Birthplace: Cologne, Germany
Location of death: Munich, Germany
Cause of death: Suicide
Remains: Buried, Melaten Cemetery, Cologne, Germany
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Executive summary: Founder of BMW and Flottweg AG
Gustav Otto's father, Nikolaus Otto, invented the four-stroke internal combustion engine, but young Gustav was drawn more to flying than driving. In 1910 he designed and built a biplane, and established the Gustav Flugmaschinefabrik (Gustav Flying Machine Factory). This business saw some success, including construction of the Bavarian Army's first serious air force. Otto also ran a flying school, where he gave flight lessons to Ernst Udet, who later became one of Germany's most renowned flying aces of World War I.
In 1915 Otto was hospitalized with what is now called severe depression. In his absence the Gustav Flying Machine Factory's fortunes faltered, and he was removed from the company's leadership. The business was then merged with a rival aircraft enginemaker, Rapp-Motorenwerke (Rapp Motor Works) and renamed Bayerische Flugzeug-Werke (Bavarian Aircraft Works). In 1918 the company was re-named again, emerging as Bayerische Motoren Werke (Bavarian Motor Works), now better known by its initials, BMW.
After being discharged from both the hospital and his aircraft company, Otto established the Otto-Werke Flugzeug und Maschinenfabrik (Otto Works Aircraft and Machine Co.), which offered among other products the 'Flottweg' bicycle with an auxiliary engine. In 1921 he expanded the business to include the manufacture of autos and boats. In 1924 Otto's wife divorced him, and she soon remarried but died in 1925 under mysterious circumstances. After this Otto sank back into depression and committed suicide in 1926. His motorized bike, boat, and auto business became Flottweg Motoren Werke (Flottweg Motor Works), and in recent decades it has evolved into Flottweg AG, a manufacturer of centrifuges and industrial equipment for waste water processing.
Father: Nikolaus Otto (automotive pioneer)
Mother: Anna Katherina Gossi-Rouply Otto (b. 2-Oct-1839, m. May-1886, d. 16-Dec-1914)
Wife: Ada Hoff Otto (m. 1912, div. 1924, d. 1925)
High School: Cologne Gymnasium, Cologne, Germany
Flottweg AG Founder & President of Flottweg Motor Works (1918-24)
BMW Founder & President of Gustav Flying Machine Factory (1910-18)
Risk Factors: Depression
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