John Wallace Diesel

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John Wallace Diesel
File:John Wallace Diesel at Washington University.jpg
Jack Diesel at Washington University
Born January 1929
Missouri, United States
Died 5-12-2003
Washington, DC
Occupation Rocket Scientist, Mathematician, Navigator
Employer Northrop Grumman
Spouse(s) Dolores Diesel (Doe Diesel)
Children Eric John Diesel, Kurt Tyler Diesel, Lisa Diesel (adopted)

John Wallace Diesel ("Jack Diesel", Jan 1929 – May 12, 2003) was an American mathematician, rocket scientist, navigator, and inventor. He was Chief Scientist for Civil Aviation of the Navigation Systems Division of defense contractor Northrop Grumman.[1][2] The Institute of Navigation described his career as a rocket scientist as “Illustrious”, and described him as having made “immense contribution to the science, as well as the art, of navigation”.[1]

He invented Autonomous Integrity Monitored Extrapolation (AIM), used in the aerospace industry to integrate Global Positioning Systems (satellite location systems) with Inertial Reference Systems using gyroscopes.[3]

Diesel held numerous patents in various fields, and received numerous awards and recognitions from the aerospace industry, including the Airline Avionics Institute Pioneer Award in recognition of his long-standing dedication to the art of air navigation.[1] He held 12 patents in the fields of control engineering and inertial and GPS navigation and published numerous seminal papers on these topics.[1]


John Diesel developed an early version of the modern calculator and patented it in 1953.[4] He was an early researcher in the Apollo space mission beginning in 1958-9, working on missile auto-pilots in the Missile Dynamics Department of McDonnell Aircraft.[5] Beginning in 1961, he developed a six-degree-of-freedom computer simulation program for analyzing missile dynamics and guidance systems.[1] In the 1960s, he worked on inertial guidance systems for defense contractor Litton Industries, including on calculation of trajectories of gravity bombs to be used in a potential lunar war.[6] He managed the Simulation and Analysis Department of Litton Guidance and Control Division and the Simulation and Software Department of Litton Aero Products, then after leaving Litton for a period of years, rejoined to become Chief Scientist of Litton Aero Products.[1] After Litton Industries was acquired by Northrop Grumman Corporation in 2001, he became Chief Scientist at Northrop Grumman.[1] He invented Autonomous Integrity Monitored Extrapolation (AIM), to compensate for inherent deficiencies of Global Positioning Systems (GPS) by integrating GPS and Inertial Reference Systems (IRS).[3]


John Diesel received a Masters degree in Mathematics and Electrical Engineering in 1957 and his PhD in 1959, both from the Sever Institute of Technology, Dept. of Electrical Engineering, at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.[7][8]


John Diesel was married to Doe Diesel (Dolores Diesel). They divorced in 1970. They had two sons, neuroethicist and mathematician Eric Diesel, and Kurt Tyler Diesel, president of Diesel Integrated Systems Technologies, Inc. In 1971 John metand married Carol Hatlestad Sanches, and later adopted her daughter from a previous marriage, Lisa Marie Diesel. He had 2 grandsons Justin Kraft and Brandon Diesel. John Diesel's brother was Donald Tyler Diesel who served in the military and was in the aviation field, their father was a sea ship captain and navigator, and his mother was a suffragette and prohibitionist. From 1961 until his death, Diesel lived in Woodland Hills, California.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Dr. John Diesel Obituary, Navworld, issue 8, Institute of Navigation
  2. Death Certificate of John Wallace Diesel, Office of Chief Medical Examiner, Washington D.C., 5-12-2003
  3. 3.0 3.1 3D Autonomous Integrity Monitored Extrapolation Navigation, filing 6-6-2000, publication 1-30-2008, Patent EP1287411 B1, [1]
  4. Delebridge Handy-Answer Calculator, 1 v., no 551, John Wallace Diesel, St. Louis, MO, Delebridge Calculating Systems, Inc., 5-5-53; A95732, Catalog of Copyright Entries. Third Series: 1953: January–June, Library of Congress, Copyright Office, [2]
  5. Declassified document, Gravity Bombs, Apollo Program, John W. Diesel, McDonnell Aircraft, 1958
  6. Gravity Bomb Trajectory Calculation, Declassified document, Litton Industries, 1958
  7. Optimizatoin of Second Order Servomechanisms to Step Inputs of Displacement Velocity and Acceleration, Sever Institute of Technology, Dept. of Electrical Engineering, Washington University,1957, [3]
  8. Control System Design Based on the End Sigma Error Criterion, Sever Institute of Technology, Dept. of Electrical Engineering, Washington University,1959, [4]

External links