Class Notes – Obituary

We were saddened to hear about the death of Professor Geoffrey Lilley OBE, Head of Aeronautics and Astronautics at the University from 1964 to 1983, at the end of last year.

Known to many of his contemporaries as ‘the Father of Aeroacoustics,’ Professor Lilley inspired many of today’s leading aerospace engineers. Over seven decades, he pioneered research in a number of areas such as jet engine noise reduction, sonic boom and even human-powered flight, alongside industrial partners including Rolls-Royce, British Aerospace, Lockheed, Boeing and NASA.

During his time at Southampton, Professor Lilley retained his earlier connection with the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough. Through this link, he managed to obtain the large R.J. Mitchell wind tunnel for the University, since used extensively by Formula 1 teams to test racing car aerodynamics as well as by students and academics. He was responsible for the development of Ship Science as a discipline and established the precursor of the  Wolfson Unit for Marine Technology and Industrial Aerodynamics which now collaborates with clients from around the world including America’s Cup yachting syndicates.

Throughout his career, Professor Lilley was directly involved in significant developments in aviation and was awarded six patents for his work. From 1955 he was a member of the UK Government’s Supersonic Transport Aircraft Committee, which led to the design of Concorde. He received an OBE in 1981 and was awarded the Gold Medal of the Royal Aeronautical Society and the Aeroacoustic Medal of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics in 1983.

Outside the classroom, Professor Lilley was a founder member and Life President of the University’s Light Opera Society (LOpSoc). He was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Science at Southampton in 2004.

For more information on Professor Lilley and his achievements, please visit our website

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