John Leland Atwood

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John Leland Atwood
Atwood, John Leland Lee (4727962288).jpg
Born (1904-11-26)November 26, 1904
Walton, Kentucky
Died March 5, 1999(1999-03-05) (aged 94)
Other names Lee Atwood
Education Hardin-Simmons University
Title Chief Engineer at North American Aviation
Predecessor Dutch Kindelberger

John Leland Atwood (October 26, 1904 – March 5, 1999) was a prominent engineer and executive in the aerospace industry. He worked as Chief Engineer/Executive at North American Aviation for over 35 years, succeeding Dutch Kindelberger as President and CEO. He developed the P-51 Mustang during World War II, the F-100 jet fighter, the X-15 rocket plane, and oversaw the Apollo program.[1]


He was born in Walton, Kentucky, on October 26, 1904, to Reverend Dr. Elmer Bugg Atwood and Mabel Bagby Atwood. His younger brother was the linguist Elmer Bagby Atwood.

He was on the cover of Newsweek magazine, December 21, 1964; the cover title was "Apollo and the Moon Men - North American's Lee Atwood."

He died on March 5, 1999.


In the HBO series From the Earth to the Moon, Atwood was portrayed by Ronny Cox. The Atwood Dorm at Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, California, was named after him. In 1984, he was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame.


  1. ^ "John Leland Atwood". Boeing. Archived from the original on 2012-10-29. Retrieved 2012-10-27. John Leland (Lee) Atwood joined North American Aviation Inc. in 1934, one year before the firm moved from Dundalk, Maryland, to Southern California. He previously worked at Douglas Aircraft in Southern California, builder of such venerable transports as the DC-3, so he would cross the country twice in a short time. ... 

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