Elisha N. Fales

What? New Members!

     Elisha N. Fales is one of those career men, except for one period of venture aside, but maybe he shouldn't be singled out for the majority of the EBs seem to have made a career of the air. Anyhow, he rushes off to Harvard, graduates, and then goes on to M.I.T. just to keep his hand in, specializing there in aeronautics and graduating in 1911. Oh yes---he comes to life December 23, 1887, at Lake Forest, Ill.
     Like other colleges then, M.I.T. has its aero club, and Fales is its 1909 president. Flights with the club's glider begin New Years Day, 1910 in Boston. On April 3 Fales and his partner F. W. Caldwell win the first prize; Sylvester Cup at the Waltham club's glider meet for the longest glide, 800 feet. The other competitors are A. A. Merrill, George Barrows, Merrill and James V. Martin are judges.
     By 1911 gliding at M.I.T. progressed to automobile towed flights. This time the glider, the club's third, resembles a Curtiss biplane, with monoplane front rudder, monoplane vertical and horizontal tail surfaces, and ailerons hinged to outer struts, all mounted on a 4-wheel chassis. The wheel and piller control apparently swings from side to side for lateral balance.
     From M.I.T. the air career is sidetracked. Doctor Fales goes with Stone & Webster, the Ironwood & Bessemer Rwy. & LIght Co., and the Chicago Department of Public Service through 1914.
     Next to a production job with the Curtiss company in 1915 and to a professorship at the University of Illinois, 1916.
     When Hi Bingham comes to Washington the spring of 1917 to establish the grounds schools Fales is on the job with him. The Langley Field project is developing about this time and Fales switches to the Equipment Division and designs the Langley wind tunnel. The following year he is in charge of the Washington branch of the Airplane Engineering Department of Engineering Division. More or less simultaneously he writes "Learning to Fly in the U. S. Army."
     He continues in the Air Service until 1927 as an engineer, when he resigns to go into private work. In 1928 he is consultant to the University of Michigan on rebuilding its wind tunnel. The next year he develops, builds and tests a controllable pitch propeller for a project of Shorty Schroeder. In 1930 he designs the 500 h.p. wind tunnel of the Aviation Corp.
     Skipping the intervening years---the biographic date being missing---he is back with the Air Force at Wright Field.
courtesy of Steve Remington - CollectAir

       Elisha N. Fales, 93, died of leukemia Tuesday, December 29, 1970 at the Good Samaritan Hospital in Baltimore. Born in Lake Forest, Illinois, Fales received his B.S. degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1911. He flew solo April 2, 1910.
     From 1916 to 1918 he was Professor of Mechanical Engineering for the University of Illinois and in 1918 began working for the Army Air Corps. In 1941 he moved to the Civil Aviation Administration. In 1957 he joined the Atlantic Research Corp., where he remained until his retirement in 1965.
     He leaves a son, David, of Towson, Md., a daughter, Grace L. Tranter, of Saskatchewan, and six grandchildren.
From The Early Birds of Aviation CHIRP, January, 1971, Number 77
BackNext Home