Fairchild, Sherman

Fairchild, Sherman (Mills)

(1896–1971) inventor, businessman; born in Oneonta, N.Y. (son of George W. Fairchild). An heir to the IBM fortune, he invented a flash camera (1916) and an aerial camera for the U.S. War Department (1916). He started his own company in 1920 to manufacture the aerial camera; he also founded an aerial survey company and became known as the "father of aerial mapping photography." He also started an airplane factory and developed the first U.S. planes to have enclosed cockpits; he later designed the C-119 transport plane with its rear cargo doors. In 1953 he invented the Fairchild Flight Analyzer Camera, the first to take non-distorted pictures of an object in a continuous sequence of action. He invented a radio compass and introduced such innovations as wing flaps, hydraulic brakes, and retractable landing gear. Eventually his companies were grouped under Fairchild Industries (Farmington, N.Y.) and he remained chairman until his death.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.