Thursday, May 11, 2017

Gilfillan Brothers and the first Ground Control Approach Radar

The World Book Encyclopedia.  Chicago:  Field Enterprises Educational Corporation, 1958.

In 1912, Sennet Gilfillan bought his uncle's Los Angeles smelting business.  Later that year, his younger brother Jay came on board, and the two formed the Gilfillan Brothers Smelting and Refining Company in 1914.  In 1915, the began making automotive products, introducing the use of Bakelite on the west coast.  In 1921, the name was shorted to Gilfillan Brothers, when the company entered the radio parts industries.  In 1942, they were selected to produce the first Ground Control Approach radar.  They produced a system by the following year, and it helped ensure the success of the Berlin Airlift, landing planes at the rate of one per minute.

Below, some amusing anecdotes by a Canadian who was involved with the early use of this system:

For more information about the adoption of this technology for civilian and commercial aircraft, read When Radar Came to Town.

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