Thursday, 17 May 2007

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.