Why Lockheed aeroplanes have curves
where others have straight lines.

Robert Gross named it the Electra, in honor of the first aircraft designed by his firm, and bestowed his direct creative input on it. Statler tells a story of Gross coming around, as was his habit, to look over the engineers' shoulders. Statler had a three view of the Electra on his board; at that time the vertical surface of the aircraft was squared off. Gross looked at it and said, 'It looks too much like a DC-7. Do you have one of those curvy things?' Statler opened his desk drawer and took out a French curve, which Gross then used to change the tip of the vertical surface to an elliptical shape. When he'd gone, Statler put a note on the drawing that read,

This vertical tail contour drawn by Robert Gross. Don't anybody ever change.

Extracted from "Beyond the Horizons - The Lockheed Story"
by Walter J. Boyne (St. Martin's Press, New York 1998):


Robert Gross was a highly respected, and indeed revered, President of Lockheed. Bill Statler was one of the Electra design team who clearly shared this view for he welcomed with obvious pride that which a professional engineer might otherwise regard as insufferable interference. Although this anecdote sounds like the stuff of urban myth, author Walt Boyne quotes the story from first hand sources.

Return to the Electra Menu

Return to the Lockheed File