North American Aviation founding executive Ralph Ruud dies


Don Palmer

I for one, take opportunity to honor this fine man's memory and life achievements. A shining example of how the life of one person can effect the lives of so many others in a positive way. Thank you Mr. Ruud.

By Erik Simonsen

Ralph H. Ruud, one of the founding executives of North American Aviation, died Wednesday in Los Angeles at the age of 97. His career spanned from aviation's infancy of wood and canvas airplanes to supersonic fighters, bombers, missiles and spacecraft.

Born July 31, 1908, in Oslo, Norway, Ruud immigrated to the U.S. at the age of nine and joined the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1928. He began his career with NAA as a tool maker in 1931. Ruud was one of the original "Bald Eagles" group of 75 employees that moved NAA from Dundalk, Md., to a 20-acre site in Inglewood, Calif., on the east side of Mines Field in1935 - the current site of Los Angeles Airport.

During the years just prior to 1940, Ruud was instrumental in introducing many innovative aircraft production techniques. These included contouring spar and skin mills to achieve tapers and contours; an "erector set" concept for tooling that permitted the use of demountable heads on a wide variety of parts and assemblies; the design and development of machines and techniques for wrapping and bending extrusions to contour; the development of beading and flaring machines for tubing; and introducing machine riveting to the industry. These techniques, machines and methods established during the1930s became the standard of the aerospace industry. Other achievements included adapting arc welding to aircraft structure; introducing mechanical continuous-moving conveyor lines; and initiating optical tooling concepts in the United States.

In 1940, as war loomed on the horizon and North American was ramping up for one of its most incredible feats of aircraft manufacturing, Ruud was appointed factory manager of NAA's Los Angeles plant. During the war years, he had direct responsibility for the production lines for vitally needed aircraft such as the P-51 Mustang, the B-25 Mitchell medium bomber and the AT-6 Texan trainer. Ruud's expertise in manufacturing techniques helped North American produce 42,000 airplanes from 1940-45.

During 1945 alone, 1,200 aircraft per month were being produced at NAA facilities in Los Angeles, Dallas and Kansas City, Mo. At the conclusion of World War II in the European theater, Ruud was one of a group of several industry experts selected by the U.S. Director of Intelligence to survey the results of U.S. strategic bombing in Germany, and to inspect former enemy aircraft plants and research centers.

Ruud served as division manager for the Los Angeles plant until 1950 and continued as manufacturing manager until 1956. During that period technology took dramatic leaps, as he led efforts to produce the B-45 (first multi-engine jet bomber); the F-86 Sabre Jet (first swept wing fighter), the Navy/Marine Corps FJ-series of carrier based fighters; the F-100 Super Sabre (first major production use of titanium in the industry); and the Mach 2 capable RA-5C Vigilante tactical reconnaissance aircraft.

Ruud continued to serve in a number of more senior executive positions, and was appointed president of the Los Angeles division in 1961. This division developed the exotic X-15 rocket plane and the tri-sonic XB-70 bomber. The X-15 still holds the unofficial speed (Mach 6.7- 4,520 mph), and altitude (354,200 feet) record for a manned rocket plane.

Additionally, the 185 foot-long, 520,000-pound XB-70 developed by NAA was capable of sustained Mach 3 flight at 75,000 feet. Both programs pushed the envelope that required pioneering work in the manufacturing of heat-resistant materials.

In 1964, Ruud became corporate vice president of Manufacturing and in 1967, the same year that NAA merged with Rockwell-Standard Corp. to form North American Rockwell, he became executive vice president of the Space Division. In this capacity he helped direct two of the company's largest and most technically challenging programs - the Apollo spacecraft, and the second stage (S-II) of the Saturn V rocket, which would take astronauts to the moon. He was appointed senior vice president, Operations of North American Rockwell Aerospace and Systems Group and named senior vice president of the Aerospace and Systems Office in January 1970.

Ruud was named corporate vice president of Operations in 1972, as the B-1A bomber was being developed and the competition to build the space shuttle was under way. In February 1973, to brand itself as a global market company, North American Rockwell was re-named Rockwell International Corp. Ralph Ruud retired in 1974 and continued to serve for many years as a consultant to Rockwell.
Elsmar Forum Sponsor
Thread starter Similar threads Forum Replies Date
B Large North American Registrar up for sale/merger Registrars and Notified Bodies 39
Stijloor North American Automotive Quality Core Tool Certification Program Professional Certifications and Degrees 2
G Nissan Supplier Website - They do NOT have a North American supplier web portal Customer and Company Specific Requirements 2
W Toyota Reaches 15 Million Mark in North American Production World News 0
Marc Ford - Elimination of 30,000 salaried jobs - Closing of 10 North American factories World News 0
Marc Ford likely to close five North American plants World News 3
Wes Bucey GM to Cut North American White-Collar Workers World News 28
P Conformance for Machines Exported to North America CE Marking (Conformité Européene) / CB Scheme 0
Marc Humans Settled In North America 24,000 Years Ago World News 6
Marc Total Lunar Eclipse Visible in North America - 15 April 2014 Coffee Break and Water Cooler Discussions 4
Hershal Quake north of SF California - 10 March 2014 Coffee Break and Water Cooler Discussions 1
S Projections for the Automotive Sector in North America in 2013 & 2014 Career and Occupation Discussions 2
S Automotive sector in North America Imported Legacy Blogs 1
Marc North Carolina legend Andy Griffith dies at 86 World News 1
R If ME equipment of any kinds should have NRTL mark when sold in North America? IEC 60601 - Medical Electrical Equipment Safety Standards Series 18
J Weld Current Monitor Calibration Laboratory in North America General Measurement Device and Calibration Topics 6
P CCC (China Compulsory Product Certification) - Registration bodies in North America? Various Other Specifications, Standards, and related Requirements 6
J Quality Department Job Opening - High Point, North Carolina Career and Occupation Discussions 0
ScottK Is anyone here from North Jersey going to the Spring ASQ Conference (4/19)? Training - Internal, External, Online and Distance Learning 1
G Regulatory Requirements for North America regarding ISO 13485:2003 ISO 13485:2016 - Medical Device Quality Management Systems 5
Marc Ford to cut between 25,000 and 30,000 jobs in North America World News 8
Marc 2006 North America International Auto Show - Picture Gallery World News 2
Marc Ford to cut 4,000 jobs in North America as stock price continues fall World News 0
Sidney Vianna Impressive environmental news from Toyota North America - Zero landfill disposal Miscellaneous Environmental Standards and EMS Related Discussions 9
Govind ASQ Certifications outside North America Professional Certifications and Degrees 7
Steve Prevette Dr. Deming Saved my Job! Webex for American Society for Quality Philosophy, Gurus, Innovation and Evolution 0
R American Petroleum Institute - Becoming an API Auditor Professional Certifications and Degrees 3
Q Buy American Act - COTS confusion Manufacturing and Related Processes 7
R Standards Data Forms (form 3654) - American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) 0
A AWS (American Welding Society) D17.1 & D17.2 Welding - Looking for help AS9100, IAQG, NADCAP and Aerospace related Standards and Requirements 6
A API (American Petroleum Institute) Design Package Content Requirements Oil and Gas Industry Standards and Regulations 1
S Can these Quality Policy Statements be used in our American and Canadian sites Misc. Quality Assurance and Business Systems Related Topics 3
B American Petroleum Institute's API Q1 Standard NINTH Edition Oil and Gas Industry Standards and Regulations 21
T Are GRE words useful in American daily life? Coffee Break and Water Cooler Discussions 19
Stijloor American airports don't rank very well. Travel - Hotels, Motels, Planes and Trains 13
somashekar BAA (Buy American Act) and the future of Asian Economy Business Continuity & Resiliency Planning (BCRP) 15
MarilynJ6354 American Global Standards Virtual Registrar ISO 9000, ISO 9001, and ISO 9004 Quality Management Systems Standards 4
Marc Dave Brubeck dies at 91 - American jazz pianist World News 3
R What is better ASQ or QA (Quality American ) Certifications? ASQ, ANAB, UKAS, IAF, IRCA, Exemplar Global and Related Organizations 3
B RIP - Sally Ride - first American woman in space dead at 61 Coffee Break and Water Cooler Discussions 3
Marc Surprise! American ISPs to launch massive copyright spying scheme on July 12 After Work and Weekend Discussion Topics 5
J MSA Emergency - PV%=100(PV/TOL)in American? And that is correct? Gage R&R (GR&R) and MSA (Measurement Systems Analysis) 13
Marc Thoughts and Opinions about the ASQ (American Society for Quality) ASQ, ANAB, UKAS, IAF, IRCA, Exemplar Global and Related Organizations 34
Marc U.S. expatriates pursue American dream in China Immigration and Expatriate Topics 2
M The 50 Greatest American Independent Movies Coffee Break and Water Cooler Discussions 0
K (AQI) American Quality Institute and ASQ (American Society for Quality) - Differences ASQ, ANAB, UKAS, IAF, IRCA, Exemplar Global and Related Organizations 3
Al Rosen American Global Standards Virtual Cert Program for ISO 9001 Registrars and Notified Bodies 12
Marc "This American Life" reveals original Coca-Cola recipe World News 0
K What is an ARA (American Recovery Act) document? Customer Requirement Quality Manager and Management Related Issues 4
R Finding an ADA (American Dental Association) Standard Testing Laboratory Various Other Specifications, Standards, and related Requirements 4

Similar threads

Top Bottom