National Air and Space Museum Archives

Donald A. Hall Interview

Collection ID:
Hall, Donald A.
bulk 1967
Physical Description:
0.23 Cubic feet
(1 box)

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
This collection consists of audio recordings and a transcript of an interview conducted by telephone with Donald A. Hall in 1967. The interviewer is Tom Leech who was working on behalf of the San Diego Section of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). During the interview, Hall discusses his career; working with Charles Augustus Lindbergh; the design of the Ryan NYP Spirit of St. Louis; reaction to Lindbergh's New York to Paris flight; Hall's involvement with AIAA; and his family. There is one copy of the recording on an audio cassette tape and one copy on a CD along with a transcript prepared by Tom Leech in 2003. The reverse side of the cassette tape is a recording of a speech by C. Northcote Parkinson to the General Dynamics Convair Management Club, circa 1968. The collection also contains a photocopy of the May 1967 issue of The AIAA Tabloid, the newsletter of the San Diego Section of AIAA, which features an article on Donald A. Hall.

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
Donald A. Hall was an engineer who is best known as the designer of the Ryan NYP Spirit of St. Louis. Hall was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1898. In 1917, Hall graduated from the Pratt Institute with a certificate in mechanical engineering. Hall worked for Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company beginning in 1919 before going to Douglas Aircraft in 1924. Hall later accepted the job of chief, and only full-time, engineer at Ryan Airlines where he started on January 31, 1927. A telegram arrived four days later asking if Ryan could build an airplane capable of flying nonstop from New York to Paris, France. Hall reviewed the request and replied affirmatively and on February 21, 1927, Charles Augustus Lindbergh arrived at Ryan to discuss the aircraft. After reviewing Hall's preliminary design work, a contract was finalized between Ryan and Lindbergh on February 25, 1927. The aircraft Hall designed, the Ryan NYP Spirit of St. Louis was built and ready for flight testing on April 28, 1927, a process that took place in under two weeks. On May 21, 1927, Lindbergh completed the first solo nonstop transatlantic flight in history flying in the Spirit of St. Louis. Later, Hall designed the Ryan X-1 Doodle Bug (Mahoney-Ryan Special). After Ryan relocated to St. Louis, Missouri, Hall stayed in San Diego, California and founded his own company, Hall Aeronautical Development Company. After the Great Depression hit, Hall was forced to close his company due to financial concerns and went to work for Consolidated in 1936. During his time with the company, Hall worked as a consultant to I. M. Laddon on the design of the Consolidated B-24 Liberator. In 1949, Hall went to work for the U.S. Navy at Naval Air Station North Island where he was an engineer before being promoted to head of the helicopter branch and later head of the structures branch before retiring in 1963. Donald A. Hall died in 1968.

Immediate Source of Acquisition
Thomas Leech, Gift, 2010

Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Access
No restrictions on access.
Preferred Citation
Donald A. Hall Interview, Accession 2010-0039, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution.
Conditions Governing Use
Material is subject to Smithsonian Terms of Use. Should you wish to use NASM material in any medium, please submit an Application for Permission to Reproduce NASM Material, available at Permissions Requests

Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Aeronautics Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Gateway Arch (Saint Louis, Mo.) Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Transcripts Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Audiocassettes Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Lindbergh, Charles A. (Charles Augustus), 1902-1974 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
National Air and Space Museum Archives
14390 Air & Space Museum Parkway
Chantilly, VA 20151