Facebook Twitter Instagram Linked In
Clarence Leonard (Kelly) Johnson

Johnson, Clarence Leonard

Aeronautical Engineer
Enshrined 1974 1910 – 1990



That was the credo of Clarence L. (Kelly) Johnson who was born in Ishpeming, Michigan on February 27, 1910.

After receiving his masters degree in aeronautical engineering, “Kelly” Johnson joined the Lockheed Aircraft Corporation in 1933.  He helped design the “Orion 9D” and create the all-metal model 10 and model 12 “Electra” airliners, the pressurized cabin XC-35 aircraft, the model 14 “Super Electra”, and the “Hudson” bomber.

Appointed chief research engineer in 1938, Johnson helped develop the P-38 “lightning” interceptor, the model 18 “Lodestar, the B-37, “Ventura, and PV-1 Bombers, and the “constellation” airliners.  During World War II, he created the P-80 “Shooting Star”, the first U. S. jet fighter in service, and the P2V “Neptune” patrol Bomber.  After the war, he designed the “Constitution” transport, the X-7 ramjet test plane, the T-33 and TV-2 jet trainers, and the F-94 “starfire” interceptor. He received the Collier Trophy for his Mach 2 F-104 “Starfighter.”

Named chief engineer in 1952, he developed the XFV-1, vertical takeoff plane and the T2V “Seastar” jet trainer.  As Vice President of Research and Development, Johnson created the C-130 “Hercules” turbojet transport, the high altitude U-2, and the C-140 “Jetstar” transport.  Promoted to Vice President-Advanced Development Projects in 1958, Johnson helped develop the Agena D space satellite, and then created the Mach3-YF-12A interceptor and SR-71 reconnaissance “Blackbird” aircraft.  For this he received the Collier Trophy.  Johnson became a member of Lockheed’s Board of Directors in 1964 and Senior Vice President in 1969.

Clarence Leonard “Kelly” Johnson, for outstanding contributions to aviation by his innovative technical concepts that significantly advanced the science of aircraft design, performance, and reliability and helped achieve supersonic and space flight, he was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame on December 14, 1947 at Dayton, Ohio, the “Birthplace of Aviation.”

Johnson died December 21, 1990 at age 80 at St. Joseph Medical Center, after an illness that lasted for several years.  He is buried at Forest Lawn Cemetery, Los Angeles, California.