Colonel Edgar S. Gorrell (1891-1945) was a pilot and an advocate for aviation safety. He graduated from West Point in 1912 and then spent two years as an infantryman in Alaska before transferring to the Signal Corps, where he joined the 1st Aero Squadron, serving under Gen. John J. Pershing in Mexico. On one of his flying missions in Mexico, Gorrell ran out of gas and was stranded in the desert for several days before being rescued. Upon returning to his unit, he began to criticize the poor equipment US pilots were forced to use, both in terms of actual aircraft components and the signals and communication equipment used on land. In 1917 he was promoted to Captain, and in World War I he became the Chief Engineering Officer for the Air Service, and eventually the Chief of Staff for the Air Service, with the rank of Colonel. After the war, Gorrell remained in Europe representing the US at conferences and peace talks.
In March 1920, he resigned his commission in the Army and joined the automobile business. He served as the vice president of Marmon Motor Car Company until 1925. Then he became vice president, director, and general manager, and later president, of the Stutz Motor Car company of America. In January 1936, Gorrell again switched fields when he was elected the first president of the Air Transport Association of America, shortly after its conception. It was with this organization that he was known for his role in promoting safety in civil aeronautics. He was a strong advocate for the Civil Aeronautics Act of 1938 which provided government control and regulation of civil aeronautics, and he provided testimony before congressional committees several times. Gorrell continued to support civil aeronautics, especially through his role as president of the Air Transport Association of America, until his death, in 1945.