Donald H. Gordon was born in the summer of 1883 at New Britain, Conn. He started his career in aeronautics in 1907 at Bostonia, El Cajon, California, where he designed and built four aircraft and flew them all between 1909 and 1914 on his father's ranch at Bostonia, San Diego County, Calif. The vaguely worded dispatches in the daily press which undertook to describe the Wright Brother's efforts to produce a flying machine for the United States Army and description and drawings of the Aeronautical Society's Curtiss "June Bug', forerunner of the famous Curtiss pusher biplane, stimulated his imagination to a degree that he could not resist the temptation to assemble a miscellaneous assortment of bamboo and spruce sticks, piano wire and muslin at the Bostonia, California ranch and with the brief scientific information available at the time, to attempt the building of a glider.
By November, 1909, simple "coasting through the air" had become too tame for the young man, and in that month he purchased a 5 h.p. motorcycle engine from John Scripps of Miramar. His glider was quickly remodeled and the motor was installed and frequent short hops of only a few hundred feet followed. Altogether Donald Gordon designed, built and successfully flew four different power machines, but stopped flying in 1914.
"I'm sorry that I quit" Gordon said recently. "I had the same chance as Glenn Martin, Boeing, Douglas or any of those fellows who followed the Wright Brothers or Glenn H. Curtiss. I might have been a big plane manufacturer, if I had stuck with the game".
Aviation pioneer Donald H. Gordon, 84 year old bachelor, was found dead of natural causes at his ranch
at Palomar Mountain, California, June 10, 1968
He was born in the Summer of 1883 at New Britain, Connecticut. His career in aeronautics started in 1907 at Bostonia, California, where he designed and built four aircraft and flew them all between 1909 and 1914 on his father's ranch in San Diego County, California. The first of these was originally a glider, but by November 1909, simple coasting through the air had become too tame, and in that month he purchased a 5 h.p. motorcycle engine. The glider was quickly remodeled, the engine installed and frequent hops of a few hundred feet followed. Three other powered aircraft followed and were flown by Gordon, but in 1914 his flying was discontinued because of a hearing defect.
A panel of pictures showing Gordon and his planes is on exhibit in the Aerospace Museum in Balboa Park, San Diego, California.
When World War I came along, Gordon tried to enlist in the Aviation Section of the Signal Corps, U. S. Army, but was rejected because of his hearing.
Funeral services were held in the United Presbyterian Church, El Cajon, California, June 14, 1968. A brother, James Gordon of Honolulu, Hawaii survives.