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Tigers: Tracking a Legend
Ivan H. Driggs
Ivan H. Driggs was born April 8, 1894 in Lansing, Michigan. He graduated from high school in 1912 and attended Michigan Agriculture College. Taking a job as a draftsmen at the Burgess Company, Marble Head, Mass. In 1914, he began an aviation career that spanned more than forty years until his death in 1955.
Throughout the years of 1915 and 1916 he designed, built and flew an airplane, the first of many that would follow. In 1917 he went to McCook Field, Dayton, Ohio, where he designed improvements to the Nelson gun synchronizer. Following World War I, he supervised the mechanical dsign of the RB-1-the first airplane with practical retractable landing gear, wing flaps, enclosed cockpit, streamlined fuselage and full cantilever wings- at the Dayton-Wright Co.
In 1923, he helped start Consolidated Aircraft Co. in East Greenwich, Rhode Island. Returning to Dayton in 1924, he continued to design and build aircraft including the Dart I. in 1927, he started Driggs Aircraft Company in Lansing, Michigan where he built the Dart II and over twenty Skylark aircraft.
In 1933, Ivan joined Don Luscombe to start the Luscombe Aircraft Corp. in Kansas City. Here he designed the Luscombe Phantom, the first production light plane with an all metal frame and monocoque fuselage. In 1936 he joined the Glenn L. Martin Co. in Baltimore, Maryland as head of Research and Development.
When J.S. McDonnell started McDonnell Aircraft Corp. in 1939, Ivan became its Vice President and Chief Engineer. When World War II began in 1941, Ivan joined the Navy Bureau of Aeronautics becoming Director of the Research Division and then Chief Scientist of the naval Air Development Center overseeing the Electronic, Armament, Aircraft Instrument, Photographic, Guided Weapon and Medical Development laboratories.
He was appointed a Fellow in the Royal Aeronautical Society and Institute of Aeronautical Sciences, and received an Honorary Doctorate from Stevens Institute of Technology.
Ivan H. Driggs was enshrined in the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on October 19, 1996 for his outstanding contributions to aviation from its earliest days of fabric covered, piston engine powered aircraft to the era of jet powered aircraft.