William 'Bill' Piper Sr.

William Thomas Piper Sr. was born on 8 January 1881 in a small town in the state of New York in the USA. He served in the Spanish-American War of 1898, before studying mechanical engineering at Harvard University. He co-founded the Dallas Oil Company, before serving with the US Army's engineer corps in World War I. After the war, Piper invested in the Taylor Brothers' Aircraft Corporation and during the Great Depression, he became the company's sole owner. Piper used the company to build and sell low-cost aircraft, including the Taylor Cub. Piper aggressively promoted the Cub and its succeeding variants, even including free flying lessons with each purchase. In 1937, he renamed the company 'Piper Aircraft Corporation.’ One year later, Piper introduced the J-3 Cub. With almost 20 000 examples built, it was the quintessential light aircraft of the 1940s. Piper continued to produce commercially successful aircraft, many of which remain popular to this day. For example, more than 32 000 Piper Cherokees have been built. The Cherokee, which is still in production, first flew in 1960. In 1968, William Piper retired as president of his company, whilst continuing to serve as chairman of the board. He died on 15 January 1970 at the age of 89. Piper was often called the 'Henry Ford of aviation,’ due to his ability to make aviation more accessible to the general public.