View single post by Mike Kearns
 Posted: Sun Jan 16th, 2022 08:43 pm
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Mike Kearns

Joined: Fri Nov 24th, 2006
Working at Oklahoma A & M College, Ralph K. Odor began experimenting with methods to improve the efficiency of propellers in the 1920's, creating a working model of an "intubed propeller" which used a carefully constructed cavity to increase air flow.  He combined the words "vortex" and "tornado" to describe his proposed aircraft, which he called the "Vornado."  The aircraft project was shelved in 1938 to focus instead on fans, but then World War II intervened.   After the war, he met Ottis A. Sutton, a Wichita Kansas entrepreneur, who helped put his ideas into production as the Vornado fan, or "air circulator" as he preferred to call it.                                                            {Ralph Keeley Odor, in 1928, image courtesy of Russ Huber}

The company prospered and at one time accounted for fully one third of all fans made in the U.S.  Unfortunately, according to the Vornado Trust operated by his grandson, Sutton began to submit Ralph Odor's patent applications under his own name.  This understandably led to a falling out between the two men.  Mr. Odor left the company with the plans to challenge Sutton in court, but didn't have the financial means to pursue this.  During the air conditioning rage of the 1960's, fan sales dropped and the Sutton company declared bankruptcy.  The Vornado name was revived in the late 1980's, but the new owners gave the now late Mr. Odor no credit for his ideas.  In fact, someone else was credited with the original design (Richard Van Eyck, incorrectly).  Now under new management, Vornado gives full credit to Mr. Odor with an excellent video on their website.]The Vornado plane never achieved commercial production, but the designs Ralph Odor created and the patents he developed led to a popular and successful air circulation system used in a fan known as the Vornado. Odor would continue to be an innovator and research engineer for the rest of his life and secured nine U.S. patents. He died at age 91 on Feb. 10, 1987. Now, for the Ottis A. Sutton side of the story: From the Wichita Eagle, June 30, 1955 -

Last edited on Fri Jan 21st, 2022 09:37 pm by Mike Kearns