Conrad Lau (8th Feb 1921- 18th Apr 1964)

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Conrad Lau was born on February 8th, 1921 and grew up at Scott Bush Street in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad. He attended Queen’s Royal College until his fourth year, when he travelled to the United States to pursue his higher education at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He excelled, receiving his Bachelor of Science (BSc) in Mechanical Engineering in 1942, and his Master of Science (MSc) in Aeronautical Engineering in 1943. He was elected to the Dean’s List and gained membership in the National Honorary Engineering Fraternity.

After his graduation from MIT, Mr Lau joined Chance Vought Aircraft, a division of United Aircraft Corporation. He devoted his entire career to that company, which later became Ling-Temco-Vought Inc. He personally made significant contributions to the United States’ defence programmes, beginning with the famous World War II fighter plane, the F4U Corsair, which was fl own by both Navy and MarineCorps pilots, who benefited from an 11:1 kill ratio against the Japanese in the Pacific.

Under Lau’s leadership, the F7U Cutlass series and the many versions of the famous F8U Crusader aircraft were also developed within the Vought VAL Light Attack Aircraft Program. When the US Navy sought a new aircraft based on an existing design, Conrad Lau retooled the F8U into the Corsair II, beating the competition, winning the contract, and proving himself to be one of the foremost aircraft designers in the world.

Mr Lau was an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and an advisory member of the NASA Committees on Aerodynamics and Aircraft Design. He died of cancer on April 18th, 1964 at the age of 43.