Tuesday, April 30, 2013


I learned about a hard-driving, genial style
by Norman B.

When I employed at Lockheed in Sunnyvale, California, Gene Root was president of the missile division. In 1962, Gene also was president of the Institute of Aeronautical Sciences (IAS), the vintage professional organization for airplane flight. He and William Pickering of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and president of the American Rocket Society agreed the two organizations should merge to become the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA).

When Gene was president of IAS, I served as chair of the San Francisco section. When it became evident that Gene was leading the merger effort on behalf of IAS personally, my council members were asked to start “talking -it-up.” Council members thought the merger should occur, and readily agreed to start immediately informing section members why the merger should occur.

Soon after this promotional council meeting, Gene got to me personally with the request that our section should promote the merger. “Already started,” he was told. Gene said, “You are the first person to give me what I wanted before I asked for it!” My reply was “Gene I didn’t want you stepping on my heels.” His retort was, “Norm, you have not had your heels stepped on until you have had them stepped on by Dan Haughton.” Mr. Haughton was president of Lockheed Aircraft Corporation. I’ll never forget that conversation!