George Goddard

Enshrined 1976

Squabbling with the government in 1925, Goddard agreed with Billy Mitchell concerning the deliberate neglect of aviation. He spoke frankly to the New York Times, on the subject of a particular congressman: “we have not scratched the surface yet in aerial photographic developmentā€¦ Believe me, he is sadly misinformed, for every day very valuable developments are made at this Division which benefit aviation in general, both from a military and commercial standpoint.”

    In 1925, he made the first night aerial photographs.
    In the Philippines, he mapped unexplored areas and in 1934 directed aerial mapping of Alaska.
    At Wright Field, Ohio, he pioneered in stereoscopic, high altitude and color photography, and also developed the continuous film strip camera.
    During World War II, he promoted aerial reconnaissance and introduced the moving film magazine.
    Using his film strip cameras, he served as an Air Force consultant in detecting the Soviet missiles in Cuba in 1962.


Born in England, Goddard came to the U.S. in 1904 and attended Keuka Institute in New York, where he witnessed early flights by Glenn Curtiss. While an illustrator in Chicago, he saw an exhibition by aviatrix Ruth Law, which inspired him to learn to fly.

Enlisting in the aviation section in World War I, Goddard studied aerial photography at Cornell University, then organized aerial photographic units in Texas. After the war, he directed photographic research at McCook Field, Ohio, and earned his wings. As chief photographic officer, Goddard created the first aerial mapping units, directed photo coverage of the 1921 warship bombings, and made mosaic maps of many cities and land area. Returning to McCook Field, Goddard made the first night aerial photographs in 1925. On a trip to the Philippines, he mapped unexplored areas, and subsequently became Director of the photographic school at Chanute Field, Illinois. In 1934 Goddard directed aerial mapping in Alaska. As chief photographic officer at Wright Field, Ohio, he pioneered in stereoscopic, high altitude, and color photography and developed the film strip camera. During World War II, Goddard promoted aerial reconnaissance, aided the Navy in use of the strip camera and color photography, and introduced the moving film magazine.

After the war, he became chief of photographic research at the Wright Air Development Center. Goddard journeyed to the Pacific for the 1946 atomic bomb tests, and to Korea in 1950 to study air reconnaissance needs. After he retired as a Brigadier General in 1953, Goddard served as an Air Force consultant on detecting the Soviet missile sites in Cuba in 1962 by using his film strip camera.

George Goddard died in 1987.

For more information on George Goddard, you may want to visit these websites:

All Star Biography
National Air and Space Museum

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