John Leland Atwood

National Medal of Technology and Innovation

Aerospace

For distinguished leadership, technical competence and integrity in the technological advancement of aviation and space travel.

For distinguished leadership, technical competence and integrity in the technological advancement of aviation and space travel.

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Birth
November 26, 1904
Age Awarded
84
Country of Birth
USA
Key Contributions
P-51 Mustang
X-15
Oversaw The Apollo Program
Awarded by
Ronald Wilson Reagan
Education
University of Texas
Hardin Simmons University
Areas of Impact
Transportation
Affiliations
Rockwell International Corporation
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Leaders in the aerospace industry describe John Leland Atwood as "a chief engineer's chief engineer." His technical competence was the driving force behind the evolution of North American Aviation into an aviation and space leader that produced more military aircraft than any other company to date.

His company shaped the face of military aviation, engineering many of the best fighter, bomber and experimental aircrafts, including the swift, agile World War II P-51 Mustang, which accounted for almost half the enemy aircraft downed in Europe during World War II.

Through his vision and managerial skills, Atwood established the company as an indispensable national asset in new high-technology fields, such as rocket propulsion, intercontinental ballistic missiles. Among Atwood’s greatest technological achievements are the Apollo spacecraft, allowing astronauts to walk on the moon, and the development of the Space Shuttle that continues to be used today.  

By Jen Santisi

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