24.1.1920 London/UK - 11.11.1990 London/UK
Paul Robert Owen graduated in engineering from the Queen Mary College, London, and specialized in aeronautics from 1940. He moved in 1941 to the Aerodynamics Department of the Royal Aircraft Establishment RAE in Farnborough, where he stayed until 1953. From then to 1963, Owen was a professor of fluid mechanics at the University of Manchester; from 1963 to 1990, he took over as the aviation professor at Imperial College, London. He was elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 1971.
Owen was a scientist and engineer of distinction and versatility. His work ranged widely over the fields of aerodynamics, flight mechanics and fluid dynamics and their applications to aeronautics, environmental and safety problems, building design, the movement of solid particles in an air flow, the ventilation of mines and wind erosion of desert areas. His first task at RAE, in collaboration with Brian Squire (1909-1961), was to determine the best position to locate the Pitot-static head on a fighter aircraft so as to keep the error in the aircraft speed inferred by the pilot from its readings as small as possible. They determined this position from calculations of the pressure field of an ellipsoidal wing. The first English jet aircraft was the Glouster E28/39 in 1941 for which much research remained to be done before it could become fully operational. In early 1943, Owen and an RAE collaborator investigated experimentally the energy losses, pressure and momentum involved at entry Mach numbers up to choking conditions. During his years in Manchester, Owen took an interest in the atmospheric boundary layer and in all those effects of wind near the ground that are strongly influenced by shear. He found an ingenious way of adapting the wind tunnel to study all the complexities of motion that result when vortex lines get wrapped around structures situated in a sheared wind. From 1963, Owen extended his interests to flow around assemblages of parallel cylinders.
Owen, P.R., Zienkiewicz, H.K. (1956). The production of uniform shear in a wind tunnel. Journal of Fluid Mechanics 2: 521-531.
Owen, P.R. (1960). Dust deposition from a turbulent airstream. Aerodynamic capture of particles: 8-25, E.G. Richardson, ed. Pergamon Press: Oxford.
Owen, P.R., Thomson, W.R. (1963). Heat transfer across rough surfaces. Journal of Fluid Mechanics 15: 321-334.
Owen, P.R. (1973). The aerodynamics of aircraft and other things. Aeronautical Journal 77(8): 383-405.
Young, A.D., Lighthill, J. (1992). Paul Robert Owen. Obituary Notices FRS 38: 269-285. P

Hydraulicians in Europe 1800-2000 . 2013.

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