Airplanes and spacecraft are genuinely wonderful machines. They use the energy contained in chemical bonds and other sources to overcome the relentless pull of gravity. In doing so, aerospace vehicles have shaped our modern world practically and profoundly.
Aerospace engineers have designed and built flight vehicles that can ship cargo or people between any two places on Earth in a matter of hours. They have devised machines that can deliver patients to hospital emergency rooms faster than any other means, and they have enabled humans to walk on the moon and peer into the farthest reaches of our universe. Aerospace engineers have changed the nature of warfare, but they have also enabled worldwide communications, weather monitoring, and global navigation in ways that previous generations could never have fathomed.
As Professor J. Gordon Leishman describes in the following digital pages, the field of aerospace engineering includes many subdisciplines, all with the goal of designing, building, and operating flight vehicles. Those flight vehicles can be as large as a Saturn V moon rocket, an 800-passenger jetliner, or as small as a pocket-sized uncrewed aerial vehicle. They can hover like helicopters at zero relative velocity over a fixed point or fly at many times the speed of sound in the realm of supersonic and hypersonic flight. The successful aerospace engineering student thus has to master an understanding of a wide range of topics, building on the foundations of advanced mathematics, chemistry, and physics to include the more applied topics of fluid dynamics, structures, propulsion, and control. Professor Leishman’s text is an excellent starting point for the beginning of that educational journey.
Introduction to Aerospace Flight Vehicles provides a broad overview of the technical aspects of flight vehicles while also mapping out what a beginning student should expect to encounter in the course of their studies and their careers beyond. In the following pages, you will understand the various parts and subsystems that go into an aerospace vehicle and how such vehicles are characterized, and how their performance is described. Other topics include the mathematical skills required to be a successful aerospace engineer, professional conduct and ethical responsibilities, and an overview of the history of flight. Along the way, Professor Leishman discusses job opportunities available for an individual with an aerospace education, including how aerospace engineers can apply their skills to other related fields.
Professor J. Gordon Leishman is one of the world’s leading aerodynamicists; his research has significantly impacted our understanding of the field. But beyond that, he is also an acclaimed educator and pilot with an evident passion for all things that fly. As you read through the virtual pages of this eBook, be sure to appreciate not only the science and engineering concepts that go into the design of an aerospace vehicle but also the passion and wonder that Professor Leishman shares for all things related to flight.
Dr. Mark J. Lewis
President & CEO
Purdue Applied Research Institute LLC
Mark J. Lewis is a senior aerospace and defense executive with particular expertise in hypersonics. At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Mark Lewis received two Bachelor of Science degrees (in aeronautics and astronautics and earth and planetary science) and M.S and Sc.D. degrees in aeronautics and astronautics. He is an Honorary Fellow of the AIAA and a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, a President’s Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society. He was named an aerospace Laureate by the editors of Aviation Week and Space Technology. He was the acting U.S. Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering and, before that, the Director of Defense Research and Engineering for Modernization. He was the Chief Scientist of the U.S. Air Force from 2004 to 2008. He has served as chief scientific adviser to the Chief of Staff and Secretary of the Air Force. Dr. Lewis was formerly the Willis Young Jr. Professor and Chair of the Department of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Maryland at College Park. He was also formerly the president of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA).