He became a kite maker as a child: Who is Allan Haines Lockheed?

Despite many setbacks (failures), American aircraft designer Lockheed was able to make a name for itself as the leader of aviation. He achieved success with his "Vega" type aircraft in the late 1920s.

By David Foster Published on 24 Mayıs 2024 : 16:34.
He became a kite maker as a child: Who is Allan Haines Lockheed?

He was born under the name Loughead in Niles, California, as the youngest of four siblings. After his parents divorced when Allan was very young, he and his mother moved to Santa Barbara. Here, together with his brothers Victor and Malcolm, he became an expert at flying kites. 

After moving to a fruit farm near Alma, California, they became fascinated with the glider experiments of resident professor John J Montgomery. First Flight with Two Pilots Victor, along with a wealthy automobile dealer, purchased one of Montgomery's gliders and hired Allan to convert it into a powered aircraft. After several trained pilots tried and failed to take off the plane several times, novice pilot Allan Loughead succeeded on his second try. 

Allan Haines Lockheed (January 20, 1889 – May 26, 1969) was an American aviation engineer and businessman. He formed the Alco Hydro-Aeroplane Company along with his brother, Malcolm Loughead, which became Lockheed Corporation.

Loughead, together with constructor George Gates, made the world's first two-pilot flight in 1910. Loughead operated the transverse rudder, while Gates handled the elevation and side rudders. Finding a job as a flight instructor at the International Aeroplane Manufacturing Company in Chicago, Loughead organized flight demonstrations, in which he participated with a 25% share of the income.

The first Loughead Aircraft. When Max Mamlock of Alco Cab in San Francisco agreed to sponsor Loughead, Allan, together with his brother Malcolm, produced the G model, which was later named "ALCO No.l", within 18 months. When the expected income from city tours by plane was not achieved, Mamlock confiscated the plane and demanded back the $4,000 he had invested in this business as the purchase price of the plane. 

After searching for gold in California for two years in vain, the Loughead brothers, who were broke, found a new financier and acquired the G 1915 model. They were able to obtain licenses at the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco and in Santa Barbara in 1916, and this time they were successful. Within a few months, the two brothers earned several thousand dollars from flying demonstrations, city tours, and filming flights.

Own Companies 

In 1916, they founded their own company in Santa Barbara under the name of Loughead Aircraft Manufacturing Company and, together with John K Northrop, who was responsible for the designs and calculations, they built a ten-passenger, two-engine aircraft for tourist tours. 

Although this aircraft, called the Fl-Seaplane, was tested by the American Navy in the First World War, they did not receive the large order they expected. Loughead then changed his plane to the F-lA Land Plane. In order to show the hesitant army that his plane was suitable for long-distance flights, Loughead attempted to fly to Washington, the capital of the country, with the first transcontinental flight (crossing the continent) in November 1918, but he had to give up this attempt after an engine failure and an intermediate landing. 

When their attempt to sell a single-seat plane at an affordable price as a "poor man's plane" failed, they had to close their company around 1920/21. Loughead also worked as a real estate broker in Hollywood.

Reestablished Company 

With his new financier Fred S Keeler (chairman), Northrop (chief engineer), and Tony Stadlman (plant manager), Loughead founded the Lockheed Aircraft Corporation in 1926. 

They produced "Vega" in a garage in Hollywood. They achieved success with their fast five-seater aircraft: George Hubert Wilkins made the first successful North Pole and South Pole flight in history with his "Golden Eagle" in 1928. “Vega” broke sales records, and Lockheed became renowned as a leading airmail and passenger aircraft company, whose planes henceforth broke numerous world records.

Lockheed's desire to innovate subsided when Northrop founded his own company in 1928. His company was absorbed a year later by the market giant Detroit Aircraft Corporation. Loughead, whose expectations were not realized, withdrew from the business and sold his shares.

Second Beginning Loughead founded the unsuccessful company Lockheed Brothers Aircraft Corporation in Glendale, California, and designed the "Olympia Duo-four" model, a two-engine, five-passenger aircraft. 

Four years later, he definitively changed his name to Lockheed, and in the following years, he increasingly concentrated on his designs for the US military. During the Second World War, Lockheed became the manager of a factory producing parts for the Navy's warplanes in Grand Rapids, Michigan. After 1945, he turned to real estate brokerage again, and in the 50s, he returned to his former successful company as a consultant. 

Lockheed, who retired to Tucson/Arizona in 1961, died there at the age of 80.