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William R. Sears

AKA William Rees Sears

Born: 1-Mar-1913
Birthplace: Minneapolis, MN
Died: 12-Oct-2002
Location of death: Tucson, AZ
Cause of death: Illness

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Occupation: Engineer

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Airfoil engineer

Military service: US Naval Reserve

Aeronautical engineer William R. Sears studied under Theodore von Kármán, co-authored the von Kármán-Sears theory on changes in the velocity and the shape of an airfoil, and married von Kármán's secretary, Mabel Rhodes. His life's work involved oscillating airfoils in an ideal flow, compressible flow past bodies of revolution, and the general performance of airfoils. In a brief stint at Northrop Aircraft Corporation, he was largely responsible for the design of the P-61 (Black Widow) and the experimental "Flying Wing". Sears worked his way through college by playing drums for dance and jazz bands, and later played for several seasons with the Pasadena Symphony Orchestra.

Father: William Sears
Mother: Gertrude Rees Sears
Wife: Mabel Rhodes Sears (d. 26-Apr-2004)
Son: David Sears
Daughter: Susan Sears

    University: BS Aeronautical Engineering, University of Minnesota (1934)
    University: PhD Aeronautics, California Institute of Technology (1938)
    Teacher: Aeronautics, California Institute of Technology (1937-41)
    Professor: Aeronautical Engineering, Cornell University (1946-74)
    Professor: Aerospace Engineering, University of Arizona (1974-2002)

    ASME Medal 1989
    Daniel Guggenheim Medal 1996
    Journal of the Aeronautical Sciences Editor (1955-63)
    American Academy of Arts and Sciences
    American Physical Society
    American Society of Mechanical Engineers
    National Academy of Engineering 1968
    National Academy of Sciences 1974
    National Science Foundation
    Northrop Chief of aerodynamics and flight testing (1941-46)

Author of books:
General Theory of High Speed Aerodynamics (1954)
Stories from A 20th-Century Life (1994, memoir)


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