Sam Dalziel Heron was born in on May 18, 1891, in Newcastle-on Tyne, England. He attended Alleyns School in Dulwich, the Goldsmith College (London University) and Durham University in Newcastle-on Tyne. While attending night school he completed his apprenticeship as a mechanic and foundry man at Thames Ironworks Shipbuilding and Engineering Company. He also served as draftsman and designer with Sir W.G. Armstrong, Whitworth and Company Ltd. In this period from 1910-1914 his experience included machining and later drafting and designing parts for aircraft piston engines. He helped to develop the first successful aluminum air cooler engine cylinders at the Royal Aircraft during World War I.
He came to America in 1921 to work for the Air Force on the development of the two-valve air-cooler cylinder. In a short time Sam Heron proved through his experimental work that the air-cooler cylinder could successfully match the liquid-cooled. Sam’s demonstration likely sparked the air-cooled engine revolution and all of the later successful air-cooled engines incorporated the features he utilized in some form. Once it achieved serious acceptance, the air-cooled engine never lost its ascendancy in this country and world-wide air transport was built around it, altering the field of aviation.
Sam Heron’s other important achievements included his work on fuel. His research ranged from the development of fuel test engines through the setting of standards to the utilization of complex hydrocarbon chemistry.
In 1934 he joined the Ethyl Corp in Detroit as Director of Aeronautical research, a position he held until his retirement in 1946. After his retirement he served as consultant to the government, Ethyl Corp and other firms.
Heron’s accomplishments in this field were acknowledged with many prestigious awards and medals, such as the Manly Medal (1928), the Horning Memorial Medal (1947), and the Certificate of Merit (1948).
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