The Early Years

T. Higbee EmbryJohn Paul RiddleThe Embry-Riddle Co.WacosThe Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University we know today is the product of a long and prestigious history.  Embry-Riddle got its start in 1925 at Lunken Field in Cincinnati when barnstormer John Paul Riddle met entrepreneur T. Higbee Embry and the two formed a partnership as the Embry-Riddle Company.  In the beginning the company taught the adventurous to fly as the Embry-Riddle Flying School.  In addition, the company sold aircraft rides; and became a distributor for WACO, Fairchild, and Monocoupe aircraft.  They quickly expanded to include an aerial advertising service, and even established one of the first travel agencies to promote flying.  By 1927, the company had started flying passengers and cargo between Louisville, Cleveland, and Cincinnati.  Later in the year the Embry-Riddle Company was awarded a sought-after air mail contract and became the first regular air mail carrier in Cincinnati, making the city one of the first in the country to have direct air mail service.  By 1928, interest in aviation was increasing and the Embry-Riddle Flying School experienced significant growth.  The company established the Air Pilots, a “flying basketball team” which was the first all-pilot sport team in the country, and the first team to fly to their out-of-town games.  In some cases, the team even flew in formation to their games.

In 1929, Embry-Riddle was one of the first five flying schools in the country to be certified under the Department of Commerce’s newly-minted Air Commerce Act.  However, later that year, the Embry-Riddle Company merged with the newly-formed Aviation Corporation (AVCO), an alliance that came with a price.  Although Embry-Riddle’s airline and cargo routes remained prosperous, the company no longer sold aircraft, and in 1930 AVCO closed Embry-Riddle’s flying school.  A year later, Embry left the company and retired to California.  In 1932, AVCO moved its Embry-Riddle Division to St. Louis where it was merged into a new division called American Airways, and the original Embry-Riddle Company was no more.