John F. Geisse and Mary A. Geisse family
John F. Geisse Retail Career John & Mary Geisse John H. Geisse Aviation Pioneer Children of John & Mary Geisse   Geisse Home


John Harlin Geisse    John Harlin Geisse, aviation pioneer, 1950

        Aviation Pioneer

        John Harlin Geisse was born July 17, 1892 in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, the son of  Charles Francis. and Jennie H. Geisse.
        He received a B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Wisconsin in 1917.          He was elected to Pi Tau Sigma, the honorary  mechanical engineering fraternity.
        Prior to graduation, Geisse enlisted in the Army Signal Corps for flight training. 
        He was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant, Reserve Military Aviator, in 1918.

        John H. Geisse was married to Esther Wattawa Geisse and had two children: John F. Geisse and Nancy Geisse Falls.  John Harlin & Esther Geisse, July 17, 1986, his birthday
        Esther Wattawa's mother's maiden name was Walsh.

        Esther's uncle was U.S. Senator Thomas James Walsh, prosecutor in the Tea Pot Dome scandal.


        John H. Geisse newspaper clippings

               1935:  Geisse pilots plane across the USA August 12

               1935:  Geisse pilots plane across the USA August 29  John Harlin & Esther Geisse, 1984  John Harlin Geisse, July 17, 1986, his 94th birthday


                                JOHN H. GEISSE PAPERS
                                Scope & Content Note


        "The Papers of John H. Geisse contain correspondence, reports, drawings, descriptions,
blueprints, articles, speeches, patent data, and clippings and other printed materials
documenting his aviation activities.
        With a Mechanical Engineering degree from the University of Wisconsin, Geisse
enlisted in the Signal Corps of the Army for flight training in 1917.  He continued his active
life-time participation in aeronautical engineering at MIT; McCook Field, Dayton, Ohio;
Wright Aeronautical Corporation, Patterson, N.J.; Navy Aeronautical Engine Laboratory,
Philadelphia Navy Yard; and the Aeronautics Branch of the Department of Commerce.
        Some of the donor's aviation interests documented in these files are the Comet engine with
a novel type of cooling system, the small airport construction program, a way of building
flight simulators, and the crosswind landing gears to eliminate the necessity for multiple
runways for wind coverage.  This device saved the Federal Airport program millions of
dollars in construction costs.  Geisse contributed extensively to the aviation press and
promoted general aviation through the development of the equipment used by it.
                                Biographical Sketch
                John Harlin Geisse was born July 17, 1892 in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, the son of
        Charles F. and Jennie H. Geisse.  He received a B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering
        from the University of Wisconsin in 1917.  He was elected to Pi Tau Sigma, the honorary
        mechanical engineering fraternity.
                Prior to graduation, Geisse enlisted in the Army Signal Corps for flight training.
        He was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant, Reserve Military Aviator, in 1918.  In the same
        year he was selected to attend a post graduate course in aeronautical engineering at
        M.I.T. In 1919-20 he was assistant chief of the Power Plant Section, Engineering
        Division, McCook Field, Dayton, Ohio.
                In 1921-22 he was experimental engineer for the Wright Aeronautical
        Corporation, Patterson, N.J. and in 1922-29 he was chief engineer of the Navy
        Aeronautical Engine Laboratory, Philadelphia Navy Yard.
                In 1929 Geisse initiated the formation of the Comet Engine Corporation,
        Madison, Wisconsin by the Gisholt Machine Tool Company, Madison, and Air Investors,
        New York, to carry out a Navy contract for the construction of an engine incorporating
        a novel type of cooling system on which he held the patents.  The prototype was built
        and it passed the Navy acceptance tests but the company failed during the Depression.
                In 1933 he joined the Aeronautics Branch of the Department of Commerce
        where he initiated and organized a small airport construction program with the Civil
        Aeronautics Administration.  Many small airports for general aviation use were
        constructed throughout the United States.  He also wrote amendments to the Air
        Commerce Act of 1926 and secured their passage by Congress.  These authorized the
        Branch to promote general aviation by aiding in the development of the equipment
        used by it.
                While chief of its new development section he wrote performance specifications
        for an airplane which would be easier to fly than those then available and called for bids
        on the construction of a prototype.  Against both internal and external opposition,
        including charges that he was trying to force the industry back twenty five years, he
        awarded the contract for an airplane with a tricycle type undercarriage, type which had
        been abandoned many years earlier in favor of the tail wheel type.  Tests made in the
        Civil Pilot Training (CPT) Program with airplanes meeting this specification revealed
        that the time required to learn to fly them was substantially less than that required for
        the other CPT plane and the time required for a pilot certificate limited to flying this
        type was reduced from 35 to 25 hours.
                The winning plane was based at the Army's Bolling  Field  and its performance
        there so impressed the Chief of the Army Air Force, General Arnold, that he had a
        tricycle gear put on an airplane then on order.  Thereafter practically all Air Force
        procurement was shifted to the tricycle gear.  It was then adopted by the Navy and
        airlines and later by general aviation.
                While acting as a CAA consultant to a National Research Council on the
        selection and training of pilots, Geisse became convinced that the military abandonment
        of flight simulators for use in basic flight training was due to the inability of these
        simulators to simulate the kinesthetic cues.  At the time the consensus was that pilots
        should be taught to ignore rather than use these cues in instrument flying.  Authorities
        in this field now recognize that this was a mistake.
                Geisse then invented a patented way of building simulators capable of providing
        the proper kinesthetic cues and had a prototype built.  Designated representatives of
        both military air services inspected the unit and recommended it to their services.
        However, it was considered to be too late for World War II training.
                Later, when Assistant to the Administrator for General Aviation Development,
         and the Federal Airport Program was about to be started, Geisse initiated and
        directed an investigation of crosswind landing gears to determine whether or not
        their use could eliminate the need of building "windrows" type airports having
        multiple runways for wind coverage.  Gears were developed for five airplanes ranging
        from a small trainer to an airline transport.  All were successful and it was clearly
        demonstrated that multiple runways were unnecessary.  A cost analysis was made that
        showed that all of the airplanes then in service could be modified for crosswind
        operations at a fraction of the cost of providing crosswind runways.  The Administrator
        then adopted policy that no more federal funds would be made available for the
        construction of runways needed for wind coverage only.  This saved many millions
        of dollars in the Federal Airport Program.
                In 1950 Geisse was awarded the Department of Commerce Gold Medal for
        "outstanding contribution to the public service and the nation".
                After leaving government service he continued to work on crosswind landing
        gears and invented and patented an entirely new type which was much simpler, less
        costly and lighter than any then available.  Competitive tests by the Navy also showed
        that it provided a superior performance.  The new type was manufactured under license
        by the Beech and Cessna airplane companies for both civil and military use.
                Geisse contributed extensively to the aviation  press.  He wrote the aviation
        engine section of the Encyclopedia Britannica, was consulting editor for Esquire's
        "Plane Talk" and co-author of Technology, of the Department of Commerce
        "Post War Outlook for Private Flying".
                He was a member of the Army-Navy Club, the Aero Club of Washington, the
        Wings Club of New York, the National Aeronautics Association, the Institute of the
        Aeronautical Sciences, and the Society of Automotive Engineers.  He served one term
        each as chairman of the Washington sections of the latter two."

The family of John Harlin Geisse donated his private papers to the Hoover Institute.  Contents as listed here:

"Box                     Contents
                        Aero Club, 1948
                        "Aircraft Design as Related to Airport Standards" by Milton W. Arnold,
                        Airport Development, articles, 1944-54
                        Atlas Corporation, 1940-47
                        Aviation Bill, 1934-38
                        Aviation Publishing Corporation, 1928-39
                        B, General, 1945-48
                        Beech Aircraft Corporation, 1956-57
                        Blueprints, n/d
                        Briggs Manufacturing Company, 1938-40
                        Buffalo Gasolene Motor Company, 1927-28
                        CAA/Federal Aviation Agency, 1944-62
                        Cessna, 140-170-190, 1953-70
                        Champion Aircraft Corporation, 1958-60
                        Comet Engine Corporation
                                Articles, 1929
                                Correspondence, 1929-37
                                Formation, 1928-29
                                Navy Department, Bureau of Aeronautics Report, 1932
                        Commerce Department
                                Correspondence, 1937-45
                                Endorsements, Assistant Secretary, 1932-33
                                        A - I
                                        J - W
                                Gold Medal Award, 1950
                                        See Also:  Oversize Box
                        Consolidated--Convair, 1950-59
                        Corporation Trust Company, 1951-78
                        Cross Wind Landing Gears
                                Army Negotiations, 1957
                                Articles, 1950-59
                                Boeing 707's Undercarriage, n/d
                                Companies Interested (AOPA), 1951-54
                                Marine Corp Evaluation, 1956
                                Navy SNJ Adapter, 1953
                                Reports, 1948-81
                        D, General, 1940-55
                        Delta Engine
                                Correspondence, 1937-45
                                        A - G
                                        H - W
                                Calculations, n/d
                                Drawings and Descriptions, 1939, n/d
                                Report, n/d
                        Desloge-Robertson Agreements, 1952-56
                        Development of Low-Cost Planes, 1935-64
                        Doolittle, James H., 1952-56
                        Douglas Aircraft Company, 1947-60
                        E, General, 1950-78
                                Articles, n/d
                                Correspondence, 1976-83
                        Ercoupe, 1952
                                Correspondence, 1944-46
                                Plane Talk, 1946
                        F, General, 1928-82
                        Flight Simulators
                                Correspondence, 1953-73
                                Reports, 1968-69
                        "Flivver" Planes, 1934-45
                        Flying, 1952-82
                        G, General, 1944-54
                        Geisse Gears, Inc.
                                Advertisements, n/d
                                Assignment & Sale, 1952
                                Corporate Records, 1952-77
                                Photos, n/d
                        Geisse, John F. and Nancy, 1954-70, n/d
                        Geisse, John H.
                                Articles & Speeches
                                Autobiography, n/d
                                Biographical File, 1928-88
                                Personal, 1934-77
                        Geisse, Harold L., 1939-51
                        Ground Training Machines
                                Commerce Department, 1942-51
                                Justice Department, 1930-43
                                Lane Company, 1942-43
                        H, General, 1932-82
                        Hammond, Dean, 1947-68
                        Institute of Aeronautical Sciences, 1949-50
                        Invitations, 1936, n/d
                        J, General, 1980
                        K, General, 1938-83
                        Klemin, A., 1928-46
                        Kollsman Instrument Division, 1944-48
                        L, General, 1933-43
                        Lockheed Aircraft Corporation, 1939-60
                        Mc, General, 1937-81
                        McCarran, Pat, 1946-50
                        M, General, 1947-75
                        Martin, Glenn L. Co., 1944-50
                        Morey Airplane Co., 1951-54
                        N, General, 1947-77
                        National Airplane Rental Service, "Fly Yourself"
                                Clippings, 1945-46
                                Correspondence, 1946-47
                                Proposal, 1946-47
                                Reports, n/d (2 files)
                                Traffic Estimate, 1947-48
                        Navy Department
                                Bureau of Aeronautics
                                Judge Advocate General, 1929-31
                                Personnel Papers, 1951-52
                        New Years Cards, n/d
                        Nilakantan, P., 1950
                        P, General, 1948-82
                                Canada, 1950-52
                                France, 1950-58
                                Great Britain, 1948-52
                                United States
                        Patents Data, 1948-57
                        Patents Specifications, 1931-60
                        Photos, n/d
                        Post War Plans, 1942-45
                        Private Flying, 1934-45, n/d
                        Proxmire, William, 1976-81
                        R, General, 1940-82
                        Regulations, 1940-46
                        Roadable Airplane and Flying Automobile
                                Correspondence, 1944-48
                                Photos, n/d
                        Roosevelt, Franklin D., 1933
                        Roosevelt, G. Hall, 1934-40
                        S, General, 1946-60
                        Saturday Evening Post, 1938-50
                        Schildhauer, C.H., 1950-51
                        Scott Aviation Corporation, 1948
                        Senate Hearing, 1954
                        Skyways, 1954-59
                        Society of Automotive Engineers, certificate, 1944
                                See:  Oversize Box
                        Solomon, S.J., 1950-57
                        Spartan School of Aeronautics, 1943-45
                        Stanford University, 1940-44
                        Stearman-Hammond Aircraft
                                Correspondence, 1936-40
                                Photos, n/d
                                        See Also:  Oversize Box
                        T, General, 1943-55
                        Taylorcraft Corporation, 1941-50
                        Traffic Control, 1942
                        Van Dusen Aircraft Supplies, 1950-61
                        Vidal, Eugene L., 1933-69
                        W, General, 1944-82
                        Walker, Robert H., 1946
                        Walsh, Tom J., 1932-33, n/d
                        Williams, Samuel C., 1943-56
                        Wilson, Gill Rob, 1935-44
                        Wings, Inc., 1958-60
        7 (Oversize Box)
                        Airplane Over Washington, D.C., aerial photo, n/d
                        Beechcraft 25th Anniversary, booklet, 1957
                        Society of Automotive Engineers, certificate, 1944
                        Stearman-Hammond Aircraft, photo, n/d
                        U.S. Department of Commerce Award, 1950"







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