David S. Lewis

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David Lewis, 1983

David Sloan Lewis, Jr. (July 6, 1917 – December 15, 2003) was an aeronautical engineer who led aerospace and defense giant General Dynamics for 14 years.

Early life[edit]

David Lewis was born in 1917, in North Augusta, South Carolina.[1] As a child, he loved to read aviation books and build model aircraft.

Lewis attended the University of South Carolina, and transferred to Georgia Tech for his last two years. He graduated in 1939 with a degree in aeronautical engineering.[1] While at Georgia Tech, he was a member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity.[citation needed]


Key figures in the F-4 development: David Lewis, Robert Little and Herman Barkley

After college Lewis began his work career at the Glenn L. Martin Company. Then in 1946, he moved to McDonnell Aircraft Company and became chief of aerodynamics.[2][3] He was the program manager for the highly successful F-4 Phantom II jet fighter.[4]

Following the merger of McDonnell and Douglas Aircraft Company in 1967, David Lewis served as president of McDonnell Douglas until 1970.[5][6]

Lewis became the head of General Dynamics in 1970. He was influential in having the F-16 design team choose the Pratt & Whitney F100 turbofan engine following his experience with the engine in the McDonnell Douglas F-15 fighter. He remained head of the company until he retired in 1986, following pressure from a congressional subcommittee investigating fraud at General Dynamics, specifically the Electric Boat Division involving submarine contracts and cost overruns.[7] Upon his retirement, the investigation was halted and he remained on the board of directors through 1993. He also served on the Board of Directors for Ralston Purina and Meade Paper Company, as well as the Board Executive Committee for Bank of America.[citation needed]

Lewis received numerous national and international awards for his contribution to the field of aeronautics, including the Robert J. Collier Trophy in 1975, the Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz Award in 1981, the Daniel Guggenheim Medal in 1982, and the Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy in 1984. Lewis was inducted into the South Carolina Business Hall of Fame in 2000.[8] He was a member of the Georgia Tech Council of Distinguished Engineering Graduates and a trustee emeritus of the Georgia Tech and Washington University Foundations.[9] He was named a Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and the National Academy of Engineering.[10]

Personal life[edit]

Lewis was married to his wife, Dorothy, for 62 years. They had four children.[1]


  1. ^ a b c Martin, Douglas (December 18, 2003). "David S. Lewis, 86, Executive Who Led General Dynamics". The New York Times. Retrieved 9 July 2010.
  2. ^ "David S. Lewis, Jr., Former Chairman of General Dynamics, Dies at 86". General Dynamics, December 17, 2003
  3. ^ "Corporations: The Colonel's Second Battle". Time, November 2, 1970.
  4. ^ "Testing the F-4 Phantom II". Caltech, 1989.
  5. ^ Yenne, Bill. McDonnell Douglas, p. 189. Crescent Books, 1985. ISBN 0-517-44287-6.
  6. ^ Boeing History 1964 - 1970 Archived 2011-05-24 at the Wayback Machine. Boeing.
  7. ^ UPI. "Defense Firm`s Chairman to Quit". Chicago Tribune, May 23, 1985.
  8. ^ "Legacy of Leadership, South Carolina Business Hall of Fame". South Carolina Business Hall of Fame, 2000
  9. ^ "Obituary: David Lewis, emeritus trustee, 86". Washington University, St. Louis
  10. ^ "National Academy of Engineering Members Directory". National Academy of Engineering, 2003

External links[edit]