A graduate of the University of Illinois-Urbana, with B.S. (1961), M.S. (1962) and PhD (1968) degrees, Dr. Robert H. Liebeck has made substantial contributions to a variety of aerodynamic related fields, including propeller design, windmill analysis, wing design for supersonic transports, and the design of high-altitude unmanned aircraft. He was also co-developer and manager of the Blended-Wing-Body program at Boeing, which is widely considered a revolution in subsonic commercial transportation. In 2010, he received the Daniel Guggenheim Medal, for his work in development of Liebeck airfoils and Blended Wing Body aircraft.
After seven years of summer employment, Liebeck joined the Douglas Aircraft Company fulltime in 1968, remaining with the company as Douglas transitioned into McDonnell Douglas and then Boeing. It was during his doctoral studies that he developed the airfoil designs now commonly known as the “Liebeck Airfoil,” primarily used for high-altitude reconnaissance airplanes. Other successful applications include the airfoil for the Ratsrepus world champion aerobatic airplane, the keel for the America3 sailboat that won the America’s Cup in 1992, and the wings for Indianapolis and Formula 1 race cars, including the car that won the Indianapolis in 1975.
In his 44 years at Boeing, Dr. Liebeck was program manager for several classified advanced-concept programs, most notably the company’s Blended-Wing Body (BWB) projects. These included a revolutionary design for a 500 passenger flying-wing aircraft and the X-48B remotely controlled BWB. Dr. Liebeck has an extensive list of technical publications, and also serves as professor of aeronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and as adjunct professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at the University of California, Irvine. He is a Boeing Senior Technical Fellow, an AIAA Fellow, a recipient of the AIAA Aerodynamics Award, and a member of the National Academy of Engineering.
Inducted in 2019.
Portrait Location: Not yet on the Museum Floor