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GEORGE S. SCHAIRER

1913–2004

Elected in 1967

“For aircraft design and development.”

BY JOHN D. WARNER

GEORGE SWIFT SCHAIRER was born in Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania, on May 19, 1913. He attended Swarthmore College and graduated in 1934 with a B.S. with highest honors in general engineering. He studied aeronautical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and received an M.S. in 1935. He studied airplane performance calculation methods and invented “Schairer’s Airplane Performance Slide Rule.” He learned to fly light airplanes during his college years. He had a solid foundation and interest in rotary wing and fixed wing aircraft by the time he completed his formal education.

Schairer was best known for his advocacy of swept wing aircraft and development of the B-47 and 707 that ensued. In 1945 he was part of a group of scientists who went to Germany as the war was winding down, to learn what they could about Germany’s technology. He was reviewing some wind tunnel data when he came on the swept wing innovation. At the time he was on loan from Boeing to the U.S. Army Air Corps. He wrote a letter to Boeing colleague Bob Withington about his discovery, and the rest is history. Bill Cook later said that without George the postwar history of Boeing would not have happened.



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