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Tigers: Tracking a Legend
Edward A. Stinson
Edward A. "Eddie" Stinson, one of four children of Scotch/Irish parents Edward and Emma Stinson, was born in Fort Payne, Alabama in 1894.
Eddie's older sisters, Katherine and Marjorie gravitated to the infant aviation business almost before they were out of their teens, providing a natural path for Eddie, who had already displayed considerable mechanical aptitude as well as a free-wheeling appreciation of the good life.
In the fall of 1915, Eddie, who had been working as a mechanic at his sister's San Antonio, Texas, flying school, enrolled in the Orville Wright School of Flying at Dayton, Ohio. Here he received his first and possibly only formal flight training. Rejoining his sisters in Texas, Eddie continued his training, and in December, 1915, qualified for his F.A.I. pilot certificate.
The U.S. Army's aviation training center, Kelly Field, was established at San Antonio on April 10, 1917, just three days after the declaration of war against Germany. Eddie, then a buck private at Kelly, was designated a flight instructor and was subsequently hired as a senior civilian instructor. Kelly graduates described Eddie as a confident, cool-headed aerobatic virtuoso who could perform any maneuver in the book, plus a number of original stunts from his own repertoire.
At war's end, Eddie left the Air Service and for a time carried passengers, one of whom was an attractive milliners' model, Estelle Judy, whom Eddie married.
In his relatively short aviation career, Eddie was part of every phase of the industry; barnstormer, stunt pilot, flight instructor, test pilot, airline operator, aircraft inventor and builder, salesman, manufacturing executive, and in the words of his contemporaries, "dean of American airmen."
Along the way he built up sufficient momentum to enable his Stinson Aircraft Corporation of Michigan to grow and prosper long after his death.
Eddie Stinson died January 25, 1932, following an early evening emergency landing attempt on Chicago's Jackson park golf course.
Edward Stinson, a free spirited hero of aviation's glorious golden years, was enshrined on September 15, 1990.