Colleague, mentor, role model, and friend to Practical Aero, and more importantly, countless others, Jack D. Mattingly passed away unexpectedly on Sunday, September 26, 2021. Jack LOVED teaching and interacting with students. He was a master at challenging them to not only think, but to think at a systems-level by applying foundational principles from a practical perspective—an approach that’s at the heart of PAI’s mission.
It’s safe to say that “Uncle Jack,” his preferred reference in the classroom, was a founding father of modern airbreathing propulsion education. He was the sole or primary author of several editions of popular textbooks: Elements of Gas Turbine Propulsion, Elements of Propulsion – Gas Turbines and Rockets, and Aircraft Engine Design. Jack’s positive influence was extraordinary as he taught thousands upon thousands of students at the Air Force Academy, Air Force Institute of Technology, Seattle University, and in continuing education short courses. Further, he became the architect of the Aircraft Engine Design system (AEDsys) suite of gas turbine engine cycle and component analysis and design software used in many university classrooms and our short courses. Users love the big-picture, aircraft-engine systems-level knowledge and insights that are obtained, and so many say they have become better engineers because of it.
Jack learned from and worked with many of the legends – Gordon Oates, William Heiser, Frank Gillette just to name a few – in the relatively short history of jet-powered flight, and in doing so, became one himself! From 1986 – 1989 while in Dayton, Ohio, Jack and wife Sheila, frequently got together with the co-inventor of the jet engine, Hans von Ohain and his wife for lunch or dinner. Their friendship led to the remarkable 38-page Historical Foreword by von Ohain that is provided in both editions of Elements of Propulsion – Gas Turbines and Rockets.
Jack’s legacy will continue to live on through his textbooks, software, and short courses. We love and will miss you Uncle Jack. Your infectious enthusiasm toward teaching and family perspective, as opposed to teacher-student, will remain a hallmark of our PAI approach.
Written by Keith Boyer and Brenda Haven