Elected in 1972
“For contributions to experimental and theoretical research in supersonic and hypersonic aerodynamics and in aerospace vehicle technology.”
BY GLENN BUGOS AND WALTER VINCENTI
AL EGGERS was one of the brightest lights in the Ames group that pioneered hypersonic aerodynamics in the 1950s and enabled the technology for all reentry vehicles. A brilliant theorist, Eggers also validated his ideas by building significant experimental facilities. He led the teams that forged the theoretical and empirical basis for lifting-body reentry vehicles, presaging the Space Shuttle, and of hypersonic interference-lift aircraft. Later in his career he helped fashion research policy for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and led a major National Science Foundation effort in energy research.
Eggers was born in Omaha, Nebraska, on June 24, 1922, and earned his bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the University of Omaha in 1944. As a naval ensign, in October 1944 he was assigned to work as a research engineer for the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics at its Ames Aeronautical Laboratory, located adjacent to the Moffett Field Naval Air Station in California. His heart was set on service in the Pacific theater, but he soon warmed to the excitement of Ames. Later, working full time at Ames as a civilian, he continued his education at nearby Stanford University, earning a master’s degree in engineering in 1949 and his Ph.D. in 1956.