The Unsung Hero: Donald A. Hall Sr. – Chief Engineer of the Spirit of St. Louis

Video playlist, including the lost film footage of Donald A. Hall Sr.:

“The truth will come out, eventually.”  Donald Albert Hall, Sr., designer of the Spirit of St. Louis

Donald A. Hall Sr. was the chief engineer of the Spirit of St. Louis airplane, which was flown by Charles Lindbergh on the first non-stop flight across the Atlantic. Hall’s career in aeronautical engineering included work with Curtiss Aeroplane & Motor Corp., the Douglas Company, and Ryan Airlines, Inc. His technical expertise and innovative designs helped shape the early days of aviation, and his legacy continues to inspire those interested in the history of flight.

Donald A. Hall, Sr. Career Highlights

Born December 7th, 1898 – Brooklyn, New York
Graduated from Pratt Institute – Industrial Mechanical Engineering, (1917-1919)
US Army (S.A.T.C.) – Student Army Training Corps:  Rank – Private, conscript w/ Honorable discharge (1918)
First Job: Curtiss Aeroplane & Motor Corp. –  Designer, checker, Junior draftsman, (1919-21)
Elias & Bros – Acting Chief Engineer, Aerodynamic design, (1921-22)
Award: Designed night bombardment airplane – Won prize in competition at Dayton, OH, (1922)
The Douglas Company – Aerodynamics Engineer (w/ Jack Northrop) with DWC flight project, returned after flight school (1924-26)
Contract Job: Ford Motor Company (Airplane Division) – Airplane designer on Ford tri-motor projects, (1926)
US Army Air Corps (Brooks Field, Texas) – Rank: Flying Cadet, (1926)
Ryan Airlines, Inc. – Chief engineer & Parts inspector. Photographer. (1927-28)
Award: Designed the Spirit of St. Louis for Charles A. Lindbergh, WINNER of the Orteig prize – First non-stop flight across the Atlantic from Garden City’s Roosevelt Field, to Le Bourget, Paris, France with nearly 60+ gallons of fuel remaining.  (1927)
Author: National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) Technical Note #257, “Technical Preparation of the Spirit of St. Louis,” (1927)
Hall Aeronautical Development Co. – President and chief engineer, Hall X-1 “Aft-Wing” development w/ patents, (1929-1936)
Consolidated Vultee Aircraft/Convair – Aerodynamics and pre-design engineer, Patent director, (1936-1949)
Award: Associate Fellow – American Institute of Aeronautics & Astronautics (AIAA), (1937-1968)
Prepared Technical Appendix in Charles A. Lindbergh’s Pulitzer prize winning book: The Spirit of St. Louis, (1953)
Naval Air Station (North Island) – Head supervisor: Helicopter Engineering branch, 1949-1963
Died, May 2nd, 1968 – San Diego, California

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