Gildred Special Collection

Theodore E. Gildred with museum staff and volunteers during the construction of the aircraft that would taxi out the Ecuador II, c. 1978.

From March 13 to 31, 1931, Theodore Gildred engaged in a 4,200 mile flight from San Diego, CA, to Quito, Ecuador. The hazards of flying in a single-engine monoplane made the journey over South America and the Andes Mountains even more perilous. Fifty years later on March 13th, Theodore E. Gildred took off in his own single-engine aircraft, and, following his father’s flight path, he landed in Quito, Ecuador, on the same hour as his father. The San Diego Air & Space Museum’s Library & Archives is proud to house their collections and make them available online.

The Theodore Gildred Special Collection is an important collection that highlights the relationship between the United States and Ecuador through aviation. Theodore Gildred flew in a Wright Whirlwind Ryan B-5 single-engine aircraft (a successor of Lindbergh’s Ryan NYP Spirit of St. Louis airplane) named Ecuador. Following Gildred’s arrival in Quito, he donated his airplane to the Ecuadorian government where it flew as the first established, regulated airmail service for the country.

Theodore Edmonds Gildred, the son of Theodore Gildred, has his own special collection that has a significant connection to SDASM’s history. In the late 1970s, in preparation for the anniversary of the feat, the Gildred Foundation worked hand-in-hand with the San Diego Aero-Space Museum (as it was then called) to recreate Theodore Gildred’s historic 1931 flight in a single-engine aircraft named Ecuador II. The Ecuador II, a 1943 Stinson Reliant from SDASM’s collection, was used to commemorate the 50th anniversary of his father’s journey by making the same exact flight on the same day, March 13, 1981. After completing the successful commemorative journey to Ecuador, SDASM donated the aircraft to the people of Ecuador.

On September 7, 2010, both Theodore Gildred and Theodore E. Gildred were inducted into San Diego Air & Space Museum’s Hall of Fame. San Diego Air & Space Museum’s rotunda (today housing the Spirit of St. Louis and Apollo 9 Command Module) was named after Theodore Gildred.

Both Gildred collections are being made available online. They contain an array of papers and photographs that document the planning of the goodwill flight, its completion, and its commemoration. There are over 300 photographs in the collection that depict the history of the Museum, the Gildreds, and the aircraft they used, as well as important figures in Ecuador, and Theodore E. Gildred receiving honors for his actions. The Theodore E. Gildred Special Collection has several documents and photographs that intertwine with his father’s collection and is already available online. The Theodore Gildred Collection is currently being processed and will be up on the Museum’s website and the Archives’ Flickr page in the coming weeks.

For photos from the Theodore E. Gildred Special Collection, visit http://www.flickr.com/photos/sdasmarchives/sets/72157635243108549/.

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