For his many contributions to the achievement of outstanding progress in subsonic flight, and in the promise of supersonic flight, and in the equipment and methods for space exploration.
GEORGE S. SCHAIRER
This distinguished aeronautical engineer has a heritage of instrumental research— his father was one of the founders of KDKA, the first commercial broadcasting station in the U.S., and also a pioneer in electronic television.
Even as a youth, George Schairer was something of a prodigy. During his college years at Swarthmore and later at MIT, he studied the theory of airplane performance calculation methods and invented “Schairer’s Airplane Performance Slide Rule;” his master degree thesis at MIT was a wind tunnel test of four helicopter rotors.
After graduation from MIT, he was employed by Bendix and then joined the Consolidated Aircraft Corporation where he played a major role in designing the wing and tail surfaces of the B-24 bomber. From Consolidated he went to Boeing where his design contributions went into such aircraft as the B-17, B-29, Strato-cruiser, B-50, C-97, 707, KC-135, B-47, B-52 and 727. He became vice president of Research and Development in 1959.
Much of his value to Boeing stemmed from a two-year stint (1944-45) as a member of the U.S. Army Air Force Scientific Advisory Group under the chairmanship of Theodore Von Karman and vice chairmanship of Hugh L. Dryden—both Guggenheim Medalists. It was during this assignment that he became interested in the concept of swept-wing aircraft, and he subsequently initiated Boeing’s activity on sweep-back—his persistent championship of the concept led to development of the XB-47 bomber and eventually to Boeing’s entry into the commercial jet field.
A native of Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania, Schairer learned to fly during his college years, figuring it would help him better understand the flying characteristics of airplanes. It was typical of a man whose work in aeronautics has brought him numerous awards and worldwide recognition. A tireless worker in behalf of national defense, he served on numerous government scientific panels dealing with defense projects and was a member of the Scientific Advisory Committee to the Defense Intelligence Agency.
Schairer died October 28, 2004.