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Brigadier General USAF
Pioneer Inventor of Aerial and
Space Photography Systems
Born Turnbridge Wells, Kent, England
June 15, 1889
George William Goddard immigrated to the United States as a young man of 14. George Goddard joined the U.S. Air Service in 1917 and attended the first school in Aerial Photography at Cornell University.
This set the course of his career in which he rose to become the leading advocate and expert in this field of aero science. He received his pilot rating in the early 1920's.
As Chief Photographic Officer for the U.S. Army Air Corps, he pioneered in night photography with artificial illumination, light activated shutter, color photography, rapid film processing, high altitude reconnaissance, stereoscopic photography, and strip-film cameras. In the 1930's, he single-handedly carried out extensive photographic mapping of vast areas of the Philippines and Alaska. In the 1940-1945 period, he directed the design of reconnaissance aircraft and equipment without which World War II might have lasted far longer and cost untold additional lives.
George Goddard was the guiding light behind the development of long focal length aerial cameras. The improvement and size reduction of this equipment was the logical step to space photography. The direct outgrowth of his system of picture transmission from air to ground is seen in the magnificent photography from the Viking spacecraft on Mars. Through many years of perseverance, he succeeded in conquering bureaucracy and lack of funds and almost single-handedly advanced highly sophisticated aerial photographic and reconnaissance systems. The culmination of this effort was the timely detection of the 1962 missile buildup in Cuba.
The systems he pioneered and developed assist in maintaining world peace and in cataloging earth resources. They can be seen most dramatically in photos returned from the Moon, Mars, Jupiter, and beyond.
Invested 1976 in the International Aerospace Hall of Fame
From "These We Honor," The International Hall of Fame; The San Diego Aerospace Museum, San Diego, CA. 1984
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Updated: March 12, 2004