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Bee Aircraft Company: Thomas Easton (1919-1993)

Thomas Easton (1919-1993)
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Not that many twenty year olds would have the audacity to start their own business. Bu that is exactly what Thomas Easton did when he co-founded and served as chief engineer for the Bee Aircraft Company in 1939, which produced low-cost airplanes.


The first model, the Bee A-17, was an all-metal, high-wing, two-place cabin monoplane intended to sell for $1,800. Although the company was listed in the Aero Digest Magazine's Digest of American Aircraft Companies, it never took off the ground due to the onset of WWII.

When World War II interrupted production, Easton went to work for the War Department as a fuselage experimental leadsman for the Curtiss-Wright Corporation, training employees on aircraft construction and tooling.

Easton was assigned the responsibility of coordinating complicated tooling problems According to Earl T. Klein (Assistant Superintendent of Production Planning, 03/10/1944), "Many of the problems resulted in engineering design changes as suggested by Mr. Eaton which resulted in more efficient manufacture of airplanes." Mr. Klein continued, "Mr. Easton has proven himself quite capable as a production difficulty coordinator. I have found him to be honest, conscientious, reliable, and very sincere in his work."

Mr. Easton was promoted to Corporal on 08/29/1945. On 05/20/46, he received an Honorable Discharge from the U.S. Army Air Force with the decorations and citations of Good Conduct Medal, American Theater Medal, and Victory Medal.

After the war, he made his way back to Iowa and founded Metal-Craft Models, a model airplane accessory manufacturing company in Centerville. Later, he worked for Fuller Manufacturing in Centerville where he designed tool equipment for the farming industry.

Plane design sketch by Tom Easton
Nancy Heineman of Grinnell accepted in honor of her father Thomas Easton
Thomas Easton co-founder of Bee Aircraft Company
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