Learning Center Our Enshrinees

Benjamin “Ben” Robert Rich

  • Built his first airplane “Piper Cub” at age 14.
  • Rich joined Lockheed in 1950 working on aerodynamics, thermodynamic, propulsion and preliminary design of the F-104, U-2, YF-12 and SR-71 and numerous other technically innovative projects of Skunk Works.
  • Recommended painting aircraft black to eliminate some of the heat after experiencing a heat problem with a new Mach 3 plane. The new aircraft became known as the “Blackbird family” of reconnaissance planes, the fastest and highest flying jets in the world at that time.
  • Named senior engineer for advanced programs at Lockheed in 1963.
  • Selected by Kelly Johnson (enshrined 1974) to be the new “Chief Skunk” in 1975.
  • Spearheaded the development of the stealth technology with the F-117.
  • Rich and the entire Lockheed Air Force team won the 1989 Collier Trophy for the production and deployment of the F-117A Stealth Fighter.
  • Elected as the “San Fernando Valley Engineer of the Year” in 1981, named UCLA’s Alumnus Engineer of the Year in 1982, and elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1989.
  • Worked on more than two-dozen aircraft programs, including some that didn’t make it and on others that would become famous.

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