Skunk Works

It is known by nearly everyone in aviation industry the Lockheed Martin department: Skunk Works. It has its own website and it is were many planes have originated since World War II. We all have heard about the strict security rules and stories about how suddenly new aircraft were unveiled. Other companies have tried to establish similar departments; Boeing with its “Phantom Works” and EADS with its “Innovation Works”.

However, it was not until during my last holidays that I came to know the origin of the word, reading the book “Guide to Management Ideas and Gurus“, by Tim Hindle.

The name skunkworks originates from a cartoon series called “Li’l Abner” by Al Capp. The story is explained as well in the Wikipedia:

“[…] The “Skonk Works” was a dilapidated factory located on the remote outskirts of Dogpatch, in the backwoods of Kentucky. According to the strip, scores of locals were done in yearly by the toxic fumes of the concentrated “skonk oil”, which was brewed and barreled daily by “Big Barnsmell” (known as the lonely “inside man” at the Skonk Works), by grinding dead skunks and worn shoes into a smoldering still, for some mysterious, never specified purpose. […]”

Sometimes industry names come from the least expected place.


Filed under Aerospace & Defence, Books

4 responses to “Skunk Works

  1. Jesús

    What a coincidence…

    I’ve never heard about Lockheed Martin company, until this morning, when I was searching information about one opensource platform that maybe we use in one of our projects (Eureka Streams), and this platform has Lockheed Martin behind it…

    And now I read about it in your blog…

  2. Never heard of Eureka Streams… now we switched roles…

    You may have never heard of Lockheed, but you have heard of many of its aircraft: the C-130 “Hercules” transport, or the fighters F-16, F-22 Raptor, F-35, F-117 (famous in the first Gulf War).

    • Jesús

      Yep, I know some of those aircrafts… but of course, I didn`t know its builder…

      When I was young I liked to build airplanes models… I remember also the F-14 Tomcat, F-15, the Russian Migs… the B111 (maybe?? one huge bombardier??)

  3. Pingback: “Lessons from a Career of Trying to Defy the Law (of Gravity)”, lecture by Norman Augustine | The Blog by Javier

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