Clarence L. Johnson

National Medal of Technology and Innovation

Aerospace

For his outstanding achievements in the design of a series of commercial, military, and reconnaissance aircraft that incorporated a wide range of technological advancements, and for his innovative management techniques which helped develop and produce these aircraft in record time and at a minimum cost.

National Medal of Science

Engineering

For bold innovations in the use of materials and in the design of aircraft of unusual configurations that pioneered new vistas for the possibility of flight

For his outstanding achievements in the design of a series of commercial, military, and reconnaissance aircraft that incorporated a wide range of technological advancements, and for his innovative management techniques which helped develop and produce these aircraft in record time and at a minimum cost.

For bold innovations in the use of materials and in the design of aircraft of unusual configurations that pioneered new vistas for the possibility of flight

VIEW STATISTICS +

Birth
February 27, 1910
Age Awarded
78 (Technology)
55 (Science)
Country of Birth
USA
Key Contributions
Performance Jet Fighter Wwii (P-83)
Performance Jet Fighter Wwii (P-83)
Foundation For Skunkworks
Construction Of Area 51
Brand New Approaches To Airplanes
Awarded by
Ronald Wilson Reagan (Technology)
Lyndon Baines Johnson (Science)
Education
University of Michigan
Flint Junior College
Areas of Impact
Transportation
Affiliations
Lockheed Martin Corporation
Other Prizes
National Inventors Hall of Fame
Presidential Medal of Freedom
I

In grade school, Clarence L. Johnson broke the leg of a bully who dared to call him “Clara.”

The trouncing earned him the tougher nickname “Kelly” – a moniker that survived a career of confronting challenges.

Johnson was known for his gall.

In his first weeks at Lockheed, the former Michigan farm boy marched into his boss’ office and flagged errors in the company’s new aircraft, the Electra. In 1938, Johnson, then 28, spent 72 sleepless hours designing a new plane to help Great Britain prepare for war.

He is credited with designing the first 400 MPH aircraft, the P-38 Lightning. His secret group of engineers – called Skunk Works – spent nine months developing the world’s first spy plane, the U-2.

A demanding leader, Johnson didn’t tolerate making the same error twice, often holding his employees to the same perfectionistic motto he lived by himself:

“Be quick, be quiet, be on time.”

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