1915 - 1996
"Journey on into air and space; my heart goes with you forever"
n aviation pioneer whose aircraft design career spanned the era
from biplanes to rockets, Benson Hamlin's fascination with flight
began when he was a young boy in Lakeville, Connecticut. He learned
to fly an airplane, but his greater interest was how and why they
Mr. Hamlin's goal as a young man was to become
an aeronautical engineer. He attained that goal by earning full
scholarships to The Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, Connecticut,
and to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), Troy, New York.
He graduated from RPI in the school's first class of aeronautical
engineers -- a class of thirteen -- in 1937.
Mr. Hamlin's forty year career began at Chance-Vought Aircraft
Corporation in Connecticut. Throughout his career, his desire
to acquire greater knowledge, experience, and expertise in his
field led him to airplane companies such as Bell Aircraft in Buffalo,
New York. While at Bell he was the principal designer of the preliminary
concept for the Bell X-1, the first supersonic aircraft,
now on display in the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum.
Mr. Hamlin's historic achievement was recognized
in 1993 when he was awarded the American Institute of Aeronautics
and Astronautics' prestigious Aircraft Design Award. While at
Bell he also designed extremely sophisticated microwave missile-guided
systems before the days of solid-state electronics.
During Mr. Hamlin's aeronautical quest, he worked
for companies such as as Vega Aircraft in California; General
Electric in Cincinnati; Bell Helicopter in Arlington, Texas; and
Boeing in Seattle. While at Boeing he served as assistant program
manager of the Dynasoar Program. At Boeing-Cape Canaveral, he
worked on the Apollo Program.
Mr. Hamlin was inducted into the Niagara Frontier Aviation Hall
of Fame in Amherst, New York in 1987. He wrote a classic textbook,
Flight Testing Conventional and Jet Propelled Aircraft,
and was cited by other authors in many publications.
In life, Benson Hamlin ranked as a pioneer in aeronautics and
astronautics. His was a never-ending journey for experience and
knowledge. His participation in the Founders Flight is
a fitting tribute to this leader of humanity's journey to the