Howard "Pat" Curtiss Jr.

Howard "Pat" Curtiss Jr., professor emeritus of mechanical and aerospace engineering, passed away on Sept. 20, 2012


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I am saddened to hear of the passing of Prof. Pat Curtiss. I have fond memories of him as my instructor in an undergraduate class on control theory - the one class at Princeton that had the most profound impact on the direction that I chose for graduate study and subsequent career. I also remember, as many of my graduate classmates might, the experience of "interviews" in aircraft dynamics with Prof. Curtiss on two consecutive days (2-3 hours per day), in preparation for general exams. Prof. Curtiss took about ten minutes to find one of the more obscure aerodynamic concepts - one that perhaps we had not studied in the aircraft dynamics course or perhaps that we had not given much thought to - and would lead us through derivations of its affect on flight and flight control. Mine was the "lag of the downwash," which I remember to this day. Pat Curtiss' work has clearly had a profound impact on the field of helicopter aerodynamics, and his legacy will live on through his work and his role as a top-flight educator.

Such sad news about a wonderful man. Prof. Curtiss put up with my quirky love of both biplanes and air-racing. He mentored me on a project he had no financial (no grant) or professional (no publications) interest in, and enabled growing the effort from a 1-semester junior project into a 2-year junior project/senior thesis involving design, analysis, model fabrication, and wind tunnel testing, all while he was "retired." He was endlessly patient and seemingly infinitely knowledgeable. He continued to be a tremendous source of moral support to me in the years since. My heart goes out to the Curtiss and MAE families. Blue skies and fair winds Prof. Curtiss.

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