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Dr. John A. Clark

1923 -


John A. Clark Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame

Dr. John A. Clark, Professor Emeritus of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Michigan, was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in 1923 and grew up in Royal Oak. After graduating from Royal Oak high school in June, 1941, he attended Lawrence Institute of Technology for a short time. With the outbreak of World War II, John, like many others of his generation, enlisted in the Army Air Corps in August, 1942, and was called for active duty in February, 1943. After completing military schooling and basic and multi-engine flight training in April, 1944, he was transferred to the Las Vegas Army Air Base to train as a B-17 Bomber copilot. It was here that John met his future wife, the late Marie Mountain Clark, who was serving as a Women Airforce Service Pilot (WASP). After completing B-17 training, John and his crew picked up a new B-17G in Nebraska, and made their way across the Atlantic to join the 100th Bomb Group, Eighth Air Force, known at the Bloody 100th due to their heavy combat losses, at Thorpe Abbots, East Anglia, England. Between October, 1944, and March, 1945, John completed 32 combat missions over Europe. He kept meticulous notes and records of all briefings, as well as a diary of his combat missions, all of which were incorporated into a book in 2001 titled An Eighth Air Force Combat Diary . He concluded his
wartime service rated as a First Pilot, with over 600 hours in the B-17G, 300 of them in combat.


Following separation from the U.S. Army Air Force in July, 1945, he married his late wife Marie, and enrolled in the University Of Michigan s College of Engineering. John continued to fly during his undergraduate years, serving as a pilot on a variety of aircraft with the 107th Bomb Squadron of the Michigan Air National Guard. He was also employed as a Research Associate by the U of M Aeronautical Research Center at Willow Run Airport, conducting studies on Ramjet engines for aircraft and missile applications. He graduated in 1948 with a BS in Mechanical Engineering, left the Michigan Air National Guard, and began work as a Research Engineer with United Aircraft Corporation in East Hartford, CT, where he worked to solve cooling problems with Ramjet engines. While there, he developed a proposal for the measurement of the static temperature of high-velocity gas flows in aircraft gas turbine exhausts, which he pursued as his Master s thesis topic at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). John received both his Master s and his Doctorate (Sc.D)

degrees from MIT in Mechanical Engineering by 1952 and joined the faculty as an assistant professor. In 1957, he joined the faculty at the University of Michigan, and was soon promoted to Chairman, Department of Mechanical Engineering. In his time spent at MIT, U of M, and throughout his later career, John worked on a wide variety of initiatives, including the establishment of a flight research program with the U.S. Air Force, research involving the
propulsion systems of the Saturn Rocket, and research on heat transfer, thermal dynamics, and solar energy. Dr. Clark s broad national and international career in research and consulting also included serving as a member of President-elect Ronald Reagan s transition team for energy. Highly regarded in this field, Dr. Clark has authored over sixty technical papers and book contributions and has received numerous awards and honors from both the
scientific and academic communities.


Because of his great contributions to aviation through both his service to his country as a pilot in World War II and in the advancement of aerospace science and technology through his research, John A. Clark embodies the virtue and qualities extolled by the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame.
Smithsonian Institution Affiliations Program