Born: United States of America
Primarily active in: United States of America
1894 - 1956
Lawrence D. "Larry" Bell, was born April 5, 1894. Mr. Bell, the founder of one of the most outstanding firms in the aviation industry, Bell Aircraft Corp., started in the aircraft industry at the age of 20 when he teamed up with the late Glenn L. Martin in California. At this period of his life, Mr. Bell helped to design and build an aircraft which was later sold as a bomber to the Mexican General Pancho Villa for use in his campaigns.
In 1929 Mr. Bell became affiliated with Consolidated Aircraft, remaining with that firm until 1935 when he resigned his position as Vice-President and General Manager and founded his own firm, Bell Aircraft Corporation. He remained President until September 18, 1956, when, due to illness, he was forced to step down from this position.
Mr. Bell's name became synonymous with important aviation developments during World War II when his company built some of the world's finest fighter planes such as the P-39 and P-63 series. Under Mr. Bell's leadership, his firm accomplished many aviation firsts, such as pioneering in supersonic high-altitude research aircraft with a series of high-speed test vehicles, such as the X-1, X-1A, X-1B, X-2, and X-5 aircraft.
His firm also built the world's first commercial helicopter which received its Civil Aeronautics Administration certification in March 1946. Mr. Bell always displayed implicit faith in the future of the helicopter and enjoyed greatly the thought that his machines rescued more than 18,000 wounded soldiers from the front lines fighting in Korea.
At the time of his death, his company was engaged in building the rocket-powered air-to-surface rocket guided missile GAM63. This missile, designed with a capability of carrying a nuclear warhead, again demonstrates the typical Bell leadership which has always kept his firm among the foremost in farsighted aviation developments.
Obituary (pg-20) : AHS Newsletter November 1956