Research career inspired by wartime attacks
Professor Bryan Edwards Richards Born: June 30, 1938, in Hornchurch, London Died: October 30, 2017, in Helensburgh The deadly roar of doodlebugs struck terror into the hearts of Londoners when Britain’s southern cities and ports were bombarded with GermanV1 missiles during the SecondWorldWar.
Thousands of these buzz bombs were launched from German armament placements along the French and Dutch coasts on June 13, 1944, in retaliation for the successful Allied landings in Europe which had taken place a week earlier.
One small boy was not frightened, however. Professor Bryan Edwards Richards, who has died suddenly in Helensburgh, aged 79, was inspired as these deadlyV-weapons or vergeltungswaffen (vengeance weapons), roared out of the sky above his home in Hornchurch, east London.
Young Richards watched awestruck as Messerschmitts and Spitfires fought out fierce dog-fights and crashed and burned over the towns and cities of England’s south coast.The buzz bombs or doodlebugs caught Richards’ imagination to the extent that he chose aeronautical engineering as a career.
Richards studied at Queen Mary College, which is now the Queen Mary University of London Under Professor AlecYoung he completed a course in research and development in aircraft and their simulation.
In the 1960s computations were generally done using slide-rules and mathematical tables.
When Richards joined the Bristol Aircraft Company they were doing sums using calculating machines.There were no digital computers available then.
They needed urgently to convince airlines, governments and safety regulators to introduce supersonic transport aircraft.Their work resulted in Concorde.
Richards then joined Imperial College London, working for Professor John Stollery, where his focus was on hypersonic aerodynamics.
The professor joined the faculty of theVon Karman Institute in Belgium in 1967 to set up a high-enthalpy laboratory.
In 1980 Richards moved as professor to the University of Glasgow, where his research activities in Glasgow involved application to interdisciplinary problems such as flight mechanics and flow control of fixed-wing and rotor aircraft, all carried out with national and international partners.
He retired from the Mechan Chair in the department of aerospace engineering after a career of 43 years in aerospace, including a period as editor of the specialist journal Progress in Aerospace Sciences. He was also a board member, reviewer and author.
As emeritus professor and honorary senior research fellow in the department, he continued to be based in Glasgow until his sudden death from a heart attack.
During his undergraduate studies in London Professor Richards developed a passion for sailing. It was inevitable that, with the Firth of Clyde on their doorstep, for Richards and his wife Margaret, also a sailor, and a growing family of four children this became the main pastime.
His daughter Emma became the first British yachtswoman and youngest ever person to complete the Around Alone, a 29,000 mile, single-handed, round-the-world yacht race with stops, in an open 60ft boat in 2002/3. She now lives in New Zealand with her husband Mike Sanderson and their three children. Professor Richards’elder daughter Phillipa has been involved all her professional life in the aerospace and marine engineering industry. She lives in London with her husband and two children.
The professor’s sons Andrew and David are engineering graduates and accomplished sailors. Andrew is married and lives with his wife and three sons in New Zealand.
David and his wife have two children and live in London.
Professor Richards, whose funeral took place at Cardross Crematorium, is survived by his wife of nearly 50 years Margaret, his four children and ten grandchildren. Bill Heaney
Died suddenly Bryan Richards