The founding president and first chairman of the board of directors of AirCal, J. Kenneth Hull, died Wednesday morning at his home in Newport Beach of natural causes. He was 84.
Hull was a driving force in AirCal during its early years, using his experience as an executive with Lockheed Aircraft Services Corp. for 27 years to help launch the company in the mid-1960s.
He was asked to join AirCal after his retirement from Lockheed by a group of younger businessmen. Hull helped obtain public financing for the venture and was instrumental in organizing the company.
Hull was born to John James and Anne Carroll Hull on Feb. 20, 1901, in Pocatello, Ida. He attended the University of Idaho before moving to California in 1919 and enrolling at USC. He married Helen Kirk, who was also a USC student, in 1925.
Studied at USC, UCLA
He studied business and law at USC and UCLA but never received an undergraduate degree. During the Depression, Hull worked with the California Bank, later called the First Interstate Bank, in the mortgage department.
At the onset of World War II, he joined Lockheed and was the general manager of the firm's plant in Belfast, Northern Ireland, that repaired U.S. Army Air Corps planes.
He worked in Lockheed subsidiaries as an executive until his retirement. He was president of Lockheed Overseas Corp. from 1950-59 and was then president of Lockheed International Corp. until 1966.
At age 65 he retired from Lockheed and was asked to help start Air California by a group of younger businessmen who were starting the airline.
Air California, later called AirCal, was created to serve as a commuter airline between Orange County and the San Francisco Bay area.
Hull used his business and aviation expertise to start the airline that flew its first route on Jan. 16, 1967. He helped purchase aircraft, negotiated with John Wayne Airport, and obtained safety certificates.
After overseeing the launching of AirCal, Hull left the firm in 1969 to work as a self-employed business consultant. During that time he also served on the board of directors of Copaltronics Corp. and Mohr Laboratories.
Mr. Hull is survived by his wife, Mrs. Helen Hull of Newport Beach; a son, John K. Hull Jr. of San Marino; a daughter, Mrs. Caroline Hull Chase of Santa Ana, and five grandchildren.
Arrangements are being made by the Pacific View Memorial Park & Mortuary, Newport Beach. The family requests that donations be made to the American Heart Assn.'s Orange County chapter.