A brief History of Paul Kollsman


Kollsman, born in 22 February 1900, studied civil engineering in Stuttgart and Munich (Technische Universität München). In 1923 he emigrated from Germany to the United States. He worked as a truck driver until he found a position at Pioneer Instruments Co. in Brooklyn, New York. In 1928 he founded his own company, Kollsman Instruments Co., with $500 of seed money.

Mr. Kollsman had hundreds of patents to his credit, but the altimeter, which measures and registers the altitude of an aircraft and enables a pilot to fly ''blind,'' was considered his outstanding contribution to aviation science. In the view of some authorities, it was one of the milestones in the advance of piloted aircraft after the Wright Brothers' flight in 1903.

The Kollsman altimeter, which translated barometric pressure into feet, made its official debut at Mitchel Field, L.I., on 24 September 1929, when Lieut. Gen. James H. Doolittle, then an Army lieutenant, made a 15-mile flight guided only by instruments.

A re-enactment of the flight, with both General Doolittle and Mr. Kollsman at the scene, was carried out on 24 September 1979, at a small grassy airstrip near Boonton, N.J. By that time, ''blind'' flying was routine.

His instruments were later used in the NASA Apollo program. The altimeter setting window of the sensitive aircraft altimeter is named the "Kollsman window" after him.

In 1939, Kollsman, who was then residing in Greenwich, Connecticut, sold his company for more than $4,000,000

Kollsman died on 29 September 1982 in Los Angeles after a brief illness. He was 82 years old.

Krugersdorp Flying Club 20 10 2012

Aviation Personalities

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