by George M Skurla & William H Gregory
Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, MD, 2004. ISBN 155750329X
While not intended to be a scholarly account on this history of Grumman, the work mostly recounts the involvement of the late Mr Skurla in the company. From his early days as a neophyte engineer in the days of massive F6F Hellcats during World War II until his retirement in 1986, decisions and plans of Grumman are included from an insider viewpoint.
Skurla recounts his days on producing truck bodies, aircraft and work at the Kennedy Space Center in support of the Grumman-built Lunar Module of the Apollo program. Eventually brought back to the main corporate facilities on Long Island to work on the F-14 program and becoming President during the time of the Reagan military buildup.
Skurla is sharply critical of some of the company decisions, which tended to not want to deviate from their traditional close relationship with the US Navy. A decision to sell the Gulfstream division robbed the firm of a lucrative source of revenue. A foray into the field of building hydrofoils, which something most major aircraft firms felt they could do in the 1960s ended in near disaster with only one ending up being delivered to the US Navy with two meant for Israel being cancelled to avoid a potential huge loss to the company.
Being a major naval contractor, Skurla adopted a few naval terminologies such as "the boat" for aircraft carrier and "purple suiter" in reference to an officer on joint service duty.
This book provides an excellent background on the shape of where naval aviation is today and how it got there. In addition it also provides a look at the corporate side of the aerospace industry.
Unfortunately Mr Skurla died before the book was published. Kudos to Mr Gregory for spending three years working with Skurla to amass this memoir.