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Merrill, A. Elliott (Albert), 1901-1992



  • Existence: 1901-1992

Biographical Note

A. Elliott Merrill (1901-1992) was a Seattle native, local aviation pioneer and accomplished Boeing test pilot. He graduated from the University of Washington College of Engineering in 1925 and learned to fly in 1926 as an Army Air Service, ROTC Cadet at Brooks Field, Texas. After his service and training in Texas, Merrill returned to Seattle and served as a reserve officer in the local 489th Bombardment Squadron at NAS Sand Point, Seattle, Washington.

In 1928, Merrill made the first landing and take off from what is now Boeing Field in Seattle and a year later, formed the Washington Aviation Co. Inc. (later called Washington Aircraft) with friend Omar Drury. The company was a general aviation service and provided student training, passenger flights and charter work. Many of the early women pilots in the area learned to fly from him, including his future wife, Mildred Filz, whom he married on September 30, 1936. Mildred and several of Merrill's other female student pilots formed the Associated Women Pilots of Boeing Field in 1933.

In 1941, Merrill went to work for Boeing as an experimental test pilot and flew 314’s, DB-7B’s, the XPBB-1, B-17’s, B-29’s, XC-97’s, B-50’s and B-47’s. He was the Chief Engineering Project Pilot on the B-29, B-50, C-97 and refueling tanker programs. On January 9, 1944, Merrill piloted the XC-97 from Seattle to Washington D.C. and set the transport-class transcontinental speed record of 6 hours and 3 minutes.

In 1946, he and fellow Boeing test pilot, Robert T. Lamson were awarded the Octave Chanute Award from the AIAA. The same year, Merrill was appointed the first Chairman of the Washington State Aeronautical Commission.

From 1952 to 1956, Merrill was Chief of Flight Test at Boeing-Wichita on the B-47 and B-52 programs. From 1956 to his retirement in 1966, he was the head of Boeing's military sales division.

He remained active in local aviation activities until his death in 1992, including serving as first Board Chairman of the Pacific Northwest Aviation Historical Foundation, which later became The Museum of Flight. A. Elliott Merrill died in April of 1992.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Biographical Information Files - M

Scope and Contents Individuals whose names begin with M: MacCready, Paul [Innovative aeronautical designer and engineer] "A Man for All Reasonings," California Magazine, November 1986"The Sky's the Limit," The Country Gentleman, Spring 1982"Masterful Tinkering of Genius," Insight, June 25, 1990"P.B. MacCready, 81, Inventor, Dies," New York Times, August 31, 2007 MacGilchrist, John...

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