Celebrating 100 Years of Oakland Technical High School
Ted Smith ’25
Ted R. Smith, Class of 1925, was an American aircraft designer. He worked for the Douglas Aircraft Company, Aero Design and Engineering Company, and Rockwell Standard Corporation. In 40 years, his designs included the Douglas A-26 Invader (under the direction of Ed Heinemann), and the first all metal small twin engine business aircraft for Aero Commander, a company that he helped to start.
The Aero Commander line included one of the first twin engined business jets, the Jet Commander. In the 1960s he designed and manufactured the Aerostar line, under his own name. The Aerostar was later built by Piper Aircraft, as the Piper Aerostar.
Arguably, no one has had as great an impact on general/business aviation as Ted Smith. Each aircraft design credited to his name helped set new standards for future designs. It is not widely known, but Mr. Smith designed, certified, and built the first all new small twin engine business aircraft, the Aero Commander. He then brought the first small business jet aircraft to market which was the Jet Commander now evolved into the Astra Jet. Mr. Smith, more designer than promoter, was know as the “quiet man”, letting his revolutionary aircraft designs, with their spectacular performance, speak for themselves.
After leaving the Rockwell Standard Corporation (manufacturer of the Jet Commander), Ted Smith, with 40 years of design, certification, and manufacturing experience to draw upon, went quietly about developing an entire family of aircraft that ranged from a single engine piston to a twin engine turbofan. With no turbofan powerplant available in the size range he required, Mr. Smith focused on the reciprocating powered aircraft and developed what many consider to be the world’s best handling, most responsive, business/personal aircraft of all time, the incomparable Aerostar. The Aerostar family of aircraft was the culmination of 40 years of T. R. Smith’s aviation experience and expertise. Before passing the baton to his existing Aerostar team he established the design concepts and supervised considerable engineering work on a light twin fanjet model should a suitable powerplant be developed.