The San Diego Air & Space Museum is mourning the loss of Ted Gildred Jr., who passed away on January 3, 2019 at the age of 83.
The Gildred’s could be considered a “First Family of Flight,” and sought to better international relations while doing what they loved, flying. Starting with Theodore Gildred’s flight to South America in 1931, their legacy of groundbreaking flights coupled with goodwill was passed on through the generations. Theodore Gildred Sr. was born in 1900 in Rochester, New York. He grew up and was educated in Argentina and Ecuador before attending New York University, where he graduated in 1918 as a civil engineer. He learned to fly in 1925 at Dutch Flats, in San Diego. Later, inspired by Charles Lindbergh’s epic 1927 flight, Theodore Gildred, Sr. took off from San Diego on March 13, 1931, in a locally built Ryan B-5 Brougham, beginning a 19-day, 4200-mile goodwill flight to South America. He was greeted by 15,000 spectators in Quito, Ecuador. After his historic flight, he donated his aircraft “Ecuador” to the people of Ecuador as a goodwill gesture to encourage growth of aviation in that country. Returning to San Diego he married Maxine Edmonds, and, in 1934, relocated to Mexico City with his family, where he would lead a very successful life as an entrepreneur and philanthropist. Ted Gildred Sr. died in June 1967, in San Diego. Prior to his death, he established the Gildred Foundation in San Diego, which has made major contributions to medical research through the Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation, Salk Institute, and University of California at San Diego.
Exactly 50 years after his historic 1931 flight, Gildred’s son, Theodore Gildred Jr., recreated his father’s famous flight, flying a 1943 Stinson Reliant. After successful completion of the 1981 commemorative flight, the Reliant was donated to the people of Ecuador to help them establish their own aviation museum. In 2006, Gildred Jr. and his sons Ted III and Stephen flew “Ecuador III - The Spirit of Goodwill” to Ecuador to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the original flight. Ted Jr. was dedicated to helping the people of South America develop a strong and vital infrastructure.
The Rotunda at the San Diego Air & Space Museum is named in honor of the Gildred Family.