William Bushnell Stout

William Bushnell Stout

William Bushnell Stout (16 March 1880 – 20 March 1956) was an executive at the Ford Motor Company.

Early years

William Bushnell Stout was born 16 March 1880 in Quincy, Illinois. He graduated from the Mechanic Arts High School, in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1898. He then attended Hamline University, and transferred in his second year to the University of Minnesota, being forced to quit due to extreme eye problems. He married Alma Raymond in 1906.

A career in technology

Stout was interested in mechanics, especially aeronautics, founding the Model Aero Club of Illinois. In 1907 he became Chief Engineer for the Schurmeir Motor Truck Company and in 1912, he became automobile and aviation editor for the "Chicago Tribune". In the same year he founded "Aerial Age", the first aviation magazine ever published in the United States.

Automotive career

In 1914 he became Chief Engineer of the Scripps-Booth Automobile Company. His "Cyclecar" had caught the attention of Alvan MacCauley who subsequently brought Stout to Packard Motors in Detroit. He had become General Sales Manager of the Packard Motor Car Company and in 1916, when they started an aviation division, they asked Stout to become its first Chief Engineer. In the 1920s he started the Stout Engineering Company complete with a research section and later built the Stout Scarab car (1932). The "beetle-like" Scarab featured an all-aluminum tubular airframe covered with aluminum skin, with the engine compartment at the rear, a sealed storage compartment in front of a passenger compartment with reclining aircraft-type seats. The front or nose of the vehicle contained the spare tire. Only nine Scarabs were ever built and although advanced, the public never appreciated the innovative features of the vehicles.

Aviation career

Stout's aviation career began as a result of his success in his automotive efforts. He began to build a number of all-metal aircraft designs, which, like the earliest aircraft designs of Andrei Tupolev in the Soviet Union, was based on the pioneering work of Hugo Junkers. In February 1923, newspapers carried stories of the test flights of the "Stout Air Sedan" with Walter Lees as the pilot. In 1924 his company, the Stout Metal Airplane Company, was bought by the Ford Motor Company.

Stout developed a thick wing monoplane and his design of an internally braced cantilevered wing improved the efficiency of aircraft. This led to the development of the famous "Batwing Plane" and the all metal "Torpedo Plane." After his career at Packard Motors, he left for Washington to serve as the advisor to the United States Aircraft Board.

In August 1925, Stout inaugurated Stout Air Services, which operated the first regularly scheduled airline in the United States. Stout also built the Liberty-powered all-metal monoplanes to initiate this service.

Later, between 1928-1932, Stout designed Ford Trimotors and flew passengers and Ford cargo between Dearborn, Chicago, and Cleveland. In 1929 Stout sold Stout Air Services to United Airlines.

After the Great Depression in 1929 reduced sales of the Trimotor aircraft, Stout left Ford in 1930. Although no longer with Ford, he continued to operate his Stout Engineering Laboratory.

Stout's other innovations included the "Skycar," an automobile/airplane hybrid; and a Pullman Railplane and Club Car. He is also known as the originator of prefab housing and the sliding car seat. All of these innovations were modem in design, incorporating many features new in both appearance and function, features not yet available in vehicle design.


Stout self-published a small booklet (15 pp.) of poems, circa 1936. Two of the poems were in the form of letters: "On Receiving Word that Stan Knauss Was Joining the Air Corps" (18 September 1918)" and "On Stan Becoming a Father" (4 December 1930)

His autobiography, "So Away I Went!", was published in 1951.

He is remembered for his Farberistic engineering creedo: SIMPLICATE AND ADD MORE LIGHTNESS.


He retired to Phoenix, Arizona and died on 20 March 1956, four days after his 76th birthday.

External links

* [http://blog.modernmechanix.com/2006/07/24/william-b-stout-and-his-wonderful-skycar/ Mechanix Illustrated Nov. 1943]

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