2/1/2013
Served as Director of the National Reconnaissance Office Under Presidents Nixon and Ford

AIAA mourns the death of AIAA Honorary Fellow James W. Plummer, a former under secretary of the Air Force, and director of the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) under Presidents Nixon and Ford. Plummer passed away January 16, in Medford, OR; he was 92 years old.

Plummer served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, where he pioneered the development of radar tactics from carrier based aircraft, while serving in aircraft-operating squadrons on the USS Enterprise. After the war, Plummer worked from 1947 to 1995 at the U.S. Navy Test Center, Patuxent, MD, where he evaluated airborne communications and navigation equipment. In 1955 he joined the Lockheed Missiles and Space Company, where he held a wide variety of positions, being appointed vice president and general manager of Lockheed’s Space Systems division in 1969. During his time at Lockheed, Plummer led the development of the Corona and Discoverer reconnaissance satellites, which revolutionized the ability of the United States to gain intelligence data during the Cold War period. In 1973 Plummer was appointed under secretary of the U.S. Air Force and director of the National Reconnaissance Office, serving from 1973 to 1976. From 1984 to 1992 he served as chairman of the Aerospace Corporation.
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