William Whitney Christmas
William Whitney Christmas in 1915.jpg
Christmas in 1915
Born(1865-09-01)September 1, 1865
DiedApril 14, 1960(1960-04-14) (aged 94)
EducationSt. John's Military Academy
Alma mater
May Norris
(m. 1899)

William Whitney Christmas, M.D. (September 1, 1865 – April 14, 1960) was a physician, pioneer aviator, and supposed con man. He was one of many claimants for an early design of the aileron.[1] He was a vice-president of the General Development Corporation.[2][3]


He was born on September 1, 1865 in Warrenton, North Carolina to James Yancey Christmas and Rhoda Gaines. He attended the St. John's Military Academy then the University of Virginia where he obtained a bachelor's degree and a master's degree.[3][4] He graduated from George Washington University in 1905 with an M.D.[3]

He married May Norris in 1899 in Maryland, and they had as their son, Whitney Norris Christmas.

He developed the Christmas Bullet airplane in 1918 which had sprung steel wing spars, which crashed on its maiden flight after the wings tore themselves from the fuselage, killing the pilot. He then built a second example which also crashed on its maiden flight, again killing the pilot.[5][6]

In retirement he was still proposing improbable aeroplane designs.[7]

He died at Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan, New York City of pneumonia on April 14, 1960.[1]


Aircraft designed or developed by Christmas, most of which never left the drawing board, but were supposed to introduce various aviation patents. It is unlikely that any of them other than the Bullet ever flew. (1910: (Dr William Whitney) Christmas Aeroplane Co, Washington DC. c.1912: Durham Christmas Aeroplane Sales & Exhibition Co. 1918: Cantilever Aero Co, Copiague, NY.)[8]


  1. ^ a b "In Memoriam". Early Birds of Aviation. June 1, 1960. Retrieved 2015-08-08.
  2. ^ "William Whitney Christmas (1865-1960)". Smithsonian Institution Archives. Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved 8 August 2015.
  3. ^ a b c Freed, Callie (December 21, 2011). "Mr. Christmas And His Flights Of Fancy". Library of Virginia. Archived from the original on 2019-11-13. Retrieved 2013-11-25.
  4. ^ "Local Matters". Alexandria Gazette. 1884-09-13. p. 3. Retrieved 2021-06-12 – via Newspapers.com.
  5. ^ "World's Worst Planes: The Aircraft That That Failed". BBC Future Media. British Broadcasting Corporation. 22 May 2014. Retrieved 8 August 2015.
  6. ^ Lovell, Joseph Tyler (19 April 2018). "The Christmas Bullet Was The Worst Plane Ever Made". Foxtrot Alpha. Gizmodo Media Group. Retrieved 20 April 2018.
  7. ^ "Sky Giant Is Urged By Air Pioneer, 85. Dr. Christmas Plans Plane Like Battleship. His New Paper Dooms Counterfeiters". The New York Times. September 1, 1950. Retrieved 2015-08-08.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g Eckland, K.O. (2008-08-15). "American airplanes: Ca - Ci". Aerofiles.com. Retrieved 2011-01-28.