Eduardo Carlos Escallon
OCTOBER 28, 1943 – SEPTEMBER 5, 2019
Published in Midwest Flyer – February/March 2020 issue
Midwest Flyer Magazine readers may remember the story published in 2017 about a Dutch couple who came to the United States to learn to fly, then bought a 1943 Aeronca L-3 Defender, and had it shipped back to Holland, arriving on September 21, 2017. The couple – Sharon Thiry and Huub van Iwaarden of Cadzand, Holland – learned to fly at Wild Aerobatics (www.wild-aerobatics.com) at Kokomo Municipal Airport, Kokomo, Indiana (KOKK). Sadly, van Iwaarden, 28, died unexpectedly on December 23, 2017 due to cardiac arrest while exercising. More recently, one of their flight instructors, Ed Escallon, 75, also died unexpectedly on September 5, 2019, shortly after arriving at a fly-in in South Carolina.
Eduardo (Ed) C. Escallon was born in Bogota, Colombia and lived in many places in both South America and North America, settling in Indiana in 1977.
A mechanical engineer by trade, Escallon worked for Boeing and NASA in the propulsion field where his work included jets, rockets, and finally electric propulsion and the deposition of small droplets and powders.
Escallon founded Terronics, which held more than two dozen patents, and implemented dramatic new technologies applying coatings to various materials.
Escallon’s second avocation was aviation, and he was a highly skilled pilot, flight instructor and aviation historian. He wrote three books on aviation, and was involved in helping to organize the first annual Sun ‘n Fun Fly-In in Lakeland, Fla., in 1975.
The first Sun ‘n Fun fly-in was held January 24-26, 1975, and was hosted by EAA Chapter 454 of Lakeland, Fla., and sponsored by the Southeastern EAA Sport Aviation Council (SESAC), with the Florida Sport Aviation Antique and Classic Association (FSAACA) pitching in as well. SESAC is a council of 58 EAA Chapters in the eight southeastern states from Virginia to Mississippi. FSAACA is affiliated with EAAs Antique-Classic Division.
Billy Henderson was the General Chairman, and Martin Jones was Co-Chairman. They were ably assisted by Bill Ehlen, Executive Director of SESAC, and Ed Escallon, President of FSAACA.
Also, in 1975, FSAACA, under the leadership of Escallon, retrieved the remains of the “Laird Super Solution” biplane racer from the Smithsonian and began its restoration. The aircraft’s designer and original test pilot, Matty Laird, himself, oversaw the project. The aircraft is now on display in the EAA Museum in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
The Laird Super Solution won the 1931 transcontinental Bendix Trophy Race with Jimmy Doolittle at the controls. Doolittle flew from Los Angeles, Calif. to Cleveland, Ohio at a record speed of 223 mph, and after refueling, sped on to Newark, N.J., clipping 1 hour and 8 minutes off Frank Hawks transcontinental record. Doolittles average speed for the 2450-mile coast-to-coast flight was 217 mph.
Escallon’s father, mother and brother were also pilots and his aunt was one of the first 27 women to fly military aircraft for the United States during World War II. Escallon only knew his aunt for a week before her tragic death in a mid-air collision, but she was an inspiration to him, nevertheless.
Sharon Thiry said this about her flight instructor: “Ed had a passion for aviation, inspired others by taking them for a ride in his Piper J-5 Cub Cruiser or his Fairchild PT-26. Among those who Ed inspired was his brother, Rob Escallon, who flew with United Airlines for 25 years.
“Ed lived an extraordinary life, which is seen in his accomplishments, and most importantly, through the relationships he enjoyed in both business and his personal life. He truly lived life to the fullest and showed many people around him that you should not just talk about doing, but rather do!”