Superlatives are hardly necessary to describe the career of aviation pioneer Edward Heinemann. His airplanes do all the talking for him.
A-4 Skyhawk. Skyrocket. Dauntless.
Each are among the aircraft designed by Heinemann that claim top shelf status in aviation history. The Dauntless dive bomber was the star of the World War II Battles of Midway and Coral Sea, helping the Allies win the war. His Skyrocket was the first plane to go twice the speed of sound. And for many years his A-4 Skyhawk was the aircraft of choice for the U.S. Navy’s famous Blue Angels acrobat flying squad.
Adm. Thomas H. Moorer, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, once summed up Heinemann’s career with a nickname: “No one better deserves the title ‘Mr. Attack Aviation.’’’
Heinemann, who wrote several books and advised five U.S. presidents during his storied career, was largely a self-taught engineer. He worked for several companies before becoming chief engineer at Douglas Aircraft in 1936. He remained with the company until 1960, and later became a vice president of engineering at General Dynamics.
He is in the National Aviation Hall of Fame.
By Robert Warren