Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

Remarks on the Aviation Industry, at the Airport, Burbank, California

October 19, 1956

Mr. Gross and members of the Lockheed family:

When I was invited to come here, I realized, of course, that it could not be a political meeting, even though I am on a political tour.

The reason for this conclusion, of course, was I suspected there might be one or two among you that would disagree with me politically. And while, of course, I think they are wrong, they think I am wrong. And I did not want any mental argument to interfere with the true purpose of my visit, which was to come here to thank the Lockheed family.

I have been flying in Constellations for some years. The Columbine, which just brought me to the field, is the third ship-the third Constellation of that name--that I have flown.

The columbine, by the way, is the State flower of Colorado-the State where Mamie comes from.

So I will do my politicking tonight in the Hollywood Bowl-this is by way of a commercial, inviting you there. Here I just want to say a word or two on how much the quality and skill of your workmanship, and the excellence of your engineering design, have meant to me.

These three Columbines have carried me 225 thousand miles. That is, of course, only a fraction of the distance they have gone in all. The first one was sent to me by the government when I was Commander of SHAPE in Europe. The other two I have used since I have been in my present office.

The present Columbine, like the other two, is trustworthy, it is reliable, and above all for me--it is comfortable, it is a place where I can work. It is roomy and commodious. It is, in fact, a flying White House. I can carry a staff with me and work hours on end.

So you can see that I feel a real debt of gratitude to you people.

Now, through you, I would like also to pay tribute to the great aviation industry of the United States, particularly that portion located here in southern California--such a great and important portion.

This aviation industry was a decisive factor in winning World War Two. In fact, if I may digress a moment, there must be among you many men who were my comrades in World War Two all over the earth--in the Army, Navy and Marine Air Forces-and particularly if there are people here from the old 8th and 9th, and 12th and 15th Air Forces that did so much to bring Hitler to his knees, my special warm greetings and felicitations. Well, it's good to know there are some of you here.

The same way in our civil aviation, southern California, this great aviation industry, is doing so much to keep us in the lead in the world--something that is important to our national security, to the developing and expanding economy that is so absolutely necessary to keep jobs for everybody in this nation, not only the Air Force people and the people that are working in the air industry, but all the rest.

So you, as I see it, are one of the great and essential elements in the country's scheme and plan of national defense. And in this day and time, when we have always with us a recalcitrant Soviet government that will not agree to reasonable propositions for disarmament for bringing a greater confidence to the world, every day in your work, in its quality, in its continuity, you remain one of the greatest factors in our national defense.

So, as I say Thank You for what you have done in the Columbine, which means so much to me personally and to my staff and to my family, I say Thank You in a much deeper sense for what you mean to the country.

Your work is the kind that makes America great, and be you Republican or Democrat or Independent, or first voter--I don't care--I thank you from the bottom of my heart.


Note: The President spoke at 10:40 a. m. His opening words "Mr. Gross" referred to Robert E. Gross, President and Chairman of the Board, Lockheed Aircraft Corporation.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, Remarks on the Aviation Industry, at the Airport, Burbank, California Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/233610

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