Frederick J. Hooven

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Frederick J. Hooven (born 5 March 1905, Dayton, Ohio - died 5 February 1985) was an engineer and inventor.

When he was five years old Hooven met Orville Wright and by age fifteen he was a regular visitor to the Wrights brothers' Dayton laboratory. Hooven graduated from MIT in 1927 and went to work for General Motors as an engineer. In 1935 he became vice president and chief engineer of the radio products division of Bendix Aviation Corporation. where he developed the Hooven Radio Compass, which is still known as the Automatic Direction Finder (or ADF). Hooven installed one of the protoype units in Earhart’s Electra 10E in 1936, however Earhart swapped this unit out with a lighter, earlier system. This was partly to save weight for more fuel, but there may have been other reasons, such as her lack of understanding of problems which could be foreseen in using radio navigation to find Howland Island. Her failure to find the island with the equipment on board the aircraft is arguably the main reason for her disappearance, and this has been cited as a flaw in planning.

See the Hooven Report for Hooven's own reflections on why he thought Earhart's choice of equipment was unwise.

When he died, Hooven held 53 patents in fields such as avionics, bombsights, automotive ignition and suspension systems, photographic typesetting and medical technology. In 1986 he was posthumously awarded the Robert Fletcher Award for "distinguished achievement and service" by the Thayer School of Engineering, Dartmouth College.