Lawrence Bell

Lawrence Bell (1894-1956) left high school at the age of sixteen to follow his brother into the airplane industry. Two years later, he became shop foreman in the mechanical division of the Glenn L. Martin Company, making him familiar with every aspect of the manufacture of airplanes, especially their engines. He quickly ascended the ranks at Martin, becoming vice president and general manager by 1925, but he resigned soon after to join the Consolidated Aircraft Corporation team. He remained with Consolidated for seven years, but when the company moved to California in 1935, he stayed behind, instead forming the Bell Aircraft Corporation with two of his Consolidated associates. Over the next decade-and-a-half, Bell received numerous contracts for various types of planes, but the achievement for which his firm is best known, was the design of the Bell X-1, the vehicle that broke the sound barrier on October 14, 1947. See "Lawrence Bell," biographical file, NASA Historical Reference Collection.


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Updated September 18, 1997

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