EUGENE, Ore., 7 June 2012.Avionics pioneer Edward King Jr., the man who founded general aviation avionics mainstay King Radio Corp., died Sunday at his home in Eugene, Ore. King was 90 when he died near the winery he and his family founded in 1991 in Eugene, Ore. -- King Estate Winery.
King is perhaps best known for the avionics company he founded in 1959, King Radio Corp., which he started in his basement and then moved into a farmhouse in the Kansas City suburb of Lenexa, Kan., and later to a more permanent site in Olathe, Kan.
King Radio was a well-known manufacturer of general aviation avionics, aviation gauges, and indicators, and was a major avionics supplier to private aircraft manufacturers like Cessna Aircraft Co. in Wichita, Kan.; Piper Aircraft Inc., then located in Lock Haven, Pa., and now located in Vero Beach, Fla.; and Beechcraft in Wichita, Kan., and now known as Hawker-Beechcraft Corp.
The success of King Radio began with the popular KY 90 VHF communications radio avionics. Over the years King Radio produced other notable avionics instruments such as the KDF 800 automatic direction finder (ADF) and the KX 155 navigation/communication radio. Many of these products can still be found on aircraft flying today.
-- New Bendix/King AV8OR software enables fuel pricing and airport services information
-- Honeywell certifies primary flight display for piston-powered aircraft.
King Radio avionics instruments were installed on notable aircraft such as Burt Rutan's Voyager, which in 1986 became the first airplane to circumnavigate the globe on one tank of fuel.
"Ed King was one of the most important figures in the development of modern avionics," says Ed Bolen, chief executive officer of the National Business Aviation Association in Washington. "His vision and entrepreneurial spirit helped establish and advance the state of the art for onboard electronics."
In 2003 the NBAA board of directors recognized King's accomplishments by presenting him with a special NBAA First Century of Flight Award, which recognized his significant contributions to the advancement of aviation since the advent of powered flight more than 100 years ago. In 1988, King was recognized with NBAA's Meritorious Service to Aviation Award for his lifelong dedication to the industry.
King was born on his parents' farm near Jetmore, Kan., on 8 Aug. 1921. King graduated from Hodgeman County Community High School and attended Dodge City Junior College before enrolling as an engineering student at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kan.
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After graduating from college in 1943, King took a job on the East Coast with RCA, designing aircraft radio equipment for the U.S. Navy. In 1948, he founded his first company, Communications Accessories Corporation (CAC), which in 1956 was purchased by Collins Radio Corp., which later became known as Rockwell Collins.
King remained CAC's president until 1959, when he left to found King Radio Corp. Eventually, the company employed thousands of workers who developed and produced navigation and communication equipment for all types of general aviation aircraft, from piston-powered airplanes to business jets.
In 1985, King sold King Radio to Allied Signal/Bendix Aerospace -- now Honeywell Avionics -- and retired. Honeywell still honors King's name with the Honeywell line of Bendix King avionics instruments.
In 1991 King joined with his son, Ed King III and other family members to found the King Estate Winery near Eugene, Ore. The company has since grown to be become one of Oregon's largest wineries.
Survivors include his wife of 32 years, Carolyn G. King; his son Ed King III (Jodee); daughter Shelley King Theis; son William King; daughter Shannon Young; son Ronald Innes (Michelle), numerous granddaughters and grandsons, and a great grandson.