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John W. Thorp T-18 designer
John W. Thorp in his T-18 over southern California hills.

John Willard Thorp

June 20, 1912 to April 18, 1992

Born in French Camp, California, John Thorp grew up from age four in the historic Locke family home in Lockeford, California. He was educated in the Lockeford and Lodi public schools, and the Boeing School of Aeronautics in Oakland, California.

Mr. Thorp worked on the Boeing 247 final assembly line and then returned to teach at Boeing School. Starting flying in 1929, he received his private license in 1930 and by 1935 had flown 30 different types of aircraft in over 200 flying hours. By 1946 he had over 600 flight hours in 62 different aircraft types.

Mr. Thorp started designing personal aircraft at Boeing School. As Lockheed Assistant Preliminary Design Engineer, he was responsible for the preliminary design of the P2V "Neptune", Naval patrol bomber. In 1946 the famous P2V "Truculent Turtle" set the unrefueled distance record of 11236 statute miles. This record stood for more than ten years, until finally broken by a KC-135 Air Force tanker.