was an aircraft that had been carefully and confidently planned — the introduction of a plane that would meet the bush operator's every need — but it was difficult to foresee that it would be the beginning of an era in which the Canadian company's STOL utility aircraft would become familiar sights from Oslo to Hong Kong.

The first Beaver sold abroad was exported to South Africa in 1948. Quick to see the advance of the less developed nations and the need for the STOL utility aircraft in many areas throughout the world where " workhorse " ability was a prime consideration, the Canadian company began to reach out for export orders to the far corners of the earth. These efforts proved highly rewarding. Of some 1,459 Beavers produced by 1960, 1,230 were exported abroad. They were operating in 62 different countries, on all the seven continents, and practically from pole to pole.

The Otter sales-promotion story followed a similar pattern. More than 400 Otters came off the assembly lines by 1960; of these 298 found their way to 29 different countries, widely separated by distance, climate and operational needs.

The market for a multi-engine STOL utility transport Caribou was designed with world requirements specifically in mind. Of the 74 Caribou delivered and on order by 1960, 69 were for foreign markets — and the remaining five were purchased by the Canadian Government, three were flying on duties with the United Nations overseas.

de Havilland of Canada's signal success in penetrating the export markets of the world represented a substantial contribution to the Canadian economy. Export business by January, 1961, had reached a total volume of nearly 167 million dollars. Of this, more than 128 million dollars represented export sales to the United States.

In 1950 the Beaver became the first foreign aircraft on record to be introduced into the United States of America by an Act of Congress. The Buy American Act was amended to permit the purchase of Beavers for United States military requirements. That was the beginning of a long and amicable association between the de Havilland Aircraft of Canada and United States Army Aviation.

By 1961 a total of 968 Beaver L.20's, 189 Otter UI-A's, and 5 Caribou AC-I aircraft had been delivered to the United States Army. The backlog of orders on hand for delivery to the Army as of January 1961 stood at 56 Caribou. Added to this were eight Caribou aircraft on order for the Republic of Ghana — a steadfast customer of de Havilland Canada.

De Havilland Downsview Canada (1961)

With men who were his colleagues at the beginning De Havilland had striven to develop the little firm which he formed into a world-wide group of companies employing more than 37,000 people by 1960. Under his leadership, Francis T. Hearle, Charles C. Walker, Wilfred E. Nixon and Francis E.N. St. Barbe, founder members of the company, headed the working team that directed the organisation through the years of peace and conflict in which this expansion came about.

1n the fortieth year of the enterprise, the year which marked the half-century of de Havilland's own flying experience, he saw it united with a group headed by a notable pioneer of military aircraft design, Sir Thomas Sopwith, whom he knew well from the very early days. Great names, including those of A. V. Roe, Hawker, Gloster, Armstrong Whitworth, Blackburn and Folland, were brought together for the tasks of the second half-century of the de Havilland group, for the era of supersonic flight near and beyond the limit of the Earth's atmosphere.

Through the first World War, through the day of the Moth and the first Gipsy engines, through the struggle to achieve unsubsidised air transport on very little traffic, through the second great war effort and the age of the jet-turbine fighter and airliner, to the point where a de Havilland company directed the engineering of a rocket that could have been a deadly missile or a vehicle of space travel.

Sir Geoffrey's interest, with those around him, always lay in the engineering itself. Sir Thomas Sopwith and he were encouraged by the technical ability and resources of the combined teams, headed by men such as Sir Roy Dobson and Sir Aubrey Burke, who like themselves had come forward along the hard path of experience.