National award honors VC space pioneer
September 23, 2013A thousand or more engineers will gather next month at an annual convention during which one of those in attendance will be named recipient of the Cliff Garrett Engineering Award for scientific achievement.
It is likely, however, that few of those gathered will know that Garrett was an aerospace pioneer who lived in Valley Center and whose remarkable achievements included development of the life-support systems for American astronauts aboard projects: Mercury, Apollo, Gemini and Skylab.
John Clifford Garrett founded a company bearing his name in 1936. Before his untimely death 27 years later at age 54, he had created a group of companies that manufactured a variety of products for military aircraft, spacecraft and industry.
Garrett came to Valley Center in about 1943 and purchased an 80-acre parcel near Cole Grade and Cool Valley roads. He introduced cattle, planted a lime orchard, and built a Spanish Colonial hacienda which still stands.
Garrett commuted between his corporate office near LAX to his home in Valley Center, flying into the historic airfield along Cool Valley Road.
The engineering award is made possible by a contribution from Garrett Corporation, which is now a division of Honeywell.
The Valley Center History Museum has a permanent exhibit which features Garrett and several other prominent Valley Center residents who were involved in America's space programs. The museum at 29200 Cole Grade Road is open Tuesday through Saturday from 1-4 p.m. Admission is free.
Robert Lerner is a historian as the Valley Center Historical Society.