Science: A Farewell to Kelly Johnson

So many top Air Force officers descended on Dayton's Wright-Patterson Air Force Base that a bystander asked: "Who's back at the Pentagon running the shop?" Replied Air Force Chief of Staff General David Jones: "Even more would have come if they could have got away." The beribboned brass hats were there to honor the one man above all others who gave the U.S. Air Force its unchallenged technological superiority: Lockheed Aircraft's famed design chief, Clarence ("Kelly") Johnson, perhaps the most successful aviation innovator since Orville and Wilbur Wright.

Skunk Works. Johnson, who retires this...

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