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Norman Augustus Victor Piercy

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Professor Norman Augustus Victor Piercy (1891-1953), Professor of Aeronautical Engineering at Queen Mary College

1953 Obituary [1]

We record, with deep regret, the death of Professor Norman Augustus Victor Piercy, which occurred on Sunday, February 1st, at 3, King's Bench Walk, London, E.C.4.

Professor Piercy, who was sixty-one, had been concerned with many aspects of mathematical and experimental research in aerodynamics and was regarded as one of the pioneers in aeronautical education.

Professor Piercy was born at St. John's Wood, London, on August 10, 1891. He was educated at Hampton Grammar School, and in 1908 was apprenticed to Yarrow and Co., Ltd., Scotstoun, where he stayed until 1913. By that time he had also obtained an honours degree in engineering at London, and from 1914 to 1918 he was engaged on aircraft design at Shoreham Aerodrome, and upon experimental work, using a wind tunnel of his own design for various government departments. Some of his mathematical and experimental researches at this time formed the subject of two Reports and Memoranda of the Aeronautical Research Council issued in 1918 and 1919, both being concerned with flow in the rear of aerofoils at small angles of incidence.

Professor Piercy's distinguished contribution to aeronautical education began in 1919, when he was appointed head of the Aeronautical Department, Queen Mary College, then the East London College. There, three years later, he was chiefly responsible for the introduction of aeronautics in the B.Sc. degree.

Following Dr. Lanchester's suggestion that trailing orifices of opposite hand existed at the extremities of an aerofoil, Professor Piercy directed experiments in the aeronautical laboratory with a 4ft wind tunnel, in order to establish a numerical analysis. This work was published in the Proceedings of the Royal Aeronautical Society in 1923, together with a paper dealing with a particular assumption of Prandtl's aerofoil theory. His later experimental work aimed at establishing a theory of two dimensional boundary layer flow and was the subject of another report of the A.R.C. in 1928.

The study of laminar flow wings was the object of later researches until 1944. Professor Piercy was University of London Reader in Aeronautics from 1934 to 1949, and lecturer in aeronautics and fluid mechanics at Cambridge from 1939 to 1944. He served on many committees for aeronautical education and was a member of council of the Royal Aeronautical Society. Amongst his other publications were the well-known textbooks on aerodynamics, and many contributions to aeronautical literature by way of papers and articles. Professor Piercy obtained his D.Sc. Eng. (Lond.) in 1920; he became a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers in 1936, a member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1934, and a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society in 1928.

Since 1949, Professor Piercy had been the University Professor of Aeronautical Engineering at Queen Mary College.

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