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Hilda Margaret Lyon

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Hilda Margaret Lyon (1896-1946), aeronautical engineer

1896 Born in Market Weighton, Yorkshire, daughter of Thomas Green Lyon (1859-1946), a master grocer, and his second wife, Margaret, née Green (1872-1934).

Educated at Beverley High School and Newnham College, Cambridge (1915–18)

1918 Gained second-class honours in the mathematical tripos.

1918-9 She attended a six-week training course in aeroplane stress analysis under the auspices of the Air Ministry which enabled her to secure a post as technical assistant in the aeroplane design office of the Siddeley-Deasy company, Coventry.

1920 she moved to George Parnall and Co, Bristol, where she worked on determining the strength and performance of different types of aircraft and of propellers. Became an associate fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society.

1923 Took an MA degree when Cambridge admitted women to titular degrees.

1924 Resigned from Parnalls and travelled to Switzerland with her sister for six weeks. Then went to work at the Royal Airship Works, Cardington, carrying out calculations that supported the stress analysis and aerodynamic research for the R101 airship.

1930 Awarded the R38 memorial prize of the Royal Aeronautical Society for her paper "The strength of transverse frames of rigid airships"

1930 Joined the Women's Engineering Society and later served on its council.

Gained a Mary Ewart travelling scholarship from Newnham College. She enrolled as a postgraduate student in the aeronautical engineering department of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, having resigned from Cardington in August 1930.

Her resulting work led to the acceptance of a blunter shape than had been used in the R101 airship that became known as "the Lyon shape" and was also applied to submarines.

1931-2 She remained at MIT as a research assistant and lecturer on airship structures.

1932 Went to Göttingen in Germany, funded by second Mary Ewart award, to work with Ludwig Prandtl, at the Kaiser Wilhelm Gesellschaft für Strömingsforschung, enhancing her skills in mathematical analysis to go alongside her experimental expertise.

1933 Her mother became ill and Hilda returned to Market Weighton to look after her.

1934 Lyon was able to collaborate, unpaid, with William Jolly Duncan in work at University College, Hull on flutter wings and elastic blades.

1937 After the death of her mother, she was able to find paid employment at the Royal Aircraft Establishment, Farnborough in the aerodynamics department.

Appointed head of the Theoretical Stability Group at RAE. She made pioneering contributions to longitudinal stability theory which helped provide solutions to critical wartime problems.

1946 Died after an operation at Farnham.

See Also


Sources of Information

  • Biography of Hilda Margaret Lyon, ODNB