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Aviation pioneer inducted into Hall of Famous Missourians

James Smith McDonnell Jr. (photo: McDonnell foundation)

By AP/St. Louis Public Radio

Jefferson City, Mo. – An pioneer in the aviation business is the latest person to be inducted into the Hall of Famous Missourians.

A bronze bust of James Smith McDonnell Jr. will be unveiled today at the Missouri Capitol.

McDonnell founded McDonnell Aircraft in 1939 and remained the chairman of the board until he died in 1980.

The company became a leading producer of fighter jets and built the first spacecraft to carry an American into orbit.

McDonnell merged with Douglas aircraft in 1967, and the combined company became part of Boeing three decades later.