Monday, May 15, 2017

The Grumman Story

The Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation was founded on January 2, 1930. When it opened, the company had no plant, no product, no customers, no contracts, and barely enough money to meet its modest payroll. Its genesis came from the sale of the Loening Aircraft Engineering Company’s manufacturing plant. The employees left from the sale decided to begin their own business. Roy Grumman was only twenty-five when he joined Loening. He took with him some of the key members of the Loening team including Leon A. Swirbul, William T. Schwendler, and Ed Poor.

They decided, in order to get immediate business, the new company would repair and rebuild Loening amphibian craft already in service. In order to make this happen, they planned to enlist about a dozen skilled mechanics from Loening. On December 5, 1929, the initial investors in the company signed a subscription agreement covering two classes of stock. They needed to find a space. Jake Swirbul found the first plant in Baldwin. In addition to the repair work, Grumman actively worked on a proposal for a small Navy contract to help keep the company afloat. Their main goal was to design and build an airplane for any military branch; preferably the Navy.

On February 26, 1930, Roy Grumman, Jake Swirbul, and members of the Navy’s Bureau of Aeronautics held their first discussion on a proposal for what was termed a High Performance Two-Seater Fighter. That plane became the XFF-1. Grumman moved to a new plant in Valley Stream in November, 1931 before settling into Farmingdale in November, 1932. By 1934, Grumman had become a major factor in the country’s aeronautical industry. By 1936, Grumman had outgrown the space in Farmingdale. The building in Farmingdale was old and vulnerable to termites. They finally decided on an irregular rectangle of 120 acres in Bethpage.

In 1960, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) awarded Grumman its first major aerospace contract, the development of the Orbiting Astronomical Observatory (OAO) series of spacecraft. Grumman was acquired by the Northrup Corporation in 1994


“Our Heritage” Heritage

Thruelsen, Richard. The Grumman Story. Praeger Publishers, 1976.