Bellanca (fifth from left) with Cesare Sabelli (sixth from left) and Piero Bonelli (second from left)
1911
Giuseppe M. Bellanca Great airplane designer.


Giuseppe M. Bellanca (1886-1960), born in Sciacca, Sicily, was one of several brothers who emigrated to the United States and became famous. Frank and Agosto, two of his brothers, for example, became active in the American labor movement with Agosto a co-founder of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America. From the beginning, aviation was Giuseppe's interest, one in which he immersed himself as a youngster spending hours on Sicilian beaches scaling flat stones and watching birds fly. While studying science and engineering at technical schools in Milan he began to experiment with aircraft design and built his first plane in 1907 focusing on long distance flying. He came to live in Brooklyn, New York in 1911, and with the help of some cooks and waiters who bought shares, founded an aviation research laboratory. He also learned to fly and started a flying school on Long Island. Fiorello H. LaGuardia, who was the attorney for Bellanca's company, was one of his pupils. In 1922 Giuseppe won an aviation prize for building a five-seater monoplane. He followed this by building by hand the "Columbia" that had more crossings of the Atlantic Ocean than any other plane during the early period of flying. Two weeks after Charles Lindbergh's famous flight, the "Columbia" actually flew farther than the "Spirit of St. Louis," en route to Germany. In 1931 a Bellanca-designed plane became the first to fly non-stop across the Pacific Ocean. Well into his senior years Bellanca continued to design aircraft. It is estimated that between 1928 and 1954, Bellanca Aircraft produced approximately 3,000 aircraft of various types in Delaware. The Bellanca family donated thousands of artifacts, records, drawings, etc to the Smithsonian Institute in 1994. His deep interest in aeronautics, his industry and his genius significantly helped transform the field of aviation.






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