Saturday, March 2, 2013

A Tribute to Kelly Johnson

I saw his genius in action
by Irwin W.

I worked in engineering at Lockheed Burbank from February 1951 to February 1974. I supported many projects, including the P2V-4, P2V -5 and P2V -6; the L-1049 G Super Constellation; the L-1649 Starliner; the P-3 Orion; the C-141 Starlifter; the L-2000; the high L/D re-entry vehicle project; and the S-3 Viking.

I remember one remarkable day in the mid-1950s. I was viewing some loft drawings of the L-1649 Starliner, when Kelly Johnson came on the design floor and suggested, with a freehand sketch, how the nose cone of the fuselage should be changed to look like. As soon as he left the conversation, the engineer laid his spline and ducks (drafting tools of those days) on the freehand sketch and it became the final contour. This was certainly a tribute to Kelly and statement of what engineers thought of him.