John L. McLucas


John L. McLucas
Fayetteville, NC, USA
Death date
Associated organizations
MITRE Corporation, Federal Aviation Administration
Fields of study


John L. McLucas was an aerospace engineer who led the United States Air Force and the Federal Aviation Administration in the 1970s.

McLucas was born in Fayetteville, North Carolina, in 1920, educated at public schools, and graduated from Davidson College in 1941. He earned an M.S. in physics from Tulane University in 1943 and then served as an officer in the U.S. Navy from 1943 to 1946. He worked for a year at the Air Force Cambridge Research Center and then enrolled at Pennsylvania State University, where he earned a Ph.D in physics in 1950.

After graduate school, he became vice president and technical director at the electronics firm of Haller, Raymond and Brown, Inc., and rose to its presidency in 1958. He joined the Department of Defense in 1962 as its Deputy Director of Defense Research and Engineering for tactical warfare programs.

In 1964, he moved to Paris, where he served as assistant secretary general for scientific affairs at NATO headquarters. In 1966, he became president of MITRE Corporation, a non-for-profit systems analysis and research organization.

President Richard Nixon nominated McLucas to be the undersecretary of the Air Force in 1969. Between 1969 and 1973, he also served as director of the National Reconnaissance Office. He became secretary of the Air Force in 1973 and served until 1975. Among his challenges was controlling costs and accounting for delays in the design and construction of the B-1 bomber.

He remained in public service under President Gerald Ford, serving as administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration until 1977. He returned to the private sector as president of Comstat General, a subsidiary of the Communications Satellite Corporation. He would become Communications Satellite Corporation’s chief strategic officer in 1983 and retire in 1985.

An author of numerous scientific articles and holder of ten patents, he became an IEEE fellow in 1962 and a member of the National Academy of Engineering in 1969. He also won service awards from the Department of Defense and the Air Force.

Related materials

Where is the Electrical Engineering profession headed? - A panel session at the IEEE 1969 International Convention and Exhibition with a panel discussion consisting of McLucas and Sy Herwald Jr., IEEE Past President, VP Westinghouse, William Linville, Stanford, Tom Rogers, office of research development of housing and urban development department, Vladimir [Sefirov], Popov Society