Edgar S. Gorrell
Col. Edgar S. Gorrell
from World War I, Aviation History
Born in Baltimore in 1891, "Nap" Gorrell (pronounced gor'rel) had graduated from the US. Military Academy in 1912, learned to fly at San Diego in 1915, and served with the 1st Aero Squadron during the Mexican expedition. After earning a master's degree in aeronautical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he had been assigned as intelligence officer in the Aeronautical Division in Washington, where he was when the United States entered the war. He had gone to Europe in June 1917 as a member of the aeronautical commission headed by Maj.R. C. Bolling. Afterwards he had been Chief of the Technical Section and later of the Strategical Section of the Air Service, AEF, and had served as Aviation Officer in G-3 at General Headquarters, AEF. Having been commissioned a second lieutenant upon graduation from the U.S. Military Academy, Gorrell had advanced rapidly, as many other aviation officers did during the war. Henry H. Arnold, for example, rose from captain to colonel in less than six weeks in 1917 and claimed that when he pinned on his eagles he was, at age 31, the youngest colonel in the Army. But Gorrell topped that when he became a colonel on 28 October 1918 at age 27. It was this bright, young colonel who became the chief historian of the Air Service, AEF, on 4 December 1918.

1st Aero Squadron
National Archives
The 16 officers of the 1st Aero Squadron pose before some of the unit's 77 enlisted men and eight aircraft at San Diego, Calif. in September 1914
Edgar Staley Gorrell and Herbert Arthur Dargue
standing by plane at Mexicant front, 1916

Library of Congress Collection, 9-17-07
1st Aero Squadron
In Pursuit of Pancho Villa
Taking part in Brig. Gen. John J. Pershing 1916 Mexican expedition was a learning experience for the U. S. Army's first air arm--
mainly in respect to its own deficiencies.
by Gary Glynn

The worried young pilot flew south, deeper into hostile territory, navigating by the stars. Below the fabric-covered wings of his Curtiss JN-3 "Jenny" darkness had already obscured the unfamiliar landscape of northern Mexico. Lieutenant Edgar S. Gorrell had never flown at night before, and his engine was overheating.
     The flight had been jinxed from the start. Pre-flight preparations consumed more time than expected, so the eight planes of the 1st Aero Squadron had not taken off until late in the afternoon on March 19, 1916. Not long after they flew south from Columbus, New Mexico, Lieutenant Walter G. Kilner had turned back with engine problems.
     Navigation errors contributed to the squadron's problems. Each plane carried a different type of compass, and the aviators were equipped with poor maps. Only one flier, Lieutenant Townsend F. Dodd, had ever made a night flight before.

1st Aero Squadron
1st Aero Squadron
1st Aero Squadron
Library of Congress Collection, 9-14-07


By Capt. Benjamin D. Foulois, Signal Corps, U.S. Army
Harold and many other Early Birds are mentioned in this story.
You can access it by clicking on:
First Aero Squadron

Two Aviators Were Lost
on Chihuahua Flight,

The Cordele Dispatch,
Wednesday, March 22, 1916,
Transcribed by Bob Davis - June, 2004
      Lieutenants Edgar S. Gorrell and Robert H. Willis, the aviators in the American army, who were lost in the desert in Chihuahua after they had departed from San Antonio to join General Pershing's force, were later reported to have been saved.

Made Record Flight in Mexico
in This Aeroplane

The Cordele Dispatch,
Wednesday, April 19, 1916
Transcribed by Bob Davis - June, 2004
      Lieutenant Edgar S. Gorrell and Herbert A. Dargue, now with General Pershing's troops in Mexico, made a record flight the other day when they went from San Antonio, into Chihuhua, to Columbus, N. M., a distance of more than 350 miles in less than four hours. They made a single stop, at Casa Grandes, where they heard reports that Villa had died of his wounds.
      Lieutenant Dargue said, "There seems to be no doubt that Villa was wounded; conversations with natives and with physicians having convinced me that he was shot through both legs and one of them being broken by a bullet, while another shot lodged in his stomach. A man in that condition without medical attention could scarcely live long.

Edgar was the first president of the Air Transport Association.
The Association presents an annual award in his name.
You can read this story by clicking on:
Edgar Gorrell

Edgar S. Gorrell
Edgar S. Gorrell - Mayor La Guardia - Edward J. Noble
New York Mayor attends National Aviation Forum. Washington, D.C., Feb. 21. New York Mayor Fiorello La Guardia in a speech today before the National Aviation Forum cautioned against 'log rolling' [...] congressional consideration of national defense[?] bases included in the federal airport program. LaGuardia is pictured here with Edgar S. Gorrell, left, president of the Air Transport Association, and Edward J. Noble, chairman of Civil Aeronautics Authority February 21, 1939
Library of Congress Collection, 11-9-10

Edgar S. Gorrell died in 1945
From The Early Birds of Aviation
Roster of Members, 1996

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