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2010 Hall of Fame Inductee: Hilliard W. Paige

Hilly Paige came to Philadelphia with the General Electric Co. in 1956 to head-up the Project Management of programs critical to the national defense effort in the midst of the Cold War.  Prior to this role he had worked with Admiral Rickover in the development of the nuclear submarine and had managed jet engine development programs critical to the U.S. Air Force.

Here at the G.E. Chestnut Street plant he directed development of the Re-entry Vehicles that made possible the nation’s capability needed to counter the USSR’s threat.  He further broadened the business with ventures into satellite developments that were the forerunners of today’s communications, weather and geo-positioning satellites which are now in constant use.

In recognition of the significant aerospace development work carried out at the Chestnut Street plant in the late 50’s and the 60’s the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics named this Philadelphia location one of the premier Aerospace Historic Sites of the world, in Oct. of 2007.

Mr. Paige was responsible for the G.E. making a multi-million dollar investment in aerospace facilities located in the King of Prussia area.  This facility, designated the Valley Forge Technology Center, continues to operate with some 5,000 technical employees, now under the management of the Lockheed Martin Co. At the height of Space activities under Mr. Paige the organization was providing key elements in the manned space program, landing on the moon, planetary and earth observatory satellite programs and employed 17,000 engineers and scientists and supporting personnel.

What can most certainly by adjudged as a most universally beneficial event is Hilly Paige’s visionary leadership in proposing and promoting the feasibility of using an earth orbiting satellite to gain photographic intelligence on the hostile military activities of the Soviet Union.  His initiation and support was key to creating the ‘Discover/Corona’ program, resulting in providing our Presidents with invaluable intelligence which was a major factor in our winning the Cold War. In Sept of 2008 the National Reconnaissance Office recognized his singular contribution to bringing about this first “spy-in-the-sky” and named him a ‘Reconnaissance Pioneer’.

 

After Mr. Paige left the Philadelphia area in the mid-70’s he became the Senior Vice President for Technology for the General Electric Co., later he went on to become the President of the General Dynamics Corp., subsequently founded a company entitled Satellite Business Systems which became part of IBM.  He has since been involved with energy consulting and held numerous corporate directorships.  He currently resides with his wife Dodie in Williamsburg, Va.