He was not a pilot, never owned an airplane, had absolutely no financial interest in any airline or aircraft manufacturer, and as far as is known he probably flew less than a dozen times in his entire life.
Yet to this tiny, bright-eyed and peppery man, aviation owes an incalculable debt, one that can be measured only by placing him where he belongs—on the Honor Roll of such giants as the Wrights, Curtis, Lindbergh, Doolittle and all the others who have been written into the pages of aviation history.
His name was Daniel Guggenheim, and if his name was not exactly a household word, conjuring up instant recognition, quick headlines and lengthy chapters in the saga of aviation progress, it should be pointed out that among those whose chapters were lengthy, he was indeed not only well-known but beloved and enormously appreciated.
Every airframe and aircraft engine builder knew him. Every airline president knew him. Charles Lindbergh knew him—and worshiped him. So did Jimmy Doolittle, Admiral Richard E. Byrd and countless other airmen who recognized that Daniel Guggenheim’s vision and faith stood behind every safe takeoff and landing.
Who was he?
Daniel Guggenheim was the second of eight sons raised by Meyer Guggenheim, a Philadelphia businessman and financier who halted Daniel’s formal education at age 17—sending him to take charge of the Swiss branch of a manufacturing and merchandising firm the father had organized. The boy was 28 when he came back to the United States in 1884 and went to work in another family enterprise—mining and smelting. Into this and subsequent business ventures he put what actually represented the philosophy of the airmen he was to serve: the technique of calculated risk which combined the instincts of a gambler with the cool, practical knowledge of the odds both against and for.
The result was the accumulation of a fortune, but Daniel Guggenheim also happened to be one of those men of great wealth whose ledgers included a column labeled social responsibility. Guggenheim’s long list of financial successes were accompanied by an equally long list of various philanthropic efforts—education, the arts, hospitals, medical research and numerous charities. That the list eventually included aviation came about almost accidentally. Guggenheim’s two sons, Robert and Harry, enlisted when the U.S. entered World War I, and it was Harry—the youngest—who heard the whir of wings and felt the mystical emotion of flight. Harry entered the war as a Navy lieutenant and became a pilot, serving in France, England and Italy until the Armistice. Like so many airmen of his time, Harry wore his wings in his heart as well as on his uniform—and like so many airmen of his time, he came home from the war to a country that seemed to have forgotten it was the birthplace of powered flight.
Aviation in postwar America was a technological stepchild—under-nourished, under-financed and cursed by almost incredible indifference and apathy on the part of both government and public alike. Pilots like Harry Guggenheim quickly learned that the nation which spawned Wilbur and Orville Wright had fallen far behind Europe in commercial aviation progress. They already had seen evidence of America’s aviation lethargy. U.S. industry had failed to put a single American-designed, American-made aircraft into actual combat; Yank fighter pilots, for example, flew French Spads and Nieuports, while observation crews used British DH-4’s. And even in commercial aviation, European progress made a mockery of the Wrights’ legacy. As far back as 1919, Britain and France were operating scheduled flights between London and Paris. Junkers of Germany were flying an all-metal transport with internally-braced wings and stressed skin ten years before William Stout talked Henry Ford into financing an all-metal airplane. The French air mail system dwarfed America’s in route structure and personnel.
In 1923, when the only U.S. airline operating a regular passenger service folded ignominiously—as had a predecessor ten years earlier—Britain was sending thirty scheduled flights daily across the Channel, in aircraft that featured upholstered chairs, bar service and champagne lunches served by jacketed stewards. As far back as 1913, Russia’s Igor Sikorsky had built a four-engine airliner with an enclosed cockpit and cabin, accommodations for two pilots and four passengers, electric lights and a washroom. Even in Italy, not a technologically-minded nation, an aeronautical engineer named Caproni had built a hundred-passenger flying boat powered by eight engines and grossing 30,000 pounds.
Compared to such achievements, postwar U.S. aviation wasn’t even in rompers; it was diaper-clad. What Harry Guggenheim, some three thousand fellow pilots and more than fifteen thousand skilled aviation mechanics came home to was a country that regarded aviation with either fond amusement or outright contempt.
The chief reason for all this backwardness and indifference was not lack of technical skill but attitude. To most Americans, the airplane was a toy that often approached the status of romantic fiction. It was something to be enjoyed vicariously—in pulp magazines recounting the make-believe exploits of the pursuit pilots, in movies like Wings (the first film to win an Academy Award, in 1926), in barnstorming appearances at county and state fairs. It was different in Europe, where the airplane was not just a plaything but a real instrument of war. Its power had been seen and felt, not merely read about. And when peace came, the transition from military to civil use was accepted as a logical, inevitable fact; in the U.S., the far-flung railroad network was king and the airplane a plaything.
A returning American pilot had two choices if he wanted to stay in aviation: barnstorm or fly the mail, and in either case he faced no prime labor market. At the height of the Post Office Department’s air mail service, its fleet consisted of less than 100 planes—no small number by the aeronautical standards of the day, but it was just about the only game in town and certainly not large enough to offer many employment chances for those wanting to get into civil aviation. Furthermore, the fleet was woefully obsolete, consisting mostly of DH-4s converted from their old military scouting configuration to mail planes. And another thing Harry Guggenheim realized with as much concern as interest was the low status of safety in U.S. civil aviation, inevitable in an atmosphere of pitifully inadequate research, starvation funding and non-existent support. Two statistics stood out sharply: of the first forty pilots hired by the Post Office Department in 1919, thirty-one had been killed in crashes by 1925. And during the less than ten years the government flew the mail, there were two hundred crashes and eighty airmen killed or seriously injured.
And when Harry Guggenheim decided to do something about it, he inadvertently turned to a man who had drawn most of his fortune from the earth and who would apply it to the skies.
In the spring of 1925, Harry attended a meeting called by Chancellor Elmer E. Brown of New York University. Young Guggenheim was invited because the subject to be discussed involved his known interest in aviation—namely, the possible establishment of a School of Aeronautics in the university’s College of Engineering, first proposed by Professor Alexander Klemm who at the time was teaching a handful of aeronautical courses offered by NYU. Also present were a couple of fliers, a platoon of public relations experts and Klemm himself. Harry listened carefully to the principal suggestion—a public campaign to raise $500,000 for creation of the school—and shook his head.
"A campaign would be futile,” he argued. “At present the American people aren’t much interested in aviation. They’re likely to fear their money would be wasted."
His rejection drew a request for a counter-proposal and Guggenheim, articulate and forceful, suggested that the best way to raise money was to seek out a single individual with sufficient vision to see the potential of an aviation school, and the financial resources to endow one. He went a step further; he offered to draft a letter for submission to a selected group of wealthy men, adding the condition that no members of his own family would be solicited. That same night, which he was spending at Hempstead House—the Long Island mansion of Daniel Guggenheim—he drafted a letter and decided to show it to his father in the belief that the elder Guggenheim would be a good judge of its effectiveness.
Daniel read what his son had written, then put the letter into the pocket of his dressing gown. “Let me think about this overnight,” he said.
Both father and son breakfasted together the next morning and Daniel wasted little time in delivering his verdict. “Well, Harry, I’ve thought about your letter and I’ve decided to endow the school myself.”
On October 23, 1925, Daniel Guggenheim himself turned up the symbolic spadeful of dirt that broke ground for construction of the nation’s first school of aeronautics at a major American college. To the some 400 faculty members, students and aviation pioneers gathered for the occasion, he added these words:
"As I am an old man whose active days are past, I shall dedicate the rest of my life, with the active aid of my son. Harry F. Guggenheim, to the study and promotion of the science of aeronautics. I shall do this as a part of my duty to my country, whose ample opportunities have ever been at my hand and whose bountiful blessings I have had the good fortune to enjoy."
That spadeful of earth was symbolic in more ways than one. Both Harry and his father were convinced that the Guggenheim School of Aeronautics was a small pool of water in a desert needing massive irrigation. More specifically, they realized that aviation’s future depended on the development of commercial passenger transportation—and that this development hinged on public acceptance of air travel as safe, practical and commercially viable.
The letter laid down these goals:
Harry went right to the top with the ambitious blueprints he and Daniel had formulated. Late in 1925, he met with President Coolidge and then-Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover in Washington and outlined their plan. On January 16, 1926, Daniel Guggenheim, in a letter to Hoover, announced the establishment of the Daniel Guggenheim Fund for the Promotion of Aeronautics—carrying an initial grant of $500,000 to which he later added $2 million and then a third contribution of $500,000.
- To promote aeronautical education both in institutions of learning and among the general public.
- To assist in the extension of fundamental aeronautical science.
- To assist in the development of commercial aircraft and aircraft equipment.
- To further the application of aircraft and business, industry and other economic and social activities of the nation.
The dramatic boldness of the Fund and its astute timing can best be emphasized by the perspective of its historical background. First, it came at a time when controversial, volatile General Billy Mitchell had reaped huge black headlines with his charges of U.S. aviation’s deficiencies—particularly Mitchell’s claim that American air power couldn’t lick a South American banana republic, or words to that effect. Second, it coincided with the birth of the airline industry itself.
The latter’s gestation period began February 2, 1925, with the passage of the Contract Air Mail Act. More familiarly known as the Kelly Act, after its chief sponsor. Rep. Clarence Kelly of Pennsylvania, the new law turned virtually the entire job of flying the mail over to private contractors who would bid for the various routes. Some five thousand applicants filed bids, only twelve of them winning acceptance; the first to start mail-carrying operations was the Ford Motor Company, on the Detroit-Cleveland and Detroit-Chicago routes, on February 15, 1926—only a month after the Guggenheim Fund was created.
It quickly became apparent to pipe-smoking Harry Guggenheim and his Fund associates that the Kelly Act promoted aviation in only one direction—mail service. The infant airlines, intent on feeding at the trough of mail subsidies, regarded passengers as a corporate after-thought; if passengers were carried, they rode in open cockpits, usually sitting on top of mail sacks with far higher priority. One airline actually raised its fares to discourage passenger traffic.
Guggenheim was named president of the Fund, and his original Board of Trustees bore a striking resemblance to a page right out of Who’s Who. They included Rear Admiral Hutchinson I. Cone as vice president, Assistant Secretary of War for Air F. Trubee Davidson, Senator Dwight W. Morrow, prominent attorney Elihu Root, Jr., and financier John D. Ryan. Later additions included Orville Wright, General George Goethals of Panama Canal fame, and two Nobel Prize winners for Physics—Dr. Robert A. Milikan and Professor Albert A. Michelson.
It was Harry and Admiral Cone who took the first steps to put the Fund into practical operation. Conceding the then-superior progress of European aviation, they went abroad to England, France, Germany, Holland and Spain, interviewing numerous aeronautical authorities and visiting the chief centers of aviation research and education. On the liner going home. Harry wrote a report on what they had seen and heard—ironically unaware that what he was putting down would someday be at least partially responsible for making the great ship on which they were traveling as obsolete as a dinosaur. Not all of their findings were complimentary to European aviation. They didn’t believe that aeronautical education was any further advanced than in the U.S., for example, and they noted that only a few laboratories were equipped for full-scale aeronautical research. Furthermore, engineers and pilots were having the same job-finding difficulties as their American counterparts.
But they also acknowledged, with more than passing interest, the progress of passenger-carrying operations in Europe plus a fascinating paradox: a fair-sized proportion of the air travelers were American tourists. Guggenheim deduced that Americans could be induced to fly in their own country if given safe, comfortable and reliable air transportation. The report’s concluding sentence was an indictment of American apathy.
"Europe today,” it declared, “is far ahead of the United States in the number of able men, both in and out of government service, who are devoting their lives to the solution of the problems confronting civil aviation."
Armed with this “catch up and surpass” incentive, the Fund launched an all-out drive in a number of high-priority categories: development of bad weather landing devices; setting up a passenger-carrying airline operation to demonstrate its safe efficiency; establishment of special schools or aeronautics departments in existing institutions; promotion of fundamental research in aircraft design and engineering; and long-range projects for increased safety as well as solution of more immediate, short-range problems. One by one, the Fund marched steadily toward these ambitious goals—each backed by the continuing support of Daniel Guggenheim and the driving energy and enthusiasm of Harry. To deal with fog and weather, the Fund set up the Daniel Guggenheim Committee on Aeronautical Meteorology—a project covering every aspect from fog dissipation and penetration to improved navigation and altitude instruments. Out of this endeavor came the famed Jimmy Doolittle test flights culminating in a takeoff and landing with a hooded cockpit, the aircraft being navigated solely by a new blind landing device that utilized radio beams. At the time, Doolittle was head of the Full Flight Laboratory, created by the Guggenheim Fund.
The Fund also spent upward of $150,000 in organizing a Safe Airplane Competition which attracted twenty-seven entries from three nations. Daniel Guggenheim himself came out frequently to watch the test flights—and through his 71-year-old eyes he saw a glimpse of the future.
"We must realize,” he said in a published statement, “that the air age is already here. Once realized, our provincialism will fall away from us. Universal flying will make all of us neighbors, and as sure as the steamboat and railroad are universal, the airplane will be."
Another Fund project involved bringing the message of aviation’s potential to the public. Harry conceived the idea of Fund-sponsored Air Tours, featuring famous fliers who traveled around the nation demonstrating the latest aircraft. Admiral Byrd and Floyd Bennett, fresh from their flight over the North Pole, conducted one Tour and a year later Lindbergh joined the “act”—the Lone Eagle was not only interested in the Fund but became one of its most fervent supporters. Lindbergh, in fact, was responsible for one of the Fund’s most spectacular achievements. While on the Tour, he noticed that pitifully few of the towns and cities he covered in flying over 48 states could be identified from the air. He suggested to Guggenheim that roof markings would be of great help to pilots on cross-country flights. Guggenheim, promotion as well as air-minded, loved the idea and talked the Departments of War, Navy, Commerce and the Post Office into cooperating. He also solicited support from major oil companies, railroads, businesses, civic groups and service clubs, plus the Ford Motor Company which enlisted the participation of its 7,600 dealers.
When the campaign began, fewer than two thousand communities had air markings. When it finished, there were more than 8,000 carrying rooftop identification. But down deep in his airman’s heart. Harry Guggenheim knew such efforts were pin-pricks when it came to realizing one of the Fund’s major goals; encouragement of passenger-carrying operations. Daniel himself was instrumental in prodding the Fund to do something about it. The old man was a frequent visitor to the Fund’s offices, discussing various projects with Harry, Admiral Cone and others. Largely self-educated, he did not pretend to understand technology, but all his life he had been a hard-driving businessman who did understand the importance of sticking to goals and getting the job done. He began to inquire, first casually and then persistently, as to what the Fund was doing to demonstrate the art of running a successful airline—and by that he meant one that could exist carrying passengers, not just mail.
It didn’t take long for him to convince Harry it was time to act and the younger Guggenheim, after lengthy discussions with his colleagues, invited all twelve original air mail contractors to meet with Fund officials on ways to increase passenger traffic.
Most of the early responses gave Harry a sobering indication of the difficulties ahead—they ranged from lukewarm to cold, several airline officials protesting that the trip would be too expensive. Guggenheim, in the epitome of ironic gestures, sent them railroad tickets so they could attend a meeting on the future of the airline industry. And at the meeting itself, the operators by and large rejected the idea of promoting passenger traffic. One by one, they told the somber-faced Fund officials that carrying the mail by air could not be profitable without government subsidy, and that passenger service without mail revenue would be an economic disaster. Others argued that if they carried people, accidents would be inevitable and these would adversely affect the air mail operations.
But while the Guggenheims listened pessimistically if politely to all this negativism, they also noted that the opposition was not unanimous. Two operators showed open interest: Walter Vamey, who flew the mail between Pasco, Washington, and Eiko, Nevada, and Harris “Pop” Hanshue, president of Western Air Express, operating the mail route between Los Angeles and Salt Lake City. It was Hanshue who impressed the Guggenheims the most. A dynamic ex-racing car driver who resembled Vince Lombardi in both appearance and personality, Hanshue had displayed more than casual interest. Furthermore, the Guggenheims were intrigued by the fact that his airline’s Los Angeles base had traffic-growth potential—not to the Salt Lake City terminus of the mail route, but northward to the other great West Coast metropolis: San Francisco. And there was no air service between those two great and expanding cities.
Of all the grants and loans the Fund was to make throughout the nation’s aviation and educational systems, none carried the historical importance of what Western Air Express received before 1927 was over. For the Guggenheims and Pop Hanshue shared a mutual conviction: the airlines could not progress if almost totally dependent on mail pay. And accompanying that mutual conviction was a mutual belief: The future of commercial aviation lay in the development of passenger traffic. The Fund’s offer to WAE was simple but vital in its long-range consequences. Guggenheim would lend the airline $180,000 to launch a “Model Airway” between Los Angeles and San Francisco, the money to be used for the purchase of the most modern, suitable passenger-carrying aircraft. The only stipulation was that the planes could haul only passengers, which wasn’t much of a stipulation inasmuch as Western couldn’t fly mail over a route for which it had no contract.
Nevertheless, in a financial sense this was akin to telling the airline it had to fly the airplanes without fuel—the whole arrangement was an aeronautical experiment to determine if an all-passenger operation was not only technically possible but commercially feasible. The critics, cynics, doubters and scoffers were unanimous: it couldn’t be done. There were no strings attached to the loan, mainly because the Guggenheims themselves didn’t expect to be paid back and Harry frankly told Hanshue the $180,000 was more in the nature of an outright grant. The fiercely-independent Hanshue refused to accept the money as a gift and insisted on inserting into the official agreement a clause requiring that the loan be repaid within eighteen months, at five percent interest per annum. Hanshue also put up some $100,000 in public utilities securities as a loan guarantee. But Western did accept Harry’s offer to provide a $60,000 grant for purchase of ground facilities.
The Guggenheims accepted Hanshue’s provisions, still expecting WAE to default; it didn’t, and was to repay the $180,000 before the end of 1929. Selection of the three aircraft to be used on the Model Airway was largely the airline’s responsibility, but Hanshue made his decision after considerable input from such outside experts as Lindbergh, C. S. “Casey” Jones and Harry Guggenheim himself. The choice narrowed down to three: (1) two designs offered by Douglas, a twin-engine airliner and a trimotor; (2) Ford’s new all-metal trimotor, and (3) the Fokker F-10, designed and built by Anthony Fokker of the Netherlands. The Fokker was the winner, despite the fact that its $50,000 price tag per airplane was the highest. The Douglas designs were still in the blueprint stage and their proposed specification fell short of what WAE needed. The Ford lost out to Fokker largely because the Dutch airliner was, at that stage, a more proven aircraft with a 2,500-pound greater payload, 20 miles-per-hour more cruising speed, a higher service ceiling and better two-engine performance—all due, admittedly, to its lighter and less powerful wooden structure.
The whole purpose of the Model Airway was to convince the public that air travel could be comfortable, fast, safe and reliable, and Hanshue pledged to the Fund that the airline would cut no corners. The cabins of Western’s Fokkers were furnished in mahogany and light pile fabric, far plusher than the early Fords. There were cabin dome lights for reading, overhead baggage racks, a wide aisle with six feet of headroom from floor to ceiling, and thickly upholstered seats with full armrests and ashtrays.
Even the food on the Model Airway was a vast improvement over the traditional cold chicken that most airlines served when they did condescend to carry passengers. Western furnished thick, succulent sandwiches catered by the “Pig ‘n Whistle,” a well-known Los Angeles restaurant, along with hot coffee. The customers also got an elaborate booklet to take home as a souvenir if desired. This forerunner of today’s in-flight magazine was titled The Log of My Flight Between Los Angeles and San Francisco Via Western Air Express but this verbosity did nothing to detract from the booklet’s excellent quality—it was handsomely bound in birchwood parchment and included space for entering statistical data on the flight, a history of California, a detailed map of the route, aerial views of each terminal city, information on the F-10 and the airline, and a few aviation facts and figures aimed at impressing the traveler with aerial progress.
The crowning touch was the hiring of stewards, the first cabin attendants in the U.S. With a little more foresight and a little less chauvinism, the Model Airway also could have been responsible for employing the U.S. airline industry’s first stewardesses, but nobody thought of this gimmick at the time (some pilots actually objected to carrying women passengers!) and not for another two years would women serve as flight attendants.
The $60,000 the Fund provided for ground facilities went largely for attractive terminals in the two cities, but $2,000 was spent on a new Cadillac which was leased to a young driver who provided free transportation to and from the Los Angeles airport for Model Airway passengers. A second car was based at the Oakland airport, the northern terminus. But Hanshue knew, and the Guggenheims were in full agreement, that such gimmicks as stewards, free daily newspapers, tasty food and limousines could not by themselves attract a large volume of traffic. The highest priority was safety—one crash and all the amenities would be forgotten in an epidemic of fear.
May 26, 1928, was the Model Airway’s inaugural day, and the interested spectators included far more than the passengers who paid fifty dollars apiece for the one-way, three-hour flight (a railroad trip took more than thirteen hours), or the throngs of curious who crowded both airports. The airline chieftains of 1928 formed a brotherhood of buccaneers whose common bond was adversity, but with fragile loyalties that lasted only until the next raid into another man’s domain. It was a loosely-regulated industry at best, the limited number of government mail contracts being the only federal club held over their heads. In this permissive atmosphere, territorial invasion was natural strategy, merger a frequently-used device, backroom deals a way of life. Because only the air mail routes were inviolate jurisdictions, development of all-passenger markets beckoned every entrepreneur owning more than one airplane.
And against this backdrop, the Western/Guggenheim Model Airway was nothing but a 365-mile test tube. If one takes a short-range view, the experiment was only partially successful. But its long-range consequences were enormous, for although the Model Airway flew in red ink, its technical accomplishments literally revolutionized the industry because it not only sold air travel to the public but showed every carrier that passenger traffic had tremendous potential. The Fund’s contributions went beyond the underwriting of the aircraft and ground services. Thanks to the Guggenheims’ support, the Model Airway utilized the most extensive weather reporting system ever devised for a commercial air operation. A Guggenheim-financed weather service was installed at either end of the airway, with the cooperation of the Weather Bureau, Commerce Department and the Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Company.
Weather data was fed to both Los Angeles and Oakland, and provided to Western’s pilots before takeoff. Supplementing these initial forecasts was a system of visual ground signals—canvas strips laid flat on the ground in various coded combinations. The visual reporting station at Bakersfield, for example, was of great help to southbound pilots who didn’t always know what to expect in the fast-changing Los Angeles area. Later this primitive weather communicating means led to the development of two-way radios.
The visual stations were reporting weather conditions covering forty miles on each side of the route flown. And the end result was the Model Airway’s almost incredible on-time performance of 99 percent, with a perfect safety record. True, the Airway operated at a slight loss—Hanshue repaid the loan from his mail revenue profits—yet public response was good. Some five thousand passengers flew the Model Airway in its first full year and no one to this day has been able to judge its financial results with any degree of accuracy.
For actually, the Model Airway never really ended; rather, it was absorbed gradually into Western’s normal operations with the valuable lessons learned and experience gained being incorporated into the airline’s regular procedures and policies. In a technical sense, the experiment was over the day Hanshue repaid the loan. The most pertinent appraisal of the Model Airway came from the Oakland Post-Enquirer’s aviation editor, Howard Waldorf, who covered the takeoff of the first northbound flight and later wrote this recollection of May 26:
"To me, the outstanding picture of the event was seeing the pilot go on board with a weather report and forecast in his hand. It was truly the launching of a new era in air transportation."
As far as the Guggenheims were concerned, Waldorf had enunciated the bottom line. In effect, the Model Airway took the U.S. airline industry out of rompers and put it into long trousers; it had fallen short of proving that an airline of 1928 could exist solely on passenger revenues, but it had planted the seeds for the future simply by demonstrating superb technical proficiency. In weather research alone, the Guggenheim/Western Air Express project had proved its worth—the achievement of a perfect safety record was made possible largely by the weather service, which cost the Fund a modest $27,500 for one year’s operation.
While Pop Hanshue’s airline ran the Model Airway, the Fund kept busy on other high-priority projects—education and research being two key areas. The Daniel Guggenheim School of Aeronautics at New York University became an important center for research as well as education, and this was followed by establishment of additional facilities. A Fund grant created the Daniel Guggenheim Graduate School of Aeronautics at the California Institute of Technology, along with an associate facility—the Guggenheim Aeronautical Laboratories. To help set up the School and laboratory, the Fund brought to the U.S. Dr. Theodore von Karman, one of the world’s most outstanding aeronautical scientists. Von Karman not only aided in establishing the C.I.T. units but lectured throughout the country to other centers of aviation education. Until his death in 1963, von Karman remained a towering figure in the flight sciences.
Under Harry Guggenheim’s astute direction of the Fund, the grants rolled out like marching orders . . .
—$195,000 to establish the Daniel Guggenheim Aeronautic Laboratory at
Stanford University, with emphasis on propeller and other aeronautical research.
—$78,000 to the University of Michigan to establish the Daniel Guggenheim Professorship of Applied Aeronautics, a sum that made it possible for the school to complete its aviation laboratory.
—$230,000 to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for construction of the Daniel Guggenheim Aeronautical Laboratory at MIT; a second grant of $34,000 established a graduate course in meteorology and a new meteorological research group.
—$250,000 to the University of Akron for establishment of the Daniel Guggenheim Airship Institute at Akron, Ohio, for a program of research into the aerodynamics, construction and development of lighter-than-air craft.
—$290,000 to the University of Washington for a new building housing the Guggenheim Hall of Aeronautics and establishment of a curriculum in aeronautical engineering.
—$300,000 to the Georgia School of Technology for the south’s first aeronautical, engineering and research institute.
—$41,000 for various weather research projects, ranging from fog penetration to a study of North Atlantic weather.
—$15,000 to the Harvard School of Business Administration for a study of commercial aviation’s economic and industrial aspects. (The first Research Fellow appointed under this grant was Herbert Hoover, Jr., son of the president.)
—$60,000 to Syracuse University to establish a center for aerial photographic mapping and surveying.
—$10,000 to the Northwestern University School of Law to help create an Air Law Institute.
—$140,000 to the Library of Congress to endow a Chair of Aeronautics and stimulate the acquisition of historical aviation material.
This was just a partial list, for Daniel Guggenheim’s contributions to aviation science soared far beyond the Fund itself. The latter was liquidated February 1, 1930—in the 74th and final year of Daniel’s life. It had been in existence for slightly over four years and Harry best summed up its accomplishments in his final report:
"In the past four years, the public attitude toward aviation has changed from apathetic indifference to enthusiastic support. Not only is there a sound economic basis for aviation so it is now financially able to take care of itself, but also there have been established in different geographical sections of this country aeronautical engineering and research centers which are second to none in the world."
"With commercial aircraft companies assured of public support and aeronautical science equally assured of continued research, the further development of aviation in this country can best be fulfilled in the typically American manner of private business enterprise. The work of the Fund now passes into other hands."
The closing of the Daniel Guggenheim Fund for Promotion of Aeronautics did not mark the end of interest in aviation by the man whose name the Fund bore. To his dying day, he continued to support, without fanfare or publicity, projects brought to his attention by Harry and others whose opinions he respected. It was Harry and Lindbergh, for example, who told the old man about an obscure professor of physics at dark University in Worcester, Massachusetts. Daniel agreed to finance the professor’s research for two years at $25,000 a year. And thus did the name of Guggenheim become linked with that of Dr. Robert H. Goddard, whose work in rocket propulsion laid the foundations for the space age.
Daniel Guggenheim died September 18, 1930, and the monuments to aviation progress erected during his lifetime were joined by others after his death. His widow Florence eventually donated the 162-acre estate and magnificent home at Sands Point, New York, to the Institute of Aeronautical Sciences, now known as the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. The family also established the Daniel and Florence Guggenheim Foundation, with Harry serving as its first president, and most of the projects originally begun with Foundation support are still in existence. These included the Daniel and Florence Guggenheim Jet Propulsion Center at C.I.T., the Daniel and Florence Guggenheim Laboratories for the Aerospace Propulsion Sciences at Princeton, the Daniel and Florence Guggenheim Institute of Flight Structures at Columbia, the Harvard-Guggenheim Center for Aviation Health and Safety, and the Daniel and Florence Guggenheim Aviation Safety Center at Cornell.
All these and others are part of the legacy bequeathed by this magnificent little man, so small in stature but so immense in foresight and faith. Born almost five decades before the Wrights wrought their miracle at Kitty Hawk, he somehow shared their vision. He was no airman, no aeronautical engineer, no scientist nor airline tycoon, yet no man in any of these categories contributed more to aviation progress at a time when cynicism and doubt polluted the figurative skies. And in the end, it was his air-minded son, Harry Guggenheim, who made sure his father’s name would stand as an everlasting symbol of unselfish devotion to aeronautical science—In the form of the Daniel Guggenheim Medal.