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Tigers: Tracking a Legend
George M. Skurla
George Skurla was born in Newark, N.J., on July 2, 1921 and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Aeronautical Engineering from the University of Michigan in 1944.
After completing his college training, Skurla joined Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation as an apprentice engineer. After an apprenticeship in the production shop, he served in the stress and research departments before being appointed chief of structural flight test in 1950.
After a four-year assignment as chief engineer for Aerobilt Bodies, Inc., a division of Grumman, he returned to the parent firm in 1960, serving as manager of corporate commercial product development, and later as assistant director of flight test.
In 1965, he became director of operations for Grumman at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Kennedy Space Center. In that position, he brought together the 1,600-man Grumman team responsible for the final assembly, test and pre-launch checkout for the Apollo lunar module vehicle.
The LM spacecraft, which was designed, developed and produced by Grumman, was the final stage in NASA's Apollo Program which landed American astronauts on the surface of the moon. Skurla was elected a vice president February, 1970, before returning to Bethpage, N.Y. as director of product engineering for all aircraft and spacecraft programs.
In June of 1973 he was named general manager of operations at Grumman's Calverton facility on Long Island, the major final assembly and test site for the F-14 Tomcat fighter, EA-6B Prowler and A-6E Intruder aircraft.
In 1974 Skurla was elected president and chief operating officer of Grumman Aerospace Corporation. In 1976 he became chairman of the board and chief executive officer. Mr. Skurla was elected president of the parent company, Grumman Corporation, on February 14, 1985, and retired from Grumman Corporation on July 31, 1986.
His illustrious career spanned five decades. In the words of former Grumman chairman, John C. Bierwirth, "Skurla devoted over 40 years to the company and brought his management talents to bear on programs such as the U.S. Navy's F-14 Tomcat fighter and NASA's Apollo lunar module. His contributions benefited not only the company, but the entire country'."
Skurla was enshrined in the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on April 19, 2008.