Eight Bells: Allen E. Puckett
Published on April 14th, 2014
Allen E. Puckett died March 31, 2014 at his home in Pacific Palisades, CA, surrounded by his family. He was 94 years old.
Allen earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Harvard and went on to earn his PhD. in Aerodynamics at Cal Tech. in Pasadena. His work at the Guggenheim Aeronautical Laboratory at Cal Tech(GALCIT) included designing wind tunnels for the testing of new aircraft designs, and performing the calculations that led to the development of the “delta wing” widely used in supersonic aircraft today.
In 1949, Allen went to work for Hughes Aircraft, retiring in 1987 as Chairman and CEO. During his time there, Puckett helped Hughes grow to become an industry leader in a wide variety of defense and communication technologies, including guided missiles, radar, and geosynchronous communication satellites.
Allen was an avid yacht racer and cruising sailor. Over the years, he raced on 4 boats of his own, including a Lapworth 36 “Alsuna,” a Cal 40 “Alsuna 2,” an Ericson 46 “Blackbird” and finally a Farr 55 “Amazing Grace.” When he was not skippering his own boats, he was also a highly sought-after master navigator, in the days when a sextant, compass, wristwatch, and paper charts were primary, and sometimes only, equipment used. When the first portable personal computers became available, Puckett was one of the first to develop software to assist in navigation and sailing performance analysis.
In 1992, he was a member of the design team in Bill Koch’s successful defense of the America’s Cup with America3. During his long racing career, Allen participated in almost every major regatta in Southern California, 4 Transpacs, over 30 Ensenada races, and in many other regattas around the world, but his all-time favorite was the now-defunct Marina Del Rey to Puerto Vallarta race held by Del Rey Yacht Club.
He is survived by his wife of 50 years, Marilyn, five children, Allen W. Puckett, Nancy Grant, Susan Prislin, Margaret Harris and James R. Puckett; six grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.
Click here for an obituary published April 11, 2014 in the Los Angeles Times.