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Meet Bob Joppa

a photo of Joe

Wind Tunnel Engineer

I met Howard Marx to give him some advice on equipment to test the model before we put it in the tunnel. I have made some suggestions about the wind tunnel and some corrections about the wind tunnel wall interference corrections for this test.

My Career
An airplane bit me at a young age. During my grade school days I began building model airplanes. I grew up on a farm, way out in the country (100 miles northeast of Denver). There really wasn't an aeronautical industry then in the 1930's. I read about aeronautical engineers in the Sunday supplement of the newspaper. Since my eyesight would not meet the requirements to become a pilot, I thought it would be great to design airplanes. I went to the University of Washington to study aeronautical engineering, because they had a good aero department and a wind tunnel, and University of Colorado did not.

I worked in the wind tunnel part time as a student. It was built in 1939, has a 8x12 foot test section and 250 m.p.h. I started out sweeping floors and went on to work in operations. After I graduated in 1945. I became supervisor of the wind tunnel and I continued to run the wind tunnel until 1960. In I951, I was appointed to the faculty at University of Washington with my Masters degree. In 1960 I went to Princeton University to get my Ph.D. in Aeronautical Engineering with a National Science Foundation science faculty fellowship. I wrote my thesis on wind tunnel wall interference corrections for Vertical Short Take Off and Landing (high lift) airplanes In 1962 I returned to the University of Washington.

I taught courses in Aerodynamics, Wind Tunnel Testing, Flight Testing, Airplane Design, and graduate level courses in Stability and Control. I published research on atmospheric turbulence, and wind shear instrumentation for pilots in the cockpit.

If you're interested in it, go for it! I had to work to put myself through school. But who ever heard of a job for a farm boy designing airplanes!

I got a private pilot's license in 1945. I have two children, my daughter is a nun and my son is an aeronautical engineer at Boeing working on noise reduction. I was invited to teach in Singapore for two winters after I retired. That was very exciting for my wife and myself. We have just celebrated our fifty-fifth wedding anniversary in San Francisco!


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