BY WILLIS M. HAWKINS
THE TWENTIETH CENTURY WAS NOTABLE for many major changes in the way that people lived and related to one another. Among these changes were the modes of travel, which included not only the automobile and the railroads but also the airplane and the beginnings of man in space. The airplane was unique in the twentieth century: the time between the first faltering accomplishments of the Wright Brothers and today's global airlines with hundreds of passengers per flight was within the life span of a few creative individuals. One of the most creative of these contributors passed away in October 1997, Carlos C. Wood.
Carlos was born in Turlock, California, on June 19, 1913, early enough to become aware of all the early efforts to fly by those with almost no educational base or established technologies to support sound design concepts or rational development. The promise of innovation and the obvious excitement over a means to fly affected Carlos, and he led many who saw a future in making practical, useful aircraft. He entered the University of the Pacific to learn mechanical engineering, and on graduation in 1933 he enrolled at the California Institute of Technology, a pioneer in establishing a solid foundation of knowledge for flight. In four years at Cal Tech, he obtained a master's degree in both mechanical and aeronautical engineering and acquired the major part of the educational credit to achieve a doctorate.