Aero Flite Trailers
"America's Smartest Trailers"
Frederick C. Hoffman
While Aero Lines, Incorporated's founder J. Gordon Hussey knew the aircraft repair industry well, there is no evidence to suggest Hussey knew anything about designing or building a trailer. Hussey engaged the services of aircraft engineer and designer Frederick C. Hoffman (aka F. C. Hoffman) for that purpose.
Hoffman was a brilliant inventor, engineer, and designer, and possessed the ability to design complex mechanical devices that were both mechanically functional and also aesthetically pleasing. He demonstrated this ability when he applied for patents on two unique trailer designs in 1946. The United States Patent Office issued patent number 148,701 to Frederick C. Hoffman for his invention of a “new, original, and ornamental design” for a house trailer. This was the design that became the Aero Flite trailer. Hoffman listed his address as Los Angeles, California and his signature on the patent application appears to read “Frederick Hoffman, Jr.” At the time the patent was applied for, on December 20, 1946, Hoffman had already assigned the design to Aero Lines, of Van Nuys, California.
Hoffman was employed by Aero Services, the parent company of Aero Lines, Inc, builder of Aero Flite trailers, in 1945. Hoffman represented the company at the public unveiling of Aero Flite trailers in December 1945. He was later employed by Lockheed Aircraft, where he designed and patented sheet metal transforming devices for Lockheed Aircraft Corporation in 1949, 1951, and 1955. The designs were for devices used in the shaping of metal and were used in the manufacturing of aircraft. An industry publication of the era listed Hoffman as head of Lockheed’s sheet metal forming division later in the 1950’s. Hoffman made contributions to the engineering world and his articles were cited in many metal-forming publications. His written work entitled, Practical application of stress strain theory in fabrication of aircraft parts, which was published in 1943 when Hoffman was employed by Lockheed Aircraft Corporation, is able to be purchased today from the SAE, which in Hoffman’s day stood for the Society of Automobile Engineers.
Hoffman was also the designer of a trailer that became known as the Great Western, of which a small number were built in 1947 and 1948. The Great Western and Aero Flite designs share many similarities, however, each has its own unique features. Hoffman’s design for the Great Western included improved headroom in the rear of the trailer, compared to conventional designs, and an unusual sun deck on top of the trailer.
Considering the hundreds of trailer companies operating after World War II and the relative similarity of most of the trailers built, Hoffman’s design of the Great Western and the Aero Flite truly stand out from the crowd and reflect his genius as a designer.
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