Jeffrey Roger Munk 1947 – 2010
An Appreciation—An Extract from a post by the Royal Aeronautical Society.
Jeffrey Roger Munk was born on the 2nd May 1947 in Harrow, Middlesex. He was educated at Woking Grammar School, Brooklands Technical College and Southampton College of Technology, where he studied Naval Architecture specialising in shipyard management.
His early working years were spent at John I Thornycroft, the Ship Division of the National Physical Laboratory and J Bannenberg Ltd., where he was appointed Chief Naval Architect. Roger left in 1971 to become joint founder of Aerospace Developments Ltd, a predecessor company to Airship Industries Ltd. During the formative years he led the design of a giant rigid monocoque airship for transporting natural gas for Shell International Gas Limited.
In 1979 he led the design team for a pressurised cabin for Julian Nott's successful World Altitude Record for Hot Air Balloons, and made his first lighter-than-air flight to an altitude of 35,000 feet over India. The 3rd February 1979 saw the flight of his first airship, the non-rigid AD 500 prototype. With the formation of Airship Industries Ltd in 1979, Roger became Technical Director and Chief Designer responsible for the development and certification of the Skyship 500 and 600 series. He then lead the design of the Sentinel 5000 as part of a joint venture Westinghouse/Airship Industries team, which in June 1987 secured a $170 million contract from the US Navy.
He returned to England and created the Airship Technologies Group (ATG) in 1996, where he developed a number of new ideas. The first was a stratospheric StratSat, designed to operate at 60,000 feet for up to five years at a time. Another product was the AT-10, a 5-seater airship eventually exported to Asia. This design evolved into a hybrid air vehicle with an innovative landing system. It is this design that forms the platform for the US Army’s LEMV system and also the range of AIRLANDER products.
Roger died suddenly in February 2010 at the age of 62. His legacy lives on in the range of hybrid air vehicles he originally designed.