Ted Abrams, the Man Responsible for Abrams Planetarium, East Lansing
You've heard of – and probably visited – Abrams Planetarium. But what do you know about the guy it was named after?
Talbert “Ted” Abrams was born on August 17, 1896 in Tekonsha. When he was a kid he was fascinated with flight. He was awestruck by the exploits of the Wright Brothers and determined to become a pilot himself.
He left home when he was eighteen and moved to Detroit, where he found work in airports doing menial tasks and odd jobs. A year later, he went to Ohio where he was hired as a mechanic at the Benoist Airplane Company. He then went to Buffalo, New York, and entered the Curtiss Aviation School where he learned to fly. He was awarded his pilot's license, signed by one of his childhood heroes, Orville Wright.
Ted entered the marines in 1917 and after WWI, he remained in the military where he learned aerial photography. After his discharge, he started his own business, the ABC (“Always Be Careful”) Airline. He was able to coax customers into taking plane rides by showing them his aerial photography...but they rather wanted the photos instead.
In January 1923 he married Leota Fry and they moved to Lansing. He formed the Abrams Aerial Survey Corporation which became in demand for aerial photography. This was followed by the Abrams Instrument Corporation and the Abrams Aircraft Corporation in 1937. This time he was interested in building a better plane suited for aerial photography. Thus, he created the Abrams Model P-1 Explorer, the first aircraft ever used specifically for aerial photography. After WWII, his plane was no longer needed and it sits to this day in the National Air & Space Museum.
After selling his company and retiring, he and Leota traveled the world.....he even had an Antarctic mountain named after him.
The architecture of his house in Lansing was inspired by an airplane shadow on a cloud. According to archipedia.org, the house is “essentially a long rectangular form with rounded corners bisected by a shorter, similarly round-cornered rectangle..... (Ted) explained that the shape of an airplane's shadow on the upper surface of a cloud bank as he and his wife, Leota, were flying at fifteen thousand feet inspired the plan of this house.”
In 1962, Ted and Leota donated a great sum of money to MSU specifically for a future planetarium.....it became a reality and is now forever known as 'Abrams Planetarium'.
Ted passed away on August 26, 1990.
You can read more detailed info on Mr. Abrams here.
Meantime, check out the photo gallery below!
MORE MICHIGAN CHARACTERS!