He occupied a distinct place among pilots of his time, the golden age of airmenship; in America, Jordanoff gained almost legendary status for his many roles as test pilot, airmail and air taxis pilot, stunt pilot, and flying instructor.
He worked as an engineer for a number of companies, including Curtiss-Wright, Boeing, Lockheed, North American, Consolidated, Chance-Vought, Douglas and Piper, where he produced instruction books and manuals for famous airplanes such as the P-40 Warhawk, the P-38 Lightning, the B-25 Mitchell, the B-17 Flying Fortress, the B-24 Liberator, the B-29 Superfortress, and the Douglas DC-3. Jordanoff was also well known for his numerous didactic publications on aeronautics, including his inventions outside the realm of aviation.
Aviation careerFaced with the dilemma of knowing absolutely no English, Assen Jordanoff began his life in America shoveling snow in New York for small pay. After the snow melted, Jordanoff was able to find a job at a construction work on a skyscraper. Having a job he spent all his free time at the Public Library, studying English by himself or reading books and manuals on subjects such as aeronautics, machinery, and mechanics. At that time he become known among his friends and colleagues as Jerry, rather than Assen, a familiar name that would stick with him for the rest of his life.
Jordanoff then got a job at the Curtiss-Wright Corporation. Having his English improved, Assen Jordanoff went on to take university courses in engineering, aeronautics, radio electronics, physics, and chemistry. At the same time he graduated from a flying school; his instructor was William Winston, who was also Charles Lindbergh's flight instructor. Jordanoff moved later to Curtiss-Wright, therefrom he would emerge as a test pilot and in parallel as a sales manager, a pilot of air taxis, a stunt pilot and above all a flying instructor. He also specialized in flying under complex weather conditions. Jordanoff was still just in his late 20s. Jordanoff was invited by Thomas Edison to visit him at his home in Menlo Park, New Jersey as Edison was at the stage of developing a proto-radar and was also interested in helicopters, a research project in which Assen Jordanoff was involved at the same time. They collaborated designs and worked together for several months.
In the 1930s and early 1940s Jordanoff wrote a number of illustrated books on problems of aviation, which became a Bible for future aviators. More than 750,000 copies of his books were sold in the USA. Some of them were translated in other languages.
After 1940 began a major period in Assen Jordanoff's career. During the next ten years, he established and presided over his own business enterprises: The Jordanoff Aviation Corporation, followed by The Jordanoff Corporation and then The Jordanoff Company, before the creation in 1946 of Jordanoff Electronics. In aeronautics, the Jordanoff companies collaborated with such firms as Douglas, Chance-Vought, Lockheed, Curtiss-Wright, McDonnell, Boeing, North American, Consolidated, and Piper.
At the request of many, Jordanoff, as a designer and engineer within his own enterprise, compiled instruction books and manuals for the operation and maintenance, inspection and repair for some well-known aircraft such as the Lockheed P-38 Lightning, a very versatile aircraft used during World War II mainly as high-speed, high-altitude fighter, long-range escort fighter and photo reconnaissance plane; the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk, America's foremost fighter in service when World War II began; the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress and the B-29 Super Fortress, the best long-range bombers in World War II; the Consolidated B-24 Liberator and the North American B-25 Mitchell bombers, and the Douglas DC-3 transport aircraft.
A very important activity was the preparation and the distribution of thousands of copies of descriptive books and practical manuals for aircraft. Jordanoff also became renowned for his many articles and publishing on aviation, as well as his commentaries and editorials. He was presented as a prominent authority on all the areas of aviation. Jordanoff eventually became the largest American publisher and editor of specialized military manuals.
In the 1940s Jordanoff was assigned the task by the United States Department of Defense to prepare instruction manuals for military aircraft, submarines and aircraft carriers, on topics like land support with radio equipment, air meteorology, theoretic and flight preparation of the pilots for diurnal and nocturnal piloting. These were for crew use, inspection, maintenance and repair.
Aside from his many patents on plane design, Jordanoff also introduced the so-called Jordaphone from his Electronics company, a wireless telephone, with an answering function and amplifier and intercom functions. It was the first of its kind, and preceded the modern inventions of the answering machine and tape recorder by 5 to 30 years. Another invention was the Frozen Gasoline System for airplanes.
The idea was to super-cool the fuel in an aircraft's tank with dry ice and alcohol, thus making it inflammable. This system was never finally implemented, but its principles were later adopted in different forms. Further inventions of note included The Reverse Thrust device, which was made to decrease the specific fuel consumption and to increase the thrust of jet engines. The world's first air bag, meant to ensure the safety of pilots and automobile drivers alike, was designed by Jordanoff in (1957).
The Stratoport resumed Jordanoff's interest in aviation. A special company was established: The Stratoport Corporation of America (1956). It owned the patent issued for a field of two unidirectional no-cross runways, set end-to-end and elevated to slow-down planes that are landing and to speed-up those taking off. The runways were screened by high perforated fences that reduced crosswinds. The high screens were also expected to reduce the noise as well as the elevated ends to reduce the length and the area needed for runways. Nonetheless, as was the case with the Jordaphone, the new concept was too ambitious and modernistic.
Jordanoff married in 1929 Alice Grant Patton. She was ten years older than he was. They divorced in 1942. In 1942 he married his second wife Diana. They divorced in 1950 after his financial collapse. In 1955 he married Lucile Andrews. When in 1962 Jordanoff retired, he settled with her in a small cottage in Harrison, New York.
Jordanoff's popularity in America became almost legendary, as he was often the subject of many anecdotes and polemics. Jordanoff was made an honorary citizen of New York City, his name appeared in Who's Who. The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum holds his papers and mementoes..
Assen Jordanoff died October 19, 1967, aged 71, in St. Angels Hospital in White Plains, New York. His ashes were dispersed from a plane by some of his friends.
Jordanoff Bay in Davis Coast on the Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctica is named after Assen Jordanoff.
- Assen Jordanoff, Flying and how to do it, Grosset & Dunlap, New York, 1932, 1936, 1940
- Assen Jordanoff, Your Wings, Funk and Wagnalls, 1936, 1939–1940, 1942
- Assen Jordanoff, Through the Overcast: The Weather and the Art of Instrument Flying, Funk and Wagnalls, New York - London, 1938–1939, 1940-1941, 1943
- Assen Jordanoff, Safety in Flight, Funk & Wagnalls, New York - London, 1941, 1942
- Assen Jordanoff, Jordanoff's Illustrated Aviation Dictionary, Harper & Brothers, New York - London, 1942
- Assen Jordanoff, The man behind the Flight: A ground course for aviation mechanics and airmen, Harper & Brothers, New York - London, 1942
- Assen Jordanoff, Power and Flight, Harper & Brothers, New York - London, 1944
- Assen Jordanoff, Men and Wings, Curtiss - Wright, New York, 1942.
- Sport flying is hailed to giver higher horizons: High Cost of Plane Per Hour Becomes Economy When Compared With Car On Mileage Basis, New York Times, June 15, 1930, pg. XX5;
- Diver Flies, Flyer Dives, Popular Science Monthly, January 1931;
- Unit Parachutes Called Practical: Flier Believes Transport Planes Adaptable To Use of Packs—No Fear Complex, Wide World Photo, New York Times, Apr 26, 1931, pg. XX8;
- Will Autogiro Banish Present Plane, Popular Science Monthly, March 1931;
- Check for Plane Lift: Pilot Urges Revolution Recorder in Place of Time Log: Stunts Bring Extra Strains. Fixes Time for Overhaul., New York Times, July 5, 1931, pg. 97;
- Thrills I Get in Piloting Air Taxis, Popular Science Monthly, July 1931;
- What Pupils Taught Me About Flying, Popular Science Monthly, November 1931;
- Flying, Popular Science Monthly, January 1932;
- The First Fighting Squadron, Sportsman pilot, February 1932;
- Stunt Flying, Popular Science Monthly, May 1932.
- Assen Jordanoff and Aviation by Milka Toteva, Societe des Gens de Lettres, Paris 1995 (in Bulgarian);
- Go 6,000 miles; find air race postponed: Two Young Bulgarian Fliers Travel From Sofia.., New York Times, Sep 4, 1921, pg. 21;
- Designers shows how stability aids plane safety: new model shows fast climb, By Clarence D. Chamberlin. New York Times, Mar 16, 1930, pg. XX8;
- Edison forecasts 'eye' for flying: Taking First Ground Lesson, He Hints Device Might Convert Light into Sound...Expounds Theories to Jordanoff, Plane Designer -Sees Future for Helicopter Machines., New York Times, Oct 3, 1930, pg. 29;
- 'Frozen' Gasoline Curbs Plane from Peril: Dry Ice and Alcohol Cool the Liquid, Thus Reducing Danger From Fire, New York Times, Jan 16, 1939, pg. 17;
- Jordanoff to issue Aviation Manuals, Publishers Weekly v. 143, Jan 2, 1943
- McLaughlin Joins Jordanoff, New York Times, Nov 15, 1942, pg. F8;
- Aviation Firm Expands: Jordanoff Co. Leases Additional Space in Madison Ave., New York Times, Apr 14, 1943, pg. 38;
- Fitzpatrick Joins Jordanoff, New York Times, Jul 21, 1943, pg. 22;
- Assen Jordanoff: Aviation Pioneer: Stunt Flier Is Dead at 71, Fought in World War I, New York Times, Oct 19, 1967, pg. 47.
SCAR Gazetteer Ref. No 18603
This name originates from Bulgaria.
It is part of the Bulgaria Gazetteer and the SCAR Composite Gazetteer of Antarctica.
The 5 km wide bay indenting for 4.9 km Davis Coast in Graham Land on the Antarctic Peninsula. Entered between Wennersgaard Point and Tarakchiev Point. Named for the Bulgarian-American pioneer of aviation Assen Jordanoff (1896-1967) who built the first Bulgarian airplane in 1915 and took part in the construction of B-17 and other US planes.