William Robert Laidlaw
1927–2010

I first met Bob Laidlaw in a recruiting room at M.I.T. in 1958. I had no idea who he was, but he was enthusiastically making a pitch for a couple of us graduates to come work for him in Columbus, Ohio. He was most persuasive and after graduation my wife and I moved to Columbus and I begain my first real job as an aeronautical engineer. It turned out he was head of a department involved in research, development and application of methods for designing airframes to meet the Navy's design specifications regarding aeroelasticity. The urgency of his visit was the final phase of the building of a new carrier based attack bomber to be known as the A3-J Vigilante. I have presented this airplane in some depth in my personal section.

Suffice it to say here that Bob Laidlaw was by far the best man technically and managerially for whom I ever worked. His energy, focus and enthusiasm motivated everyone of his people to do their best at all times, and the results were that we were likely the best dynamics R&D group in the industry. His interests included dog shows for his big thoroughbred which he used to carry in the back seat of his Cessna. After the completion of the A3-J the company's airframe business dried up, and Bob and most of my co-workers left for California or Seattle.

In the following are some sketchy but fascinaating bits of information about Bob Laidlaw.

William R. Laidlaw assisted Hap Arnold, Commanding General of the U.S. Air Force, in writing Global Mission (New York: Harper and Row, 1949), memoirs that tend to resemble the man who wrote them: energetic, enthusiastic, advocative, mixing broad vision and intimate detail, and somewhat disorganized.Meilinger, "Airmen and Air Theory, A Review of the Sources," p. 23

W. R. Laidlaw, formerly vice-president for research and engineering at North American Rockwell, formed Flight Systems, Inc., a technical/engineering-and engineering/pilot-oriented research organization with offices in Inglewood, Calif.Flight Systems Sabres.

In 1971, William Laidlaw, Special Assistant to the Director of Defense Research and Engineering (OSD), became Rockwells vice president for research and engineering in 1967.

Rockwell International Corporation, formerly (1967–73) North American Rockwell Corporation, diversified American corporation that was formerly one of the country’s leading aerospace contractors, making launch vehicles and spacecraft for the U.S. space program. In 1958 Rockwell moved into aircraft manufacturing by acquiring Aero Design and Engineering. After the merger Rockwell continued to be a major government contractor, making the Saturn V rocket engines that lifted the Apollo astronauts to the moon; the Space Shuttle orbiters and their main engines; and the airframe of the B-1B bomber. The company changed its name to Rockwell International in 1973. Despite these successes, Rockwell in the 1980s diversified into such fields as electronics and automotive products in an effort to reduce its dependence on U.S. government-contracted space systems and weapons. Rockwell had become a major manufacturer of modem chips, commercial avionics, and factory automation equipment by the time it sold its defense electronics and aerospace businesses to The Boeing Company in 1996.

Lifetime Achievement (Aviation Week, Apr 25, 2005)

William R. (Bob) Laidlaw's half-century-plus aerospace career encompasses roles as combat pilot, researcher, test pilot, engineering executive and founder of two companies. As a high school student in Toronto, he "augmented" his age by a year, joined the Royal Canadian Air Force and flew a...

Dr. William Robert LaidlawAviation Week & Space Technology, April 12, 2010, Vol. 172 Issue 14, p22
An obituary is presented for William R. Laidlaw, combat pilot and former president of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots.

William Laidlaw Dies, Played Many Roles In Aerospace Industry

William R. (Bob) Laidlaw, whose half-century-plus aerospace career included roles as combat pilot, researcher, past president of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots, engineering executive and founder of two companies, died April 2 from bladder cancer. He was 83 and lived in Nevada City, Calif. Laidlaw received Aviation Week’s Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2005 Laureates ceremonies…

William Robert Laidlaw, lifespan 82yrs10mos21dys—b. 12 May 1927, d. 2 April 2010
Last residence:Nevada City, CA. Peviously: Irvine, CA, Palm Desert, CA, Corona Del Mar, CA
Relative: Nell Laidlaw (9 yrs older)

Title: "Ejector Theory and Its Application to Induction Type Wind Tunnels"
Report: MA
Author: W. R. Laidlaw
Contributor, National Research Council of Canada
Published: 1950
Length: 36 pages

AIAA Reston, Va.
Astronautics & Aeronautics, Vol. 4, No. 10, Oct. 1966, pp. 40-43
Developing HST Structural Technology
W. R. Laidlaw and E. W. Johnston
North American Aviation, Inc.

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Los Angeles Times, FEATURED ARTICLES

BUSINESS

Aging Jets Create Jumbo Opportunity : Irvine Firm to Enter Market With $5-Million Service Facility
July 14, 1989 | ROBERT W. STEWART | Times Staff Writer
  WASHINGTON — An Irvine aircraft maintenance firm is trying to break into a burgeoning new market by building a $5-million facility near Mojave to recondition aging commercial aircraft, including jumbo jets, company officials announced Thursday.
  "There is a need for a new and emerging industry. . . . We call it the independent air-transport maintenance industry," said W.R. Laidlaw, founder and chief executive officer of Aerotest Inc., which has made a modest living by servicing smaller corporate jets.
  The Mojave plant will be the first independent airframe repair facility in California and only the fourth in the nation capable of major, nose-to-tail overhauls of aging jumbo jets, company officials said. Many airlines operate their own modernizing facilities, they said.   Aerotest officials declined to say if the firm had signed up any customers for its new plant, but they said they have had talks with major airlines and cargo carriers.

At a Glance: Aerotest Inc.
August 19, 1992 | TED JOHNSON

Headquarters: Irvine
Founded: 1986
Divisions: Mojave, Aerodesign, Van Nuys Jet Center
Founder: W.R. (Bob) Laidlaw, president
Nature of business: Maintains, renovates and tests aircraft; designs airplane instruments and electrical systems; renovates and customizes corporate jets
Target industries: Major air carriers, corporate aircraft
Client list: McDonnell Douglas Corp.; Federal Express; and United, American, Delta, Northwest, American Trans Air, USAir, MGM Grand and Hawaiian airlines
Employees: 770
Projected 1992 sales: $55.5 million
Aerotest Nearly Done With Transfer of Operations
REGIONAL ROUNDUP
April 19, 1994
  Aerotest Inc., an Irvine aircraft testing and design firm, said it has nearly completed the move of its Mojave Airport operations to the Santa Barbara Airport.
  The transfer from Mojave, where the company maintained and retrofitted transport aircraft, began in December, said Jonathan Bromberg, Aerotest's vice president of administration. Aerotest has more than 200 employees at Santa Barbara and plans to add more, Bromberg said. Only a few workers remain at Mojave, he said.
  The Mojave Airport has gained fame in recent years as one of the world's largest storage facilities for idled commercial airplanes. Aerotest performed maintenance and repair work on many of the planes stored there.
  Bromberg would not say why Aerotest made the move.

Status of Aerotest Inc. at 25 May 2015

California Secretary of State, Business Entity Detail
Entity Name: AEROTEST, INC.
Entity Number: C1368752
Date Filed: 03/19/1986
Status: SOS/FTB SUSPENDED *
Jurisdiction: CALIFORNIA
Entity Address: 23704-5 EL TORO RD STE 526
Entity City, State, Zip: LAKE FOREST CA 92630
Agent for Service of Process: JAY MICHAELSON
Agent Address: MICHAELSON, SUSI & MICHAELSON, SEVEN WEST FIGUEROA ST
Agent City, State, Zip: SANTA BARBARA CA 93101
* SOS/FTB Suspended: The business entity was suspended by both the Secretary of State and the Franchise Tax Board for failure to meet tax requirements (e.g., failure to file a return, pay taxes, penalties, interest).

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North American A3J-1 Vigilante
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North American A3J-3P Vigilante
North American A-5 Vigilante