AKA Edward Hubback
Edward Hubbard
Eddie Hubbard in CL4S Empress
Photo Courtesy of Jim Brown

     Edward, "Eddie" Hubbard - Pioneer Air Mail Pilot
of the Pacific Northwest and Southwest British Columbia.
Here is a brief outline of his career.
     Eddie Hubbard was born in San Francisco, January 3, 1889 and came to Seattle in 1907. On November 1915, he was the first pupil in the Aviation School of the Northwest and the first in the Northwest to obtain an aviator's license from the Aero Club of America. In June, 1916, he prepared a learned article on aviation for the Salt Lake Tribune.
     In August, 1916, he flew delegates to a Red Cross convention over Lake Washington.
Joins Boeing Airplane Company
     In January, he joined the Boeing Airplane Company as a mechanic, Shortly afterwards, he became their test pilot.
     Hubbard left as civilian instructor in the American Air Service at San Diego in May, 1918. On his final day he put on an aerobatics show.
     The year 1919 was a busy one for Hubbard. In February, Bill Boeing and Hubbard attempted a flight to Vancouver, B.C. They landed at Anacortes for fuel, however a large wave smashed the seaplane's tail section and the flight was abandoned. In March, they successfully reached Vancouver. Hubbard did stunts over the city. They returned to Seattle with a bag of mail from the Canadian Post Office containing 60 pieces. One of these envelopes or covers was auctioned 2 years ago for $7,300! This was the first North American international air mail.
     In April, he flew Senator Miles Poindexter from Seattle to Bremerton and Everett. This was the first senator to keep an appointment by aircraft. Later that month he put on a show over Seattle for returning soldiers of the 91st Division.
     In May he flew people from Alaska around Seattle as first passengers of the Boeing Commerecial Air Service. That same month he flew newly weds from Seattle to Tacoma. He finished the month by dropping flowers on the University of Washington to commemorate 51 students who gave their lives in W.W. I.
     In June, among other things, he did aerial stunts for a 'Big Brother's' picnic, flew Bill Boeing to Victoria to give a luncheon address to the Victoria branch of the Aerial League of Canada, gave joyrides over Seattle to officials of the Boeing Company and flew a second honeymoon couple from Seattle to Tacoma.
     At the great open air banquet for Eddie Richenbacher in July, Hubbard put on a flying show. Richenbacher led the crowd to its feet and said, "Hubbard enjoys a great reputation among airmen everywhere. Many who have taken instruction from him believe him to be the most skillful pilot in America. I really see where he gets that reputation. They don't do that stuff any better anywhere."
     Later in July he flew a Red Cross official from Seattle to Port Townsend to catch a Transpacific Liner. He also found time to take a P.I. reporter aloft to view a parade.
     The August papers had photos and an article about Hubbard flying a mother and daughter over the city. Later he took State Senator lamping up for a survey flight for a municipal landing field.
     In September of 1919, Hubbard delivered tires by air to Everett. The tire company later had an ad about the event in a magazine. He took an advertising agency representative up to photograph subdivisions. He next took many aerial photos of the Pacific Fleet coming into the harbor. To finish the month, he delivered eye glasses to a passenger bound for the Orient. He dropped them from the air off Port Townsend.
     In November, Hubbard flew a senior miss from the University of Washington over the stadium. She dropped a football from 200 feet.
     In December, he flew Sir Arthur Whitten-Brown of Alcock and Brown fame, around Seattle. Afterwards he flew a washing machine from Seattle to Tacoma.

Edward Hubbard
Boeing B1, 1919
Photo Courtesy of Jim Brown
1920 Was Another Busy Year for Hubbard
To begin the year in January, He was to fly the famous singer Tetrazzini over Seattle. Tetrazzini got cold feet, so Hubbard took a Seattle Times lady reporter up. She wrote an article praising the great thrill. By March, there was talk of Hubbard flying ore from Northern B.C. Mines south. In April, Boeing showed three types of aircraft at an aviation exhibition in San Francisco. One was the
B-1 built for Hubbard's International Air Mail route between Seattle and Victoria. Between September 1919 and May 1920 there were many large ads in Seattle newspapers for the Boeing Air Taxi which was flown by Hubbard. An article in May shows a picture of the Boeing plane plus Hubbard standing beside a new car he had just purchased.
     In June, Hubbard, Boeing and others spoke to the Board of County Commissioners pushing them to select a site for an airfield. Later in June, at a boy's picinic sponsored by the Elks, Hubbard and another aviator performed stunts. There were 50,000 in attendance. At the Sand Point dedication ceremony, one commissioner flew to the site in a Boeing seaplane piloted by Hubbard. There were speeches by Boeing, etc., including many references to speeding up the mail. By July, Otto Praeger, second assistant Postmaster-General announces official sanction of hydroairplane mail service between Seattle and Victoria.There followed an agreement between the U.S. Post Office and Canadian Pacific Steamships (Empress Liners) to carry mail to the Orient.
     Hubbard flew to Victoria to pick up a honeymoon couple for Seattle in August. He also flew to to Vancouver, B.C. to give testimony at an aircraft crash inquiry. The Canadian Air Board had requested his presence. The aircraft had been manufactured by Boeing. He next flew his B-1 to Campbell River, D.C. for a Boeing fishing party trip. August also saw several announcements that Seattle-Victoria air mail had the green light.
     In September, Famous Player' Producers have Hubbard drop theater passes from his plane over Seattle. He next flew the Chief of the Engnineering Division of the Air Service over the Sand Point airfield site.
Hubbard Awarded Air Mail Contract.
     The Postmaster-General announced the Seattle-Victoria air mail contract had been let to Edward Hubbard in October, 1920. Many articles appeared in the Seattle and Victoria newspapers about the first flight from Seattle and return. The second trip was well covered by the press due to gale force winds on the trip to Seattle. He took two passengers from Seattle to Victoria. His third trip from Victoria was late in departing and Hubbard was forced to fly in the dark. On his fourth flight, he landed at Port Ludlow and stopped overnight due to a knock in the engine. Toward the end of the month, he flew the Seattle postmaster, Edgar Battle, over the air field at Sand Point.
     In November, due to headwinds, Hubbard was short of gasoline and landed in the ocean off Seattle. He drifted for one and one-half hours until he attracted the attention of a man ashore. The man came out with gasoline in his small boat. Hubbard then flew to his hanger on Lake Union.
There was a news report on how the air service is aided by carrying mail in various parts of the country, memtioning Hubbard's run. In December he fought a 90 mph gale to make his mail flight.
Air Mail Service Hangs in Balance
     February, 1921, sees the future of the Air Mail Service hanging in the balance awaiting congress to approve funds. By April, the continuation of the Seattle-Victoria Air Mail Service was approved. In July, Hubbard took his bride and some friends on a tour of Vancouver Island. In August, he made a midnight run from Victoria to Seattle with mail. His mail pick-ups were reported in the newspaper. Yet another report of his mail pick-ups appeared in the paper. This was followed by a whole page report and photos on the success of the Seattle-Victoria Aerial Mail in the Victoria Times. Over one million letters had been carried in ten months.
      Hubbard was forced down in a blizzard in Puget Sound after a November hunting trip. The plane was damaged and Hubbard's friend, a prominent lumber man was drowned. Hubbard's story of the accident was on page one of the Seattle P.I.
Hubbard Continues his Varied Career, 1922-1926
     In March of 1922, there was a picture of Marshall Joffre being rushed from Victoria to Seattle P.I. by Hubbard prior to the famous Frenchman's visit to Seattle. In the same month he flew a sheriff and bloodhounds to Port Townsend to hunt bank robbers who had held up a bank in Sequim and who later killed a man.
      By January of 1923, Hubbard had flown 50 tons of mail. In March he crashed just after leaving Victoria Harbor. He was not seriously hurt and the eleven bags of mail were recovered. The B-1 was taken to Seattle and rebuilt by Boeing. In April, a big article appeared in the Seattle Times, plus many photos. It was titled, "How Seattle's Aerial Postman Delivers His Mail."
      Hubbard was outbid on the mail contract in June, 1923. The successful bidder, Alaska Airways, lost money due to the high cost of operating their aircraft. They finally had Hubbard make the flights in his B-1.
      In April, 1924, an article in the Victoria Daily Colonist, stated that air service from Victoria to Vancouver should be started citing Hubbard's success. In April, E.N. Gott, president of the Boeing Airplane Company gave an interview and discussed the possibilities of aircraft and mail in the North. He pointed out the Success of Eddie Hubbard. Hubbard crashed into Lake Washington while testing a Boeing aircraft. He was not injured. The next month he made test flights in a new Boeing machine from Seattle to San Francisco.
      Hubbard flew a man from Seattle to Victoria in October, 1925 to catch up with his wife and child on their way to the orient.
     November, 1925. Hubbard was quoted in an article in a Victoria paper about air mail contracts from Seattle to Los Angeles. In March, 1926, an article in the Victoria Colonist suggested that mail will be able to go from Victoria to Seattle via Hubbard, then to Pasco, Washington by train and on to New York by air.
     October, 1926, a plane substituting for Hubbard crashed after take-off, with mail, into Senator Green's house at Victoria. The plane was a write-off, but the pilot escaped with a broken ankle.
Hubbard's Last Two Years, 1927-1928
     In January, the Boeing Airplane Company, with Hubbard's work-up, submitted the lowest bid for the San Francisco-Chicago air mail route. Clare Egtvedt, Boeing President, stated, "We have long comtemplated embarking in the commercial field. This contract, it seems to me, will give us our start." It was Hubbard who suggested the company build its own mail planes. They built twenty-five 40-B's. Up to this point all Boeing's mass production was for military aircraft. Hubbard was the man that put Boeing into the commercial field.
     In March of 1927, the Salt Lake papers had many write-ups on Hubbard being appointed Boeing Air Transport, Inc., Vice-president. He moved to Salt Lake as Manager of Operations to take over the government air mail route from San Francisco to Chicago. Hubbard gave a luncheon address to Salt Lake businessmen regarding the passenger and mail run from Salt Lake to Chicago and from Salt Lake to San Francisco. Passenger fares will almost be competing with rail and will be a boost to Salt Lake. The government air mail run did not take passengers. An editorial in the Salt Lake Tribune lauded Hubbard and Boeing Air Transport, Inc. By April, the Seattle P.I. had a big write-up and photos of Boeing, Hubbard and Vern Gorst announcing Pacific Air Transport Company's new passenger and air mail service between Seattle and Los Angeles, three trips per week. Hubbard gave up the Seattle-Victoria air mail run. That service continued until June, 1937.

Boeing Model 80
Boeing Model 80
Made its first flight on July 27, 1928, in Boeing Airlines service
Photo & Text Courtesy of Roy Nagl
Ancient Aviators Website
       In July, 1928, Boeing Air Transport purchased a new landing field in Reno which was one of the stops on the San Francisco to Chicago run. Hubbard handled the purchase of the air field site. By November, the Reno airfield was christened "Hubbard Field" by Bill Boeing. The party arrived at Hubbard Field in a new Boeing 12 passenger Tri-motor aircraft. This was the model 80. Hubbard praised Salt Lake City for making improvements to the airport. He was a passenger in a Boeing plane which crashed at the emergency field at Granger, Wyoming. No one was injured.  
Boeing Model 80
Boeing Model 80
Photo Courtesy of Roy Nagl
Ancient Aviators Website

Via email from Di Gardener, 12-12-04
Dear Sir,
     I would very much like to contact Mr. J. Brown, author of "Hubbard, The Forgotten Aviator". Edward Hubbard was actually born "Hubback" but an error on a licence led to him using the surname Hubbard. I am of the Hubback family, Uncle Eddie's father was brother to my great-great-grandfather, John Henry Hubback. Would it be possible for you to either let me know if it is possible to contact Mr Brown, or any of Uncle Eddie's descendants, if there are any. Or to forward this e-mail to Mr Brown or Uncle Eddie's descendants.
My apologies for making this request and taking your time
Yours Faithfully
Di Gardener

Via email from Di Gardener, 12-12-04
Dear Ralph,
In answer to your request I can give you the following ancestry for "Uncle Eddie".
  Edward Hubback:....................
Great Grandfather:.................

Great Grand Aunt:..................
b 3/1/1889 d 28/12/1928
     m Mildred, daughter Margaret
Edward Thomas Hubback b 1846 d 1924
     m 20/12/1877 Florence C Bentley 5/1857 d 3/3/1892
John Hubback b 6/1/1811 d 1885 ( Barrister in London)
     m 24/8/1842 Catherine Anne Austen b 7/7/1818 d 25/2/1877
Francis William Austen b 23/4/1774 d 10/8/1865
     (One of Admiral Nelson's "Band of Brothers" and rose to
     the Rank of Admiral of the Fleet)
     m 24/7/1806 Mary Gibson b 1785 d 14/7/1823
Jane Austen b 16/12/1775 d 18/7/1817
     (Authoress of Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility,
     Emma, Mansfield Park, Northranger Abbey etc.)
  I hope that this gives as much detail as you would like (and maybe the odd surprise),
Best Regards,

Via email from Erin Graham, 3-26-10
Dear Ralph,
I am writing in response to your website at http://earlyaviators.com/ehubbard.htm. I was wondering if you could place me in touch with Di Gardener who has inquired about Eddie Hubbard and his decendents. I am married to Eddie's great grandson. Here is a rough outline of the lineage.

Eddie married to Mildred
Daughter Margaret was married to John Graham

John adopted Margaret's daughter Peggy Sue and they had two sons, Edward James and Johnny R.

Johnny was married and divorced from Sandy. They had two daughters Trisha and Margaret

Edward James is married to Cathleen (White). They have a son, Edward Matthew, and a daughter Melissa Margaret.

Edward Matthew to married to me, Erin (McIlwain) and we have a son Edward Gage.

I read that Di Gardener was interested in getting in touch with Jim Brown, the author. He has since died.

Thank you for any information you can get to me,
Erin Graham


ISBN 0-89716-651-5
     Among the great names in aviation history, Eddie Hubbard is all but forgotten. But it was Hubbard who convinced a military airplane maker William E. Boeing that money could be made carrying mail and passengers, and thus began what became the world’s largest commercial aviation company.
     Hubbard died in 1928 at age 39 from surgery complications, cutting short a career as one of Boeing’s most trusted advisors and as a pilot whose daring skills made many headlines in Canada and the United States. World War I air ace Eddie Rickenbacker after seeing Hubbard put on a show over Seattle said, "Many believe him to be the most skilled pilot in America. I can see where he gets that reputation."
     The exciting story of his career is told by author Jim Brown in "Hubbard: The Forgotten Boeing Aviator," by Peanut Butter Publishing. An orphan, who grew up in San Francisco, Hubbard began his career as a mechanic after moving to Seattle in 1907. He fell in love with airplanes, earning the first pilot’s license issued in Seattle. He joined Boeing in 1916, just as the company was getting organized. Brown tells the story with words and a stunning collection of photographs. Hubbard was a visionary in many ways. He saw the value to business of quick information. From that, he realized people would pay to have mail flown by airplane. Hubbard carried his boss as passenger in the first North American international air mail flight from Vancouver, British Columbia to Seattle, March 3, 1919. He continued flying mail and passengers across the border from Seattle to Victoria for seven years. Despite foggy weather over the Strait of Juan de Fuca, he never missed a flight.
     Brown recreates a variety of historic flights, including the maiden flight of the B-1 flying boat and tells how, in 1927, Eddie Hubbard convinced Boeing to bid for the cross-country mail and passenger route from San Francisco to Chicago. He then convinced the company to resurrect a 1925 mail plane prototype upgraded with a metal body, more powerful engine and build twenty-five for the route. That plane, the Model 40, became Boeing’s first mass-produced commercial aircraft. Boeing Air Transport, Inc. was established as part of the sprouting empire, which was to include United Air Lines.
     Eddie Hubbard became vice-president of Operations, Boeing Air Transport with headquarters in Salt Lake City. This company made money from day one indicating Hubbard was not only an outstanding pilot, he was also an astute businessman.
     "He was a pioneer in private air transportation as well as air mail," writes William E. Boeing Jr. "This book chronicles his aeronautical career accurately and in detail."

A book about aviation history and the American Dream
by Jim Brown
Boeing Model 80
In 1928, when I was almost six years of age, I had my first flight with Eddie Hubbard over our old house in the Highlands. He was an extraordinary aviator who not only understood the skills required in flight but had a wonderful understanding of the commercial aspects of flight. He was a pioneer in private air transportation as well as airmail. This book chronicles his aeronautical career accurately and in detail.
Boeing Model 80
William E. Boeing, Jr.
       It was Jim Brown who kindly provided the biography of Edward Hubbard which you have just read on this page. For more information on the book, you can visit the Official Site by clicking on:

Hubbard Passes Away, December, 1928
     Hubbard passed away at the age of 39 in Salt Lake City after a stomach operation. This was front page news in Seattle, Salt Lake City, Victoria and many other cities. There were also editorials about the man. His estate was over one million dollars. He was an excellent businessman. he had invested heavily in real estate and Boeing stock. Hubbard is buried at the Evergreen-Washelli Cemetary in Seattle.
     Hubbard's B-1 Flying Boat was the only B-1 built. It was purchased in 1942 by the Seattle Historical Society and is on display at the Museum of History and Industry.
     Since Hubbard's death there have been numerous articles in newspapers and magazines about the man and his exploits.

  Editor's Note: If you have any more information on this Early Bird, please contact me.
E-mail to Ralph Cooper
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