After serving as a mechanic, flight instructor, test pilot and engineer in the Navy, Grumman left the service as a Lieutenant Junior Grade in 1920. Upon his departure from the Navy, Grumman joined Loening Aeronautical Engineering Corporation as a test pilot and aeronautical engineer, rising to become general manager. In 1929, Grumman set out with two Loening employees and three others to establish the Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation.In 1930, Grumman produced its first product, a float with retractable landing gear for Navy amphibious aircraft. The company then set out to design new fighter and scout planes for the Navy and won a contract to build a carrier-based fighter with fully retractable landing gear. It was also the first naval fighter to exceed 200 mph in level flight. The JF-1 followed shortly after as an amphibious scout version of the FF-1. Both planes became key naval aircraft during the 1930's.
Grumman went on to produce one of the most successful warplanes of WWII: the F6F Hellcat. It was designed to take advantage of more powerful engines and to meet higher performance requirements. Flying 60 miles per hour faster than the Wildcat, 300 miles farther without refueling and carrying more armament, the Hellcat quickly gained a reputation for outstanding performance and craftsmanship, with pilots of the Hellcat earning 5,156 of the 6,477 aerial victories claimed during the war. Grumman produced more than 12,000 planes between June 1942 and November 1945, the largest number of fighters ever made in a single aircraft factory.
Born in 1895 in Huntington, New York, Grumman graduated second in his class from Huntington High School in 1911. Already interested in aviation, he addressed the fledgling industry in his salutatorian address at commencement. In 1916, he graduated from Cornell University with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering, and a year after graduation he enlisted in the Navy where he attended classes at Columbia University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 1921, Grumman married Rose Marion Werther, and they had four children. He died in 1982 in Manhassett, New York.
Grumman has been the recipient of many awards and distinctions for his contributions to the aviation industry, including the Presidential Medal of Merit in 1945, the Daniel Guggenheim Medal in 1948, and the Frank M. Hawks Memorial Award in 1958. He was the first recipient of the Hunsaker Medal from the National Academy of Science and is an inductee of both the National Aviation Hall of Fame and the International Aerospace Hall of Fame.