Aerial photo - 1938
LEONIA, OVERPECK CREEK, PALISADES PARK & FORT LEE
BY Fairchild Aerial Survey, Inc.
SIZE of Original photo: 7" X 9"
The founder of Fairchild Aerial Surveys, Sherman Mills Fairchild (1896-1971), was a pioneer in the field of aerial photography. He was the son of a wealthy congressman from New York, George Winthrop Fairchild, whose time-clock and adding-machine business eventually became the International Business Machines Corporation (IBM). In 1916, the younger Fairchild established himself as a technological leader when he developed the first synchronized camera shutter and flash. During World War I, he became interested in aerial photography and, in March 1919, completed a specialized camera for this purpose with a large, between-the-lens shutter. Shortly afterward he established the Fairchild Aerial Camera Corporation with financing from his father. By 1924, he had formed Fairchild Aerial Surveys, Inc., and secured a $7,000 contract to photo-map Newark, New Jersey. This was the first aerial mapping of a major city in the United States.
In 1917, during World War I, Sherman Fairchild attempted to join the military but was rejected because of his poor health. Determined to aid in the war effort, he and his father traveled to Washington to find out if the U.S. Army could benefit from Sherman's camera expertise. The government contracted him to develop a camera for aerial photography; such cameras already existed, but produced highly distorted photographs due to slow shutter speeds which could not keep up with the movement of the flying plane. Fairchild developed a camera in which the shutter was placed inside the lens; this design was fast enough to produce photographs with minimal distortion.