Aviation pioneer Whitney Forster.

Whitney Forster was a North American carriage maker who became the leader of the airmobile industry in the early twentieth century. Thomas Edison demonstrated the first working heavier-than-air flying machine in 1903, but after his death in that year his National Union corporation licensed the patent for the airmobile rather than attempt to develop the product itself. Forster formed a new company, Forster Airmobile Ltd., in 1904, with help from the National Financial Administration. Two years later he was producing small, reliable airmobiles for the general public, but neither he nor his competitors (such as Glenn Curtiss) were able to develop a market immediately.

In 1915, however Forster's reorganized company (Forster Aviation, Ltd.) won a government contract to deliver mail and introduced the "Falcon", the first airmobile to reach a wide market. The firm took a dominant position in commercial aviation, one it maintained for several decades.

Sobel's source for the early history of aviation is "The Eagle's Wings" by Carlos Snyder (New York, 1955).

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