Jack Northrop

Jack Northrop

Jack Northrop was an American aircraft industrialist and designer who founded the Northrop Corporation in 1939. He was born on November 10, 1895, in Newark, New Jersey. His career began in 1916 as a draftsman for Loughead Aircraft Manufacturing Company (founded 1912). He joined the Douglas Aircraft Company in 1923, where he became a project engineer. In 1927 he joined the Lockheed Corporation, where he was a chief engineer on the Lockheed Vega transport. He left in 1929 to found Avion Corporation, which he sold in 1930. Two years later, he founded the Northrop Corporation.

Northrop's first job in aviation was working as a draftsman for the Santa Barbara-based Loughead Aircraft Manufacturing Company in 1916. After the outbreak of the First World War, Northrop was drafted into the U.S Army, where he served in the Army Signal Corps. Northrop served in the military for 6 months before Loughead successfully petitioned for his return to work in the private sector.

In 1923, Northrop joined Douglas Aircraft Company, participating in the design of the Douglas Round-the-World-Cruiser and working up to project engineer. In 1927 he rejoined the Loughead brothers and their newly founded (in 1926) Lockheed Aircraft Company, working as chief engineer on the Lockheed Vega.

In 1929, Northrop struck out on his own, founding the Avion Corporation. This company worked on new wing design structures and was bought by United Aircraft and Transport Corporation in 1930. In 1932, Northrop founded another company, the Northrop Corporation in El Segundo, California. This company built two highly successful monoplanes, the Northrop Gamma and Northrop Delta. By 1939 the Northrop Corporation had become a subsidiary of Douglas Aircraft, so Northrop founded another completely independent company of the same name in Hawthorne, California.

While working at this company, Northrop focused on the flying wing design. He retired in 1952 at the age of 57.