What are the contributions made to aviation by

a) William Piper 

b) Harry Houdini

Expert Answers

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William T. Piper, Sr. was an aviation industrialist early in the history of the industry.  He served in the Army during the Spanish-American War then returned to the oil business in Pennsylvania.  When the oil industry in that state began to wane, Piper ended up investing in an airplane manufacturing company.  He eventually owned the company and began manufacturing airplanes with the Piper Aircraft Corporation in Lock Haven, Pennsylvania in the 1930's.  During the second world war, his popular aircraft model "Cub" became popular with the military (the military models were nicknamed "Grasshoppers") in both Europe and the Pacific.  After the war, he became known as the "Henry Ford of the aviation industry" by mass producing affordable small airplanes and offering low cost flying lessons with the purchase of one.  He is credited with greatly expanding the personal aircraft industry in the latter half of the 20th century.

Harry Houdini is better known as a popular magician and escape artist at the turn of the century than as a figure in the aviation industry.  At the height of his career he was an avid fan of flying.  He got his pilot's license, purchased an aircraft, and even hired a full time mechanic to work on it.  He does hold the record for making the first controlled plane flight in Australia in March of 1910, completing a flight of about six miles in seven and a half minutes less than seven years after the Wright brothers made their famous first flight in the US.  He was the first pioneer aviator to capture his achievement with film cameras.

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