Beyond the present world upheaval there is a greater fight for freedom that transcends the military might of dictators. It is the eternal struggle of all mankind to harness nature. The miracle of flight is but one example of battles won in this war for emancipation. The legions of science are poised at the threshold of even greater things involving forces so powerful that the human race dare not risk their possible use for destruction rather than creation. We must win this war in order to keep these forces in responsible hands.
There is vast creative satisfaction but little glory for the pioneers of thought who labor on the fringe of the unknown. Often there is martyrdom. The bacteriologists who have fallen victim to the diseases they conquered, the atom smashers who may some day find themselves within the sphere of some reaction they create, the aerodynamicist who must test new design theories under dangerous flight conditions to insure safety for others are no less heroic than the military leaders who fall in battle.
The aeronautical sciences have had their full share of martyrdom. Those of us who have followed the industry through the years have cultivated a protective shell against the shocks that come to us from time to time. But the inadequacy of this defensive mechanism becomes apparent when we learn of such losses as that of Edmund T Allen.
Eddie took no furloughs from the front lines of achievement. He was possessed of a rare gift for combining theory and practice in the most useful proportions. His work on cruising control in scheduled operations in collaboration with W Bailey Oswald (Aviation, Feb, 1934 - June, 1935) gave the first real meaning to air transport schedules and showed the way toward more efficient, reliable, and safer air travel. The development of this technique, which enabled the airlines to follow flight plans assuring on-time arrivals, contributed importantly to the unquestioned world supremacy of American air transport which was achieved during the thirties.
American military aviation would have achieved supremacy at the same time if the nation had heeded Eddie's warning. He was the first American observer to report on the rebirth of German Air Power following a European visit in 1935. His alarming discoveries were then presented in this publication in a series of three articles, Dec, Jan, and Feb, 1935-1936.
Another profound impression resulting from his European trip was a keen appreciation of the thoroughness of flight test procedure on new aircraft by the Germans. Up to that time we had been content to rush through this important phase of development quickly and iron out the remaining bugs in subsequent operations. Eddie resolved that he would find ways to improve our test procedure to the point where it would exceed that of the Germans in completeness and he set about the task. It was in this work that he was most recently engaged, and as a result the Wilbur Wright Lecture was added to his long list of honors. In accord with his customary practice, he desired that his latest works be reported in Aviation. And the first of his last three articles appears herewith.
The conquest of time and space and the progress of our present military efforts will be retarded by the loss of Eddie Allen. The work he has done is a cornerstone in air progress, and the able men of the organization he has built must carry on. Theirs is a rare heritage and a sharp challenge to do the job as he would have had them do it.
This obituary was originally published in the April, 1943, issue of Aviation magazine, vol 42, no 4, p 108.
The PDF of this article [ PDF, 2.7 MiB ] includes a photo of Mr Allen at the controls of a B-17.
The photo is not credited, but is almost certainly from Boeing.