Mr Mac

A young man nicknamed Mac was born on April 9th 1899 in the city of Denver Colorado. James Smith McDonald was raised in Little Rock, Arkansas, and after graduation from Little Rock High School in 1917, Mac left Arkansas for Princeton University where he graduated class of 1921, then going on to earn a Master's of Science in Aeronautical Engineering from MIT in 1925.
 
After graduation, Mac worked for a couple of aircraft manufactures, but was never satisfied working for anyone but himself. Mac’s dream was to found his own aviation company, and with the help of two other engineers, Mac set out to design his very first aircraft with his own company name. The design he was working on would then be entered in a safe airplane contest sponsored by the Daniel Guggenheim Fund for the Promotion of Aeronautics and offered a hefty $100,000 prize for the winning aircraft design.
 
Mac threw everything he had into designing a tandem-seat low wing taildragger with a fabric covered steel tube fuselage, that most interestingly featured full-length leading-edge slats. He called it “TheDoodlebug”
 
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The Doodlebug production was slower than expected, and was completed too late to be entered. Thankfully Mac was granted an exemption, and the Doodlebug was allowed to compete. Unfortunately during the initial demonstration of his proud creation at Mitchel Field in New York, the aircraft's tail folded upward, causing extensive damage.
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Mac received more extensions to repair damages, but his misfortune would sadly continue as an engine failure, and forced landing during a subsequent demonstration flight put the Doodlebug out of the running, missing the opportunity to be judged in the competition. Mac, now suffering from a painful back injury from the forced landing, out of the contest, and an aircraft that quickly became a most difficult sell in the times of the Great Depression , there was little else that could be done. The Doodlebug was sold to the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, Mac dissolved his firm, and along with it, the dreams of a company with his own name.
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A full 10 years after his demise in the aeronautical industry with his ill timed Doodlebug, Mac founded the McDonnell Aircraft Corporation in 1939. Now headquartered in St. Louis, the company bearing his name, quickly grew from 15 employees in 1939 to 5,000 at the end of the war, and became a significant aircraft parts supplier, ultimately introducing revolutionary aircraft like the XP-67 Bat Fighter, FH-1 Phantom, F2H Banshee, F3H Demon, and the F-101 Voodoo, and with the help of David S. Lewis, who had joined the company as Chief of Aerodynamics in 1946, led the development of the legendary F-4 Phantom II, known as the Louisville Slugger, the Lead Sled, and the Double Ugly, but most famously as the Worlds Largest Distributor of MiG Parts.
 
Now better known as Mr. Mac, founder of  McDonnell Aircraft Corporation become the largest supplier to both the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Navy. Even designing and building the Mercury and Gemini space capsules that allowed NASA’s astronauts to usher in the next phase of aviation and space development.
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In 1966, Douglas Aircraft officially merged with McDonnell Aircraft Corporation, and on April 28, 1967, the McDonnell Douglas Corporation (MDC), kept itself based at McDonnell's home facility in St. Louis.
 
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Mac passed away August 22 1980 in his beloved city of St Louis. McDonnell Douglas would finally merge with Boeing's defence and space division in August 1997,  and remains at the old McDonnell facility in St. Louis, where for a young aviation pioneer, engineer, and businessman named Mac, once had a dream of a company with his name on it...
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