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Companies with an aviation heartCompanies with an aviation heart

Did you know these companies have aviation in their background?
Ford 4AT Trimotor


Henry Ford and his son Edsel invested in the Stout Metal Airplane Co. in the early 1920s. William Bushnell Stout was an aeronautical engineer who had previously designed aircraft for Hugo Junkers. The Ford Trimotor resembled Junkers’ Fokker F.VII except that it was all-metal. The Ford Trimotor was manufactured from 1925 until 1933; 199 were made.



Founder Jack C. Taylor named the rental car company he founded in 1957 after the aircraft carrier he served on during World War II, the USS Enterprise.



The Swiss watchmaker added a circular slide rule to the bezel of its chronograph models for pilots in the 1940s. Later it added a 24-hour dial at the suggestion of astronaut Scott Campbell.



Charles Goodyear invented vulcanized rubber for tires on automobiles and aircraft and introduced airships and blimps in the 1900s. The first blimp used for advertising was in 1925.



The hotel chain invented the in-flight meal service for the airlines in 1937.

eddie bauer

Eddie Bauer

The U.S. Army Air Corps commissioned Eddie Bauer to make the B-9 Flight Parka in 1942 to keep pilots warm at high altitudes. Some 50,000 parkas were made during World War II.


General Electric

GE Capital Aviation Services is the largest commercial airline leasing/financing company in the world. It has a fleet of 1,800 aircraft used by 245 airlines around the world. GE Aviation is a top aircraft engine supplier. General Electric is one of the world’s largest corporations.



The automobile company was a division of Svenska Aeroplan AB, later Saab AB, a Swedish aerospace and defense company, from 1947 until 1990.



This German motorcycle and car company began as Rapp Motorenwerke Aircraft and produced aircraft and engines for Germany in World War I. It turned to motorcycle production as aircraft production was disallowed under the Treaty of Versailles. In World War II, Bayerische Motoren Werke again produced aircraft for the Luftwaffe. The BMW logo is based on the original Rapp logo, with the blue and white colors representing the flag of Bavaria.

SC Johnson

SC Johnson

In 1935, H.F. Johnson Jr. flew in a twin-engine S-38 Sikorsky amphibious aircraft into northeastern Brazil to study the Carnauba plant and the wax it produces for the company’s wax products. In 1998, Johnson’s son Sam and Sam’s sons Curt and Fisk recreated the historic flight in a replica of the Sikorsky aircraft, dubbed the Carnauba, which now hangs in the SC Johnson headquarters in Racine, Wisconsin.

Howard Hughes

(Anything called) Hughes

Howard Hughes formed the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) in 1953 after an illness and is credited for developing the modern medical bed. But of course Hughes is most known for his aircraft manufacturing, specifically the Hughes H-4 Hercules, commonly known as the Spruce Goose. Hughes Aircraft was actually a subsidiary of HHMI—some say to avoid taxes. When Hughes died in 1976 without a will, much of what Hughes had started went into litigation, but anything with the Hughes name comes from The Aviator himself.

Julie Walker

Julie Summers Walker

AOPA Senior Features Editor
AOPA Senior Features Editor Julie Summers Walker joined AOPA in 1998. She is a student pilot still working toward her solo.
Topics: Aviation Industry

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