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Colley, Russell (22 July 1897–04 February 1996), inventor, designer, and aeronautical engineer, was born Russell Sidney Colley in Stoneham, Mass., the son of Frank S. Colley, a druggist, and Florence Vesta Hopkins Colley. Russell spent several summers in high school serving as an apprentice electrician. After he revealed his desire to become a women's fashion designer, his art teacher directed him out of her freehand drawing class into what she considered more appropriate, a mechanical drawing class. He was accepted into Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston, Massachusetts, and in 1918 completed the two-year machine construction and tool design course....

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Lockheed, Malcolm (1887–13 August 1958), aircraft engineer and inventor, was born Malcolm Loughead in Niles, California, the son of John Loughead, a hardware store owner, and Flora Haines, a fruit grower and writer. (He later started using a phonetic spelling of his Scottish name, which people had persisted in pronouncing “log-head” or “loaf-head.”) His mother, long separated from her husband, was a college graduate and a former schoolteacher who supported her family by growing and marketing fruit and writing feature articles for the ...

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Piccard, Jean Félix (28 January 1884–28 January 1963), aeronautical engineer and chemist noted for his stratospheric balloon flights, was born in Basel, Switzerland. He and his twin brother, Auguste Piccard, were the sons of Jules Piccard, a chemist, and Hélène Haltenhoff. Their careers and activities were joined, although for much of their lives they were thousands of miles apart. They both enjoyed an excellent education, graduating from the Obere Realschule in 1902 and attending the Swiss Institute of Technology in Zurich, one of the best universities in the country. Their father, a professor of chemistry and head of the department at the University of Basel, had no difficulty ensuring their attendance at this school. They graduated in 1907, Jean with a degree in chemical engineering, and both went on to graduate work at the institute, where in 1909 they received doctorates; Jean’s was in organic chemistry....

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Warner, Edward Pearson (09 November 1894–12 July 1958), aeronautical engineer and aviation consultant, was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the son of Robert Lyon Warner, an electrical engineer, and Ann Pearson. Warner was raised in a professional environment—his father had been educated at Cornell—and attended the elite Volkmann School in Boston after his father accepted a position in Cambridge. Early in his education, Warner displayed a remarkable aptitude for mathematics, and since he was interested in aviation he turned his attention to solving the problems of flight. In 1911 he and a friend won a soaring competition in Boston, Warner designing the glider and his friend piloting it. Warner attended Harvard University, receiving a B.A. in engineering with honors in 1916. He then pursued additional work at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), earning a B.S. and then an M.A. in 1919....