Moss’s academic studies at the beginning of the 20th century would bring him and his turbo supercharger into the aviation field during World War I. In fact, even before the Wright Brothers made their first successful flight at Kitty Hawk, Moss had created, in embryo form, what is recognized as today’s modern jet engine.
- He joined General Electric after graduation and researched engines and turbines.
- During World War I he developed an engine turbo supercharger for warplanes to attain higher altitude.
- The successful turbo supercharger was used on planes that set world altitude records and for high altitude bombing tests on the battleship USS New Jersey.
- His work wasn’t fully appreciated until 1939 when the turbo supercharger was installed on the B-17, enabling it to reach 311 m.p.h. at 25,000 feet and set a nine hour, 14 minute transcontinental record.
- For the development of the turbo super charger, he and the Army Air Corps received the Collier Trophy.
- Following World War II, airliners used the turbo supercharger extensively.
Sanford Alexander Moss, an outstanding scientific pioneer of aviation, received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Engineering from the University of California. Later, at Cornell University, his doctorate studies resulted in his construction of a crude gas turbine engine, similar to a modern jet. After he joined the General Electric Company in 1903, his research on centrifugal air compressors enabled the company to become a world leader in this field.
During World War I, when the Allies sought a way for aircraft engines to develop more power at high altitudes, Moss developed an exhaust gas-driven turbo-supercharger and tested it on the ground at McCook Field. Later, he tested it atop Pike’s Peak, proves his invention enables an engine to produce the same horsepower at 14,000 feet as at sea level. But the war ended before the turbo-supercharger could prove itself in flight. Later, McCook’s test pilots used turbo-supercharged biplanes to set a series of world altitude records. Even Billy Mitchell utilized the ingenious device in successful high-altitude bombing tests on the old battleship USS New Jersey.
By the 1930s, Moss’s turbo-supercharger had entered wider use. In 1937, TWA, General Electric and the Army Air Corps equipped a Northrop Gamma with the device that enabled it to make an impressive cross-country flight, high above the weather, at 37,000 feet. With a distinguished career behind him, Moss retired in 1938. But when World War II started, Moss again took up his work and installed a turbo-supercharger on America’s revolutionary new B-17 bomber, which enabled it to achieve an astounding 311 miles per hour at 25,000 feet. Subsequently, another Flying Fortress set a transcontinental record of nine hours and 14 minutes high in the skies. For perfecting the turbo-supercharger, Dr. Moss and the Army Air Corps received the Collier Trophy in 1941. Later, the device was installed on other warplanes and provided high altitude superiority that helped to achieve victory through airpower.
After the war, it also helped to pressurize airliners and brought a new comfortable, above-the-weather service to air travel. Dr. Sanford Alexander Moss did, indeed, make outstanding contributions to aviation through his studies of gas turbine engines, and with his historic work in developing the aircraft turbo-supercharger that enabled man to reach the threshold of the stratosphere.
Dr. Sanford Moss died on November 10th, 1946