WWI pursuit pilot and escaped POW Theose Tillinghast was one of the few Allied flying officers to escape from enemy hands during World War I. A Providence native, he attended Providence Technical High School before graduating from RI State College with a degree in Mechanical Engineering.
Tillinghast joined Pratt and Whitney Aircraft when he resigned from the Air Corps in 1929. In 1934, he became sales manager for the company. In 1942 he was named President of United Aircraft Service Corporation – a position he held until his retirement in 1958.
Two months before his retirement, he received the William E. Mitchell Award for his “most outstanding individual contribution to aviation progress”. As the program of April 9, 1958 noted:
“He has ‘followed the engines’, instructing, advising and consulting wherever the air routes led into remote parts of the world.
He went to Hawaii with the Navy’s first complement of aircraft carriers, the Lexington and the Saratoga. He worked closely with Pan American when they began trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific service. He became personal friend and advisor to virtually all the men who head the commercial airlines today. He consulted personally with General James Doolittle and General Carl Spaatz in Europe during World War II.
Mr. Tillinghast has built not only a world-wide service and field engineering organizations, but a personal reputation for integrity in all problems related to the reliability, durability and economy of aircraft engines, including the revolutionary change-over to jets.”
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