John Leland "Lee" Atwood
North American Aviation, Inc., 1926
Lee Atwood was born in Walton, Kentucky on October 26, 1904. Atwood came to Simmons University in 1925. While at Simmons,
he met and married Allene Goodnight. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in
Mathematics from Simmons in 1926 andthen moved on to study at the University of Texas, where in 1928 he
received a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering.
He began his career as a design engineer at
Douglas Aircraft Company before helping found what would become North American
Aviation, Inc.Subsequently, he rose to
become president, chief executive officer, and chairman of the company.
Atwood’s career was
not only parallel to many of the significant events in aerospace history, his
leadership helped to shape them. His technical skill was the force behind the
company’s evolution into the aviation and space leader that produced more
military aircraft than any other company. During World War II, he worked to
produce the P-51 Mustang and the B-25 Mitchell bomber. North American
eventually merged with Rockwell of Pittsburgh to become Rockwell International.
During this time, Atwood oversaw the production of the Space Shuttle and the
Under his leadership, North American Rockwell
captured three Collier Trophies for work on the F-100 supersonic fighter, the
X-15 spaceplane, and the B-1 bomber. Atwood also received several individual
awards, including: a Presidential Certificate of Merit from President Truman
for his contributions during WWII, the Honorary Fellow for the American
Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics in 1965, NASA’s Public Service Award,
the Air Force Association’s Hap Arnold Trophy in 1970, the Wright Brothers Memorial
Trophy in 1970, membership into the National Academy of Engineering in 1974,
and induction into the International Aerospace Hall of Fame and the
International Academy of Astronautics.
Lee Atwood died on
March 5, 1999.
Inducted on April 5, 2002.