Early Years 1892 - 1938
Mr. Douglas was born in Brooklyn, NY in 1892, the son of a bank cashier. His early interest in aviation was sparked by observing an Orville Wright flight in 1908. he attended the U.S. Naval Academy and then became the first aeronautical engineering student at MIT. After graduation, he worked as an airplane designer for others before establishing Douglas Aircraft in 1921.
For the next decade, his visionary military aircraft designs, like the famous Douglas World Cruisers of 1924, built his global reputation. In 1932 he received a contract from TWA for the DC-1 which launched the legendary Douglas Commercial (DC) Transport series DC-2 and DC-3.
World War II Era 1939 - 1945
Mr. Douglas threw himself and his company into the World War II aviation effort with his typical vigor. Six Douglas plants delivered nearly 30,000 planes - transports, bombers, and carrier-based attack airplanes. One third of these were produced at Long Beach, including 3,000 Boeing B-17s.
The Douglas C-47 transport was designated by General Eisenhower as one of the four most important machines that contributed to the winning of World War II. Always a leader, Mr. Douglas presided over the War Production Council to coordinate the efforts with the other airplane manufacturers.
World War II 1946 - 1957
Following World War II, the Douglas Aircraft Company made great strides in developing advanced models of military and commercial aircraft as well as guided missile systems. The introduction of the C-124 cargo airplane paved the way for future large aircraft development. Many legendary combat aircraft, such as the A-4, set both production and performance records.
The early development of the Douglas series Nike antiaircraft missiles and Thor ballistic missiles evolved into future launch vehicles and more sophisticated missile defense systems.
As the twilight years of propeller driven aircraft drew to a close, Donald Wills Douglas ushered Douglas Aircraft into a new era in commercial aviation: The Jet Age.
Entry into the Jet and Space Age 1958 - 1967
Following the post World War II era the Douglas Aircraft Company focused on development of jet transports and the exploration of space. World travel became comfortable, efficient, and commonplace with a series of transport aircraft beginning with the DC-8. Subsequently over 3,500 jet transports rolled off the assembly lines.
Achievements in space technology led to the first orbiting space station, Skylab, the first geosynchronous orbiting com munition satellite, the Saturn launch vehicle for the Apollo lunar exploration program, and the successful Delta
launch vehicle family.
Life and Legacy 1892 - 1981
Donald Wills Douglas developed his passion for aviation inspired by the Wright brothers, becoming one of the first graduate aeronautical engineers. He founded the Douglas Aircraft Company, leading the design and production of over 47,000 military and commercial airplanes with 15,576 produced at this site. He was a major contributor to the global aircraft transport system, the development of missiles, launch and space vehicles, included the Space Station.
Being of Scottish heritage he played the bagpipes. he loved sailing and hunting with his friends, is beloved dog 'Bar' always at his side. he retired leaving an unparalleled legacy of leadership and achievement for future generations.
This plaque is to honor and give thanks to the Douglas Heritage Group or their loyalty and service dedicated to the preservation and celebration for the history of the people, the products, and the site of the Douglas Aircraft facility.
The Douglas Heritage Group has helped to develop and foster historical significance as well as recommended public art forms. They have worked in collaboration with the Boeing Company, The Collaborative West, the City of Long Beach, and the Long Beach Public Arts Council to achieve a common goal. Their efforts have ensured that our communities
will benefit in this record of rich history.
Donald Wills Douglas Sculpture
Douglas Plaza features a sculpture of Donald Wills Douglas as the center piece of the park and gateway to Long Beach.
This sculpture represents Donald Douglas with an 11'-0" diameter propeller of a DC-2 and his beloved dog 'Bar'. The design of the park is intended to celebrate the visionary qualities of Donald Douglas and the spirit of Aviation industry. The plaques at the entries to the sculpture garden describe the life and legacy of Donald Douglas.
Donald Douglas was president of the Douglas Aircraft Company from 1921 to 1967 and Chairman of the Board from 1957 to 1967. Later he was the Honorary Chairman of the McDonnell Douglas Corporation from 1967 to 1981.
Donald Douglas lived for almost a century and presided over the birth, growth, and evolution of the aerospace industry.
Artist: De L'Esprie
Foundry: National Heritage Collectors Society
Landscape Architect: The Collaborative West
Historical Preservation: Douglas Heritage Group
Commissioned by: The Boeing Company