While cruising through the Chicago Museum of Science and Technology, I ran into a few aircraft manufacturers that I did not recognize. It got me thinking about what happened to the many aircraft manufacturers from the early days of aviation history and how they all became the few that we know today. Let’s start with Lockheed Martin.
1912 – Allan and Malcolm Loughead (pronounced “Lock-heed”) founded the Alco-Hydro Aeroplane Company
1916 – Company renamed Loughead Aircraft Manufacturing Company. (Hire a drafter named Jack Northrop)
1921 – Company closes down over poor sales vs. cheap, surplus WWI aircraft
1926 – Allan Loughead, Jack Northrop, and Kenneth Jay reform company, with phonetic spelling of Loughead’s name: The Lockheed Aircraft Company.
1928 – Jack and Kenneth leave to create Avion Corporation
1929 – The majority investor sold 87% of the company’s stock to Detroit Aircraft Corporation
1929 – Allan leaves the company
1929 – Great Depression – Detroit Aircraft Corporation goes bankrupt
1932 – Lockheed is in receivership. Allen Loughead raises $50,000 to attempt a buy, but gives up, thinking it isn’t enough. A group of investors (including Walter Varney), buy the corporation for $40,000.
1961 – Already world leader in aviation, they purchase Grand Central Rocket Company
1977 – Company renamed Lockheed Corporation
1993 – Buys the aircraft manufacturing division of General Dynamics
1995 – Merges with Martin Marietta and becomes Lockheed Martin
2015 – Buys Sikorsky from UTC
Notable achievements of Lockheed include the Model 10 Electra (Amelia Earhart‘s airplane), the P-38 Lightning (the only U.S. fighter to be in production for the entire length of WWII), the P-80 Shooting Star (first U.S. jet to shoot down another jet), the F-104 (first Mach 2 fighter in the world), the SR-71 (pictured above: fastest air breathing manned aircraft in history), the UGM-27 Polaris (first U.S. submarine launched ballistic missle in service), and the F-117 Nighthawk (world’s first operational stealth aircraft). This is alongside the C-130 Hercules, C-141 Starlifter and the C-5 Galaxy, which are the backbone of U.S. military airlift capacity for decades.
Next time, we’ll talk about Lockheed’s sister, Martin!