G. Edison Allen: Remembering a business aviation pioneer

 - May 8, 2008, 6:11 AM

G. Edison Allen, chief pilot and director of aviation for Dassault Falcon Jet and a well known figure in business aviation, died on April 25. The following address was given by John Rosanvallon, president of Dassault Falcon Jet, at Allen’s funeral in Eastman, Ga., on May 5:

Good morning everyone. My name is John Rosanvallon. I am president of Dassault Falcon Jet, the company where our good friend, Ed Allen, worked for nearly 30 years of his professional life.

I would like to thank Ed’s family for giving me the opportunity to say a few words in remembrance of Ed, a man who had a tremendous influence on our company, our employees and our industry as a whole.

As many of you know, Ed was first attracted to airplanes and the people who flew and maintained them, as a young man growing up in Georgia, not far from this church where we are all sitting today. In fact, he was bitten so hard by the aviation bug that he decided to pursue his professional career in the sky; first as a pilot in the United States Air Force, where he commanded the world’s most sophisticated tanker aircraft–the venerable Boeing KC-135–and later as a pilot for Pan American World Airways, which at that time was the flag carrier of the U.S. and was widely respected as the world’s leading airline.

While at Pan Am, Ed learned of the new aviation venture that Pan Am was initiating with the famed French airplane manufacturer, Marcel Dassault-Breguet Aviation. This new venture, called Pan Am Business Jets, eventually evolved into Dassault Falcon Jet Corp. when Pan Am sold its interest to Dassault in 1981.

During the 1960s, the men leading these two aviation giants, Juan Trippe and Marcel Dassault, jointly agreed that the worldwide marketplace, particularly in the U.S., was ready for a new brand of aircraft–namely small, fast jet airplanes that could be used by corporations and governments throughout the world to provide safe, dependable transportation to airports that were not accessible to the larger airliners. Together with Charles Lindbergh (whom Ed met several times), they selected the name “Falcon” as the trademark which would be used to identify the aircraft built in France by Dassault and sold in the Western Hemisphere by Pan Am.

When Ed learned of this new opportunity, he jumped at the chance to become part of the Falcon team. He quickly established himself as a leader in the small group of pioneers who took on the challenge of starting an entirely new business from scratch and selling an entirely new concept to the traveling public–business aviation.

As all of his fellow employees know, Ed was not only an outstanding pilot but he also excelled as a manager and organizer of people. For that reason, Ed was selected to lead the Falcon flight operation as chief pilot and later as director of Falcon’s entire aviation department. In this role, Ed nurtured a team of men and women who, through hard work and dedication, have earned a richly deserved reputation as the finest flight demonstration team in the world.

It was also while working at Falcon that Ed met his lovely wife, Anne-Marie. It was truly “a marriage made in the heavens” as both partners genuinely loved aviation and were dedicated to the success of our Falcon aircraft program. Thank you, Anne-Marie, for being such an important and respected member of our Falcon family throughout the years. Our hearts and prayers are with you.

Finally, I want you all to know that I consider Ed to be one of my best friends and professional colleagues–always dependable, always thoughtful and always putting “Falcon first” in performing his role as chief pilot and director of aviation.

Ed was the holder of 15 world speed records in various Falcon models and had flown more than 14,000 hours as PIC, but he would never brag about those facts. That’s just the way Ed was.

We will miss you, my friend, but your legacy will live on.