A trailblazer, inventor and teacher in the field of aerial photography, Talbert “Ted” Abrams is best known for designing the Abrams P-1 Explorer, the first aircraft designed exclusively for aerial photography and surveying.
Abrams flying career spanned several decades, starting with his first pilot’s license in 1918, which was signed by Orville Wright. He was an officer of the U.S. Marine Corps Aviation Section, taking aerial photographs from his cockpit. After World War I, he started the Abrams Aerial Survey Corporation. In 1937, he developed the Explorer, which featured a wider wing span, a rear engine and a huge glass nose. Coupled with instrument and camera enhancements invented by Abrams, the plane was used by the U.S. military for reconnaissance during World War II. He trained Marine surveyors and interpreters during the war at the Abrams School Of Aerial Surveying and Photo Interpretation. By the time he hung up his wings, Abrams himself estimated that he had mapped nearly 1,750 U.S. cities by air.