Inductee Profile

Alexander Seversky

Alexander Procofieff de Seversky was a Georgian-born American (b. June 7, 1894) aviation pioneer, inventor, and influential advocate of strategic air power.

He served as a Russian naval aviator in World War I, lost a leg in combat, and continued to fly, shooting down thirteen German aircraft. In 1917 he entered the U. S. as a member of the naval aviation mission and decided to stay. He worked as a test pilot and became an assistant to air power advocate General Billy Mitchell. He applied for and received the first patent for air-to-air refueling in 1921. In 1927, he became a naturalized citizen of the United States.

He founded the Seversky Aircraft Corporation in 1931 which later became the Republic Aviation Company, which and produced many planes, including the famous Republic P-47 Thunderbolt. Republic was acquired by Fairchild in 1965. Seversky was always good at capturing the public eye, and was considered a newsworthy celebrity. In 1942 The New York Times considered it news that "Airplane Designer Rents Apartment: Major Seversky One Of Seven New Tenants in 40 Central Park South."

He is most famous as the author of the influential 1942 book, Victory Through Air Power, which Disney adapted into a motion picture. Seversky argued for the immediate development of long-range bombers, specifically intercontinental bombers capable of directly striking Germany and Japan from the U.S. without refuelling. Seversky was one of a number of strategic air advocates whose vision was realized in the 1946 creation of the Strategic Air Command and the development of aircraft such as the Convair B-36 and B-47 Stratojet.

Seversky continued to publicize his ideas for innovative aircraft and weaponry, notably the 1964 Ionocraft which was to be a single-man aircraft powered by the ionic wind from a high-voltage discharge. A laboratory demonstration was acknowledged to require 90 watts to lift a two ounce (60 g) model, and no man-carrying version was ever built.

Seversky was a trustee of The New York Institute of Technology, which in 1972 acquired an elegant mansion originally built by Alfred I. DuPont. It was renamed "The DeSeversky Center" in his honor, and is a popular venue for weddings. He died on August 24, 1974