Thursday, 17 May 2007

James H. "Dutch" Kindelberger 1895-1962

James Howard "Dutch" Kindelberger was born in Wheeling, W.Va., on May 8, 1895, the son of steelworker Charles Frederick Kindelberger. Kindelberger started working in the steel industry with his father but, in 1916, when he was 21 years old, went to study at the Carnegie Institute of Technology.

The United States entered World War I in 1917, and Dutch Kindelberger joined the Army to serve in the Aviation Section of the Signal Corps. He was a pilot instructor based at Park Field in Memphis, Tenn. After the war, Kindelberger looked for work in aviation. In 1919, he married Thelma Knarr and, in 1920, became chief draftsman and assistant chief engineer with the Glenn L. Martin Aircraft Company in Cleveland, Ohio. Five years later, he joined Douglas Aircraft in California as chief engineer. Kindelberger remained with Douglas for nine years, leading development of the DC-1 and the DC-2.

In 1934, Kindelberger became president and general manager of General Aviation, later renamed North American Aviation Inc., and served as general manager until 1948, when he became chairman and chief executive officer. Under his guidance, North American Aviation broke technological barriers; produced propeller- and jet-powered fighters and bombers, military trainers, rocket engines, and rocket-powered aircraft; and began its role as the prime contractor for the country's space program.

Kindelberger retired in 1960 as chief executive officer at the age of 65 and was succeeded by Lee Atwood. Kindelberger remained chairman of the board until his death two years later.

James S.McDonnell 1899-1980

James Smith McDonnell was an aviation pioneer and founder of McDonnell Aircraft Corporation, later McDonnell Douglas.

McDonnell (or "Mac" as he was often referred) was a graduate of Princeton University and earned a Master's of Science in Aeronautical Engineering from MIT. While attending MIT he joined the Delta Upsilon Fraternity. After graduating from MIT, he worked for the Huff Daland Airplane Company and Glenn L. Martin Company. He resigned from Martin in 1938 and founded McDonnell Aircraft Corporation in 1939.

Headquartered in St. Louis, the company quickly grew into the principal supplier of fighter aircraft to the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy. In 1950, he founded the James S. McDonnell Foundation to "improve the quality of life," and does so by contributing to the generation of new knowledge through its support of research and scholarship.

McDonnell was, by some accounts, a believer in the occult, and many of his aircraft were given names of supernatural beings or practices (such as phantom, demon, goblin, banshee, and voodoo).
McDonnell Aircraft merged with the Douglas Aircraft Company in 1967. The McDonnell corporate heritage now rests with Boeing which merged with McDonnell Douglas in 1997, including the St. Louis plant that produces the F-15 Eagle and F/A-18 Hornet / F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fighters.

Donald Wills Douglas 1892–1981

Graduated by Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1914, Donald Wills Douglas became chief engineer of the Glenn L Martin Co in 1915. He was appointed chief civilian aeronautical engineer of the Army's aviation section in 1916, then rejoined Martin in 1917, where designed the famous Martin Bomber.
Forming his own company in 1920, Douglas embarked on a career of manufacturing private, commercial, and military aircraft. His Cloudster was the first airplane to lift a payload equal to its own weight and, based on its design, in 1924 he built the DWC World Cruisers that made the first global flight. This brought him fame as an aircraft designer. In the mid-1920s he produced a remarkable series of observation, cargo, transport, mail, and amphibian airplanes. In 1932 came the development of his historic DC series of commercial transports—the DC-2 was an immediate success, and earned Douglas Co the 1935 Collier trophy. Its successor, DC-3, became the world's most widely-used airliner and helped make commercial aviation practical.

With the approach of WW2, his company mass-produced troop and cargo transports, as well as bombers, dive bombers, and attack planes for the Allied forces. After the war, Douglas Co developed new types of military aircraft and missiles, as well as important new multi-engine commercial transports that helped make possible the expansion of domestic and international passenger and cargo air service.

Glenn Hammond Curtiss 1878-1930

Glenn Hammond Curtiss was raised by his mother after the father died when he was four, moving to Rochester in 1890. In school there, his interest in mathematics and machinery was apparent and, after graduation, he went to work at Eastman Kodak company as a camera assembler.
His interest in 1906 in motorcycles and racing prompted a switch in careers when he was offered a job at a local cycle shop, and later opened his own store to help finance his racing. His thirst for speed led to experiments in gas engines, and he was soon designing and producing his own brand of one- and two-cylinder motorcycle engines. He tried unsuccessfully to interest the Wright brothers in his engine designs for use in their airplanes, but one design caught the attention of Thomas Scott Baldwin, who ordered a motor to use on his airship, California Arrow.

On January 23, 1907, he set a motorcycle speed record of 136.3mph with a 40hp air-cooled V-8 design that would lead directly to the popular OX aircraft motor of WW1. Later that same year, Alexander Graham Bell purchased a Curtiss motor and was so impressed with it that he invited its designer to join him in his Aerial Experimental Association (AEA), where, with Frank W Baldwin, he designed and built the first airplanes to feature movable wing-tip ailerons. These, however, brought on bitter patent-infringement lawsuits that ran on for years in courts until finally ending with a Wright-Curtiss Co merger in 1929.
Curtiss began flying and became Director of Experiments for AEA in 1908. There he designed aircraft and was successful in building the June Bug, a Curtiss-powered aircraft that won the Scientific American Trophy for a first flight in the USA traveling one kilometer.
1909 was A key year for Curtiss, who, after leaving AEA, built aircraft independently for himself and others, notably the Aeronautical Society of New York. One of these was the Golden Flierin which he won the Gordon Bennett Cup in Reims, France, awarded for the fastest flight speed, which was his then-breathtaking 46.5mph. Following this, Curtiss founded his own company and flight school in Hammondsport, America's first such commercial operations.
In 1909 Curtiss joined with Augustus M Herring to form the Herring-Curtiss Co to manufacture powered vehicles. Despite numerous lawsuits, Curtiss continued to advance the cause and technology of aviation, founding the first public flying school (1910) and later a chain of schools across the US, inventing the aileron (1909), the dual-control trainer (1911), and the hydroaeroplane (1911).
At the 1910 Dominguez Hills Air Meet he picked up $6,500 in prize moneys in the categories of fastest speed, endurance, and quick starting. That year the Navy contracted for several flying boats, as well as for training Navy fliers, and this led to experiments with airplanes in operations with ships at sea, in which Eugene Ely's first flights to and from USS Pennsylvaniawere harbingers of things to come. In 1914 a large, multi-engine flying boat, America, was built for an Atlantic crossing, but this was cancelled by the outbreak of WW1. However, America's war preparation saw the development of his famous JN-4 "Jenny" and OX-5 motor, and his NC-4 flying boat finally made the first transatlantic flight in 1919.
Because of patent lawsuits and legal battles, by 1918 Curtiss, then 40, had retired from active participation in his company to develop real estate in Florida, but remained on the company roster as a design consultant. He died at 52 from complications after an appendicitis operation, but the Curtiss marque continued with a line of historic aircraft until its doors closed shortly after WW2.
Some major awards were: Scientific American Trophy, 1908, 1909, 1910; Gordon Bennett Trophy, 1910; Collier Trophy, 1912; Langley Medal, 1914.

Glenn L. Martin 1886-1955

At the time he taught himself to fly in 1909 and 1910, Glenn Luther Martin was a youthful businessman, the owner (at age 22) of Ford and Maxwell dealerships in Santa Ana, California. Although he had taken courses at Kansas Wesleyan Business College before his family moved west in 1905, Martin lacked a technical background. His first planes were built in collaboration with mechanics from his auto shop, working in a disused church building that Martin rented. In 1909 Martin made his first successful flight; by 1911 he numbered among the most famous of the "pioneer birdmen." Never forgetting his original business training, Martin was not content with simply performing. In 1912, he set up as a manufacturer, incorporating his operation as the Glenn L. Martin Aircraft Company. Unlike the companies launched by the Wright Brothers and Glenn Curtiss, which soon came to be managed by people other than their namesakes, the Martin Company remained for forty years under the direct control of its founder. During these four critical decades Glenn Martin was the senior aircraft manufacturer in the United States.

From the early years of the company, Martin hired trained engineers to design his planes and talented managers to run his factories. The Martin Company provided training and experience to a remarkable number of other aviation manufacturers who later struck out on their own. William Boeing, Donald Douglas, Lawrence Bell, and James S. McDonnell founded companies that bear their names. Charles Day, chief designer for Standard Aircraft in World War I, and Charles Willard, co-founder of L.W.F. Engineering in 1917, were both former Martin employees as were J.H. Kindleberger and C.A. Van Dusen, who ran North American and Brewster, respectively, during World War II.

Glenn Martin had a taste for large planes, and his company came to depend on military orders. As these pages will testify, this meant bombers. The vast majority of the more than 11,000 planes built by the company before it ceased producing aircraft in 1960, "Martin Bombers" pioneered the doctrine of airpower in the 1920's and '30's and served in all theaters in World War II. Martin Marietta, corporate successor to the Glenn L. Martin Aircraft Company, continued to be a major defense contractor, producing missiles, space hardware, guidance systems, sonar, and avionics. Through its merger with Lockheed in 1995, it rejoined the ranks of aircraft builders.

Clarence Leonard "Kelly" Johnson 1910-1990

Clarence Leonard "Kelly" Johnson (February 27, 1910 – December 21, 1990) was an aircraft engineer and aeronautical innovator. As a member and first team leader of the Lockheed Skunk Works, Johnson worked for more than four decades and is said to have been an 'organizing genius.'[1] He played a leading role in the design of over forty aircraft including several that were honored with the prestigious Collier Trophy. Johnson acquired a reputation as one of the most talented and prolific aircraft design engineers in the history of aviation.
Born to immigrant Swedish parents from the city of Malmö, county of Scania, in the remote mining town of Ishpeming, Michigan, Johnson was 13 years old when he won a prize for his first aircraft design. He worked his way through school, first at Flint Junior College, and then at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.

At Michigan, he conducted a wind tunnel test of Lockheed's proposed twin-engined Lockheed Model 10 Electra airliner. He found that the aircraft did not have adequate directional stability, and proposed adding a "H" tail to address the problem. Lockheed accepted his suggestion and the Model 10 went on to be a success. This brought Johnson to the attention of Lockheed management. Upon completing his master's degree in 1933, Johnson joined the Lockheed Company as a tool designer at a salary of $83 a month. After assignments as flight test engineer, stress analyst, aerodynamicist, and weight engineer, he became chief research engineer in 1938. In 1952, he was appointed chief engineer of Lockheed's Burbank, California plant, which later became the Lockheed-California Company. In 1956 he became Vice President of Research and Development.

Johnson became Vice President of Advanced Development Projects (ADP) in 1958. The first ADP offices were nearly uninhabitable; the stench from a nearby plastic factory was so vile one of the engineers began answering the intra-Lockheed "house" phone "Skonk Works!" Big Barnsmell's Skonk Works– spelled with an "o"– was where Kickapoo Joy Juice was brewed in the comic strip L'il Abner by Al Capp. When the name "leaked" out, Lockheed ordered it changed to "Skunk Works" to avoid potential legal trouble over use of a copyrighted term. The term rapidly circulated throughout the aerospace community, and became a common nickname for research and development offices– however, reference to "The Skunk Works" means the Lockheed ADP shop. Here the F-104 Starfighter, and the secret reconnaissance planes, the U-2 and the SR-71 Blackbird, were developed.

On December 16, 1953, Johnson personally witnessed a UFO, and would later reflect on this experience by saying that "for at least five years I have definitely believed in the possibility that flying saucers exist - this in spite of a good deal of kidding from my technical associates. Having seen this particular object on December 16th, I am now more firmly convinced than ever that such devices exist, and I have some highly technical converts in this belief as of that date.

In 1955, at the request of the Central Intelligence Agency, Johnson initiated construction of the airbase at Groom Lake, Nevada, later known as Area 51. This project provided a secret location for flight testing the U-2.

He served on Lockheed's board of directors from 1964 to 1980, becoming a senior vice president in 1969. He officially retired from Lockheed in 1975 and was succeeded by Ben Rich, but continued as a consultant at the Skunk Works. In June 1983, the Lockheed Rye Canyon Research facility was renamed Kelly Johnson Research and Development Center, Lockheed-California Company, in honor of Johnson's 50 years of service to the company.

Chauncey (Chance) Milton Vought 1890-1930

A young Chance (neé Chauncey) Milton Vought first applied his basic mechanical engineering skills to the 1910 McCormick-Romme Umbrellaplane and the 1911 Blaney Monoplane at Cicero (IL) flying field, neither of which, unfortunately, failed to fly.

However, his craft improved after he learned to fly, earning pilot license #156 in 1912, and gained first-hand experience both in advanced schooling in aeronautical engineering and as an instructor pilot for the Max Lillie School of Aviation, where he was involved in the design of an aircraft of Lillie's concept. He then went on to work for several other aircraft manufacturers for the next five years as a designer, including the Mayo, Curtiss, Wright and Wright-Martin companies, until opportunity suddenly knocked on his door.
When the USA entered WW1 in April 1917, Vought decided to take advantage of the need for trainer aircraft by our fledgling Air Service and, with Birdseye Lewis, formed the Lewis & Vought Corp in June that year. It turned out to be a wise and profitable decision as the company, under various names, would remain in continuous operation ever since then—it was the second oldest airframe manufacturer in the nation, close behind Boeing Co.
Sadly, his participation ended abruptly in 1930 when he died of blood poisoning after a tooth operation at age 42, but the name of Vought stayed on as his monument.

William 'Bill' Edward Boeing 1881-1956

William Edward Boeing was the son of a German immigrant who had built a successful timber business in the Northwest. After graduation from Yale's Sheffield Scientific School, Boeing followed this father in the lumber business, as well as buying a small Seattle boatyard. In 1914 he had his first airplane ride and became interested in the science of aeronautics, took flying lessons from Glenn Martin and bought a seaplane from him. Teaming that year with then-USN Lt Conrad Westervelt, they designed and built the B&W, based partly on the Martin. When Westervelt was recalled by the Navy in 1916, Boeing formed Pacific Aero Products Co, and changed its name to the Boeing Airplane Co in 1917. As well as producing a few of is own designs, the new company profited by producing Thomas-Morse Scouts under contract for the Army and rebuilding De Havilland DH-4s with welded steel-tube fuselages—the first American company to use welded tubes.Boeing Co prospered and dwelt heavily on research, producing a series of innovative civil and military aircraft through the '20s and '30s. In addition, he established his Boeing Air Transport for the San Francisco-Chicago passenger and mail route in 1927—the first airline to offer stewardesses—which served as a basis for United Air Lines in 1930. The United Aircraft & Transport Corp resulted from Boeing's formation in 1929 of his operations with the Pratt & Whitney, Hamilton, Stearman, and Vought companies, all of which continued to make products under their own names. However, in 1934 the government considered UATC a monoply and ordered it broken up, at which time Boeing announced his retirement. In 1934 he was also awarded the Guggenheim medal for his part in pioneering and for achievements in aviation and air transportation. Despite official retirement, he remained active in his company's development, contributing to aircraft designs, even returning during WW2 to help reorganize the workforce to build B-17 and B-29 bombers.

Jack Northrop 1895-1981

John Knudsen Northrop's family moved to Santa Barbara CA in 1914, where he developed an deep interest in aeronautics in high school. In 1916 he had went to work for the Loughead Brothers as an engineering draftsman, contributing to the design of their twin-engine F-1 flying boat.

Moving in 1916 to Douglas Co in Santa Monica, he went from draftsman to designer to project engineer on several early Douglas aircraft. The next major move came in 1927, when he went with Lockheed, there designing the original Vega. However, needing to develop his own ideas about all-metal airplanes, he struck off on his own in 1929 to form Northrop Aircraft Co, there producing the Alpha, an airplane that was regarded as well ahead of its time. Following the success of Alpha, he developed the all-metal design into Beta, Delta, and Gamma.

Northrop Corporation was formed in 1932, and became a subsidiary of Douglas, to produce his designs of the USAC A-17 attack planes for and USN BT-1 dive bombers, as well as export models for foreign countries. In 1938 he sold his interests in the corporation to Douglas and formed Northrop Aircraft Inc, becoming its president and chief engineer until his retirement in 1952. There, in addition to many successful military aircraft, he developed his pet flying-wing project, the visionary concept of which, stalled by bureaucracy at the time, finally proved its value in our present stealth aircraft designs.

Jack Northrop was a widely-known and well-respected name in aviation by that time, and he was awarded the Presidential Certificate of Merit for his "extraordinary contributions to the nation's defense in World War 2." He presided over the Institute of Aeronautical Sciences in 1946, and became an honorary fellow in its successor organization, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and a fellow of the Royal Aeronautics Society. In 1947 he received the St Louis Medal from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers for "meretorious service in the advancement of aeronautics."
Investiture in the International Aerospace Hall of Fame came in 1972 and in the Aviation Hall of Fame in 1974

Igor Ivanovich Sikorsky 1889-1972

Learning of the works of the Wright brothers and Count Zeppelin, Igor Sikorsky's interest in aviation was kindled as a boy. Graduated from Petrograd Naval College, studied engineering in Paris, returned to Kiev in 1907 to enter Polytechnical Institute. In 1909, he went back to Paris—then the aeronautical center of Europe—to learn more about the fascinating science of flight. Having learned what he could of aviation as it was then known in Europe, he bought an Anzani engine and went home to begin construction a rotary-wing aircraft.

His first attempts failed due to a lack of power and an understanding of the complex rotary-wing art. Undaunted, he turned his efforts to conventional aircraft and found success with the S-2, the second airplane of his design and construction. His fifth airplane, the S-5, brought him national recognition as well as FAI pilot license Number 64. In 1912 his S-6-A received the highest award at
Moscow's Aviation Exhibition, and that year his aircraft won first prize in military competitions at Petrograd. This led to a position as head of the aviation subsidiary of the Russian Baltic Railroad Car Works, where, as a result of clogged carburetor and subsequent engine failure, he conceived the idea of an aircraft having more than one engine—a radical idea at the time. The result of this was an engineering project that gave the world its first multi-engine airplane, the four-engined "Grand." This revolutionary aircraft also offered an enclosed cabin, upholstered chairs, lavatory, even an exterior catwalk on the fuselage where passengers could walk while in flight.

There followed an even bigger aircraft, Ilia Mourometz, named for a legendary tenth-century folk hero. More than 70 military versions of the Ilia Mourometz were built for use as bombers during The World War. The Revolution ended Mr. Sikorsky's career in Russian aviation, and he emigrated to
France, then to the USA in 1919. Unable to find a position in aviation he resorted to teaching and lecturing in New York, mostly to fellow emigrants. Then some students and friends who knew of his reputation in Russia pooled their resources in 1923 to fund the Sikorsky Aero Engineering Corporation.

The first product from the young and financially shaky concern was the S-29-A ("A" for
America), a twin-engine, all-metal transport which proved a forerunner of the modern airliner. Other aircraft designs followed, but the company achieved its most notable success with the twin-engine S-38 amphibian, which Pan American Airways used to open air routes to Central and South America. Later, as a subsidiary of United Aircraft Corporation, the company produced luxurious Flying Clippers which pioneered commercial air transportation across both oceans. The last Sikorsky flying boat, S-44, would for years hold the record for fastest transatlantic flight.

The dormant concept of the helicopter resurfaced, and Sikorsky turned once again to notes and sketches he had jotted down ideas for possible designs, some of which were patented. On
Sep 14, 1939, he took his VS-300 a few feet off the ground to give the western hemisphere its first practical helicopter, the child from which today's helicopter industry grew. Military contracts followed and, in 1943, large-scale manufacture made the R-4 the world's first production helicopter.

Awards and honors accorded to Igor Sikorsky would fill many pages, and include the National Medal of Science, the Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy, the Collier Trophy, the
USAF Academy's Thomas D White National Defense Award, the Guggenheim Medal, and the Royal Aeronautical Society's Silver Medal. He was inducted into the Aviation Hall of Fame in 1968.Even after his retirement in 1957 at age 68, Sikorsky continued to work as an engineering consultant for his company, and was at his desk the day before he died.

Leroy Randle Grumman 1895-1982