Luckiest Engineer- From Farm Boy to Skunk Works and Beyond – Robert A. Retsch
Luckiest Engineer is an autobiography about the life of an engineer working in the aircraft industry. Starting with describing his childhood years followed by the years that led him to become a successful engineer, Robert Retsch lead us through the road that gave him a professional and innovating career. Once working at the Fokker works as a draftsman in the department that made the Dash One manual for the Fokker F-27 Friendship, I understood very well his descriptions of his working circumstances and the organisations and systems that were used in in the companies he worked with. Still it is amazing how complicated it can be to develop complete new parts or systems that were used in modern military aircraft.
He describes quite detailed how much work, innovation and intelligence is needed to develop new ideas or solve complicated technical problems. He meets also several failures and deceptions. The companies he worked with are worldwide well known like Lockheed Martin, the Skunk Works (!) and Pratt & Whitney. He explains to the reader some of the technical problems he is confronted with and -as I do not always understand the technics he is explaining- it is obvious that it involves complex engineering and possible failures can be catastrophic. Especially the time he worked in the Skunk Works and within the satellite industry is very interesting reading. In addition the stories about hierarchy in the organisations and personal confrontations are completing his book supplemented with sometimes funny and humorous situations.
Although the book is presented as typical aviation industry oriented still his career descriptions and biographical chapters are also good reading for readers outside this interest scope. The situations he is coming across supplemented with his personal advices in the book should be helpful for anybody that wants a career in the higher levels of an engineering company and contains many lessons for life.
The book is a biography of a highly educated engineer and shows us the life cycle of a successful American country boy both privately and career wise. I bought it for a very reasonable price at Amazon and enjoyed reading it.