George Holloman, Aviation Pioneer
On March 19, 1946, George Holloman, a pioneer in the field of aeronautical engineering and unmanned flight, died in a plane crash.
The Northampton County native developed a keen interest in radio early on. After graduating high school, Holloman went to work with the Marconi Company, later the Radio Corporation of America, developing radio designs. He returned to North Carolina and enrolled at what is now N.C. State University, earning a degree in electrical engineering. At State, Holloman joined the ROTC program, and after graduation her received a commission as a second lieutenant in the Army and transferred to the Army Air Corps.
Holloman eventually became head of one of 11 Instrument and Navigation laboratories, overseeing the development of unmanned flight and automatic pilot and landing systems in that role. In 1937, he engineered and oversaw the first automatic landing of an airplane, flying in the machine as a passenger.
Four years later, with war clouds looming off in the distance, the Air Corps developed a new laboratory at Wright Field in Dayton, Ohio, called the Special Weapons Unit. Holloman was given command of the unit. At Special Weapons, he continued to oversee the development of automatic piloting systems, advanced bombsights and unmanned flying vehicles until his death.
Other related resources:
- Aviation-related exhibits at the N.C. Transportation Museum in Spencer
- Aviation in North Carolina and other aviation-related articles on NCpedia
- Centennial of Flight, a digital resource from the State Archives
- Turning Ideas Into Reality from the N.C. Museum of History / Tar Heel Junior Historian Association
For more about North Carolina’s history, arts and culture, visit Cultural Resources online. To receive these updates automatically each day, subscribe by email using the box on the right and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.