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[Kelly Johnson in 1960s at his desk.(LMSW)]

Clarence "Kelly" Johnson

[Kelly Johnson in 1960s.(LMSW)] In 1933, a 23 year old Clarence (Kelly) Johnson joined Lockheed Martin for $83 a month as a tool desinger after earning a master's degree in aeronautical engineering from the University of Michigan. Johnson had impressed Lockheed management as a graduate student by testing examples of the twin engine Lockheed Model 10 Electra trasport through grants. Through those test in the university's wind tunnel, Johnson found faults with the design of the entire empanage area that later resulted in major design changes. Five years later, Kelly became Lockheed's chief research engineer. In 194? he designed the P-38 Lightning, one of the most succesful Allied aircraft of World War II.

[Kelly Johnson's Business Card.(Author)] In 1943, Johnson created the design team for the United State's first operational jet-The XP-80. Johnson's team had 6 months to deliver a prototype. They delivered the XP-80 37 days ahead of schedule. Johnson's innovative aproach to rapid prototyping was to become what the world knows today as the Skunk Works.

[Kelly Johnson being presented the National Security Medal in 1983.(LMSW)] Kelly Johnson played a leading role in the design of over 40 aircraft and won every major aircraft design award in the industry. Kelly Johnson recieved an unprecedented two Colier Trophies (the highest honor in Aerospace), two Theodore von Karmen Awards, the Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy, two Sylvanus Albert Reed Awards, and the Danial Guggenheim Medal. In 1964, President Lyndon Johnson presented him the nation's highest civilain honor, the Medal of Freedom. President Ronald Reagan honored him with the National Security Medal in 1983 and the National Medal of Technology in 1988. Johnsoin was enshrined in the Aviation Hall of Fame in 1983, and during the same year, he was featured on the television program "60 Minutes".

[On the day founder Kelly Johnson died, the Skunk cried. (LMSW)] In 1985 his autobiography "Kelly: More Than My Share of It All" was published by the Smithsonian Institution. Kelly Johnson once said "I consider myself very fortunate to have lived my professional life doing exactly what I always wanted to do."

In 1975, Kelly Johnson retired from Lockheed as a corporate vice president, leaving his personal understudy Ben Rich to head the Skunk Works. Johnson resigned from the corporate board of directors in 1980, but continued on as a senior advisor until his death. On December 22, 1990 Kelly Johnson, the founder of Skunk Works died at the age of 80.

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