25.6.1880 Halifax/UK - 8.9.1963 Chandler's Ford/UK
Leonard Bairstow graduated in 1904 from the Royal College of Science as a mechanical engineer. He worked then, until 1919, at the National Physical Laboratory NPL in Teddington. In 1919, he became an aerodynamics professor and the first head of the Aerodynamics Division in the newly formed Department of Aeronautics at Imperial College, London. In 1923, Bairstow was appointed Zaharoff professor of aviation and head of the Aeronautics Department, a post which he held until 1945.
Bairstow developed and made practical applications to the theory of aircraft stability and carried out some pioneering investigations into wind tunnel design in the 1910s. In 1917 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society and made a CBE. The first edition of his book Applied aerodynamics was published in 1920; a greatly enlarged second edition appeared in 1939. To this period belong also his mathematical researches on the solution of the Poisson and the Laplace equations, and a study on the slow motion of viscous fluids. Bairstow's name came also to note with two controversies, namely on the scale effect in aerodynamics, and over the boundary layer theory. The 1904 theory of Ludwig Prandtl (1875-1953) was largely ignored in England. Prandtl maintained that the effect of the air viscosity on the flow around an airplane or a model in a wind tunnel was confined to a thin boundary layer in which the effects of viscosity were adequately represented by the simplified form of the Navier-Stokes equations NSE. Bairstow claimed that the only right course was to solve the full NSE. The controversy was only solved in the 1950s by James Lighthill (1924-1998). Sir Leonard was a Member of Britain's Aeronautical Research Council for thirty-five years. He served as its vice chairman from 1940 to 1945 and as chairman from 1949 to 1952. He was also vice president of the Royal Aeronautical Society from 1930 to 1934.
Anonymous (1952). Prof. Leonard Bairstow. Aeroplane 82: 30. P
Anonymous (1965). Leonard Bairstow. Obituary Notices of Fellows of the Royal Society 11: 22-40, with bibliography. P
Bairstow, L. (1913). The laws of similitude. Flight 5: 330-332; also Engineering 95: 236-237. Bairstow, L. (1939). Applied aerodynamics. Longmans, Green: London.
Poggendorff, J.C. (1936). Bairstow, Sir Leonard. Bibliographisch-Literarisches Handwörterbuch 6: 111; 7b: 200; 8: 206. Verlag Chemie: Leipzig, Berlin, with bibliography.
Pritchard, J.L., Nayler, J.L. (1964). Sir Leonard Bairstow. Journal of the Royal Aeronautical Society 68(5): xliv-xlvi.

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