Inductee Profile

Earl Dodge Osborn

EDO Corporation was founded in 1925 by the inventor of aluminum floats for seaplanes; Earl Dodge Osborn (1893-1988) who used his initials to name his new company. Born into the wealthy Dodge family in 1893-the Phelps Dodges of New York City-Osborn had fond memories of his grandfather and great grandfather. Osborn's great grandfather, David Lowe Dodge, founded the Phelps-Dodge Corporation. His grandfather, William Earl Dodge, carried it on.

In the early 1900s Osborn's mother was one of six owners of the Phelps-Dodge Corporation. His father was a lawyer by profession, but spent most of his time as President of the Metropolitan Museum. He had a sister and two brothers.

Osborn graduated from a Pre-World War I Princeton that had been modeled after Oxford University. Following graduation in 1915, he joined the American Ambulance Corps and served on the Vosges front. In the fall of 1915, he joined the Hoover Committee on Belgian Relief and revealed an aptitude for administration that soon placed him in charge of feeding and caring for civilians in the Province of Luxembourg.

In April, 1917, on America's entry into World War I, all Americans were ousted from German occupied territory. Mr. Osborn immediately returned to France and rejoined the Ambulance corps where he became the head of a section of ambulances. He was wounded during a German attack on Verdun and spent six weeks in a French hospital.

Back in the states in 1920, Osborn spent a year with a brokerage firm in New York City, then two years as an assistant treasurer and radio operator for the flying boat company, Aeromarine Airways, Keyport, New Jersey, a subsidiary of Aeromarine Plane and Motor Company. At Aeromarine in 1928 Osborn learned to fly. As a beginning pilot, Osborn recognized a need to simplify aircraft controls. He commissioned Aeromarine to build the Turtle No. 1 Model EO. This was the craft which he eventually soloed. The Turtle was a pioneer flying boat with an all-metal hull and wing tip floats.

In 1923, Osborn helped start and was co-owner of Aviation Magazine, the predecessor of today's Aviation Week. In 1924, he became publisher and editor. Gradually he built a national reputation through his editorials supporting the advancement of aviation. In 1925, Osborn realized his desire to start his own company when he established EDO Aircraft (which became EDO Corporation in 1947) with three friends in a shed like building in College Point, Queens.

EDO's early floats included models for many pioneering aviators such as Leroy Grumman, Charles Lindbergh, Amelia Earhart, James Doolittle and Admiral Richard Byrd. From the Arctic to the Antarctic, EDO floats supported exploration and the growing field of aviation. Airplanes equipped with EDO floats set many of the early speed and endurance records and expanded the use of airplanes to the remotest parts of the world.

Earl Dodge Osborn oversaw many of EDO Corporation's notable innovations and retired as Chairman of the Board of EDO Corporation in 1962. Today, EDO stands as the second oldest aerospace company in the U.S. under the same continuous management.