Ronald Ayers, MBE (born 1932) is an English engineer who was responsible for the aerodynamics of the land speed record-holding vehicles, ThrustSSC and JCB Dieselmax, and is Chief Aerodynamicist for the Bloodhound SSC.
Early life and career
Born in London, England in 1932, Ayers obtained a BSc in aeronautical engineering from the University of London and an MSc in aerodynamics from Cranfield University before starting his working career as an apprentice at Handley Page Ltd, eventually working his way up to helping design prototypes of the Handley Page Victor bomber aircraft. After that he was employed by the British Aircraft Corporation in their Guided Weapons Division, initially as Chief Aerodynamicist and then later Head of Operational Research and Deputy Head of Management Services. Much of his time at BAC was devoted to the development of the Bloodhound surface-to-air missile.
Land speed records
In retirement, Ayers had been putting his lifetime of aerodynamic design experience to good effect researching a theory about why most major LSR (Land Speed Record) cars over the years have always underperformed relative to their original design specifications. Time spent as a part-time guide at Brooklands Museum close to his home in Claygate, Surrey, had given Ayers access to a wealth of research papers from early record-breaking attempts, and it was this that sparked his interest in record-breaking, and led to him being in Ken Norris's office on that day.
His involvement in the land speed record-breaking attempt came about entirely accidentally, through a chance meeting with Richard Noble in the offices of Ken Norris, the designer behind Donald Campbell's record-breaking Bluebird CN7. Through a combination of rocket sled testing at Pendine Sands and extensive computational fluid dynamics testing Ayers was able to develop and refine a shape which would eventually go on to break the sound barrier.
Ayers was responsible for the design of the JCB Dieselmax which smashed the World Speed Record for diesel cars on 23 August 2006, clocking 350 mph. He is heavily involved in the design of the current land speed record attempt vehicle, the Bloodhound SSC.
Ayers is a Chartered Engineer and a member of the Royal Aeronautical Society. He has one adult son. When not working on land speed record vehicles, Ayers enjoys making stained glass windows and playing bridge and golf.
- The London Gazette: . 31 December 2013.