James Howard “Dutch” Kindelberger was born in 1885, nearly 20 years before the first manned, heavier-than-air flight. But thanks to his vision and engineering genius, before his death in 1962 he would see Americans enter space, a feat for which he helped pave the way. In the early 1920s, after serving as a pilot instructor in World War I, Kindelberger would get his start in aviation design with the Glenn L. Martin Aircraft company. Shortly thereafter, he lent his aeronautical insight to the Douglas Company, designing such iconic aircraft as the DC-1 and DC-2. But it was at North American Aviation that he oversaw design of his most famous bird, the P-51, widely considered the best piston single fighter of all time. Under his direction, the company would go on to make huge strides in the realm of rocket-powered aircraft, laying a solid foundation for America’s successful space exploration well into the future.