Saturday 15 December 2018

Ballymote native was a leading figure in US naval engineering

The death has taken place recently of a Sligo man who was a noted figure in the United States in the field of aerodynamics and naval engineering.

Dr Val J Healy, who passed away in Monterey, California, at the age of 78, was a native of Lavalla, Ballymote.

One of a family of eight, he attended Ballymote NS before going to train in mechanical engineering with the ESB in Ballyshannon. After that he emigrated to the United States where he obtained a degree in mechanical engineering from Columbia University, N.Y. in 1963.

He then taught at the California State University in Long Beach, before gaining a Ph.D in aerospace engineering at the University of Southern California in aerospace engineering at the University of Southern California in 1969. After that he did two years of research in Goettingen, Germany and taught for about ten years at Queen's University in Belfast before moving back to the States, to Monterey in California.

There he taught aerodynamics in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey. He was also very involved in research for the Naval Air Systems Command.

He was particularly involved in research on developing safe operating parameters for landing helicopters on ships at sea in high winds and stormy seas.

In 1987 he was recognised for his outstanding work in this field when he was presented with the prestigious Jimmie Hamilton Award by the American Society of Naval Engineers.

The citation stated that he had made "an important and lasting contribution to the naval engineering profession". His ashes were recently brought back to his native Ballymote for burial in the family plot, following mass in the Church of the Immaculate Conception. A single man, he is survived by his brothers Larry, Michael and John; sisters Maura, Eileen, Beatrice and Ita, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law and other relatives, to whom sympathy is extended.

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