Prof David Last BSc(Eng) PhD DSc CEng FIET FRIN
17 December 2019
It is with great sadness that we report the death of Past-President David Last in an air accident on 25 November.
Educated at Manchester Grammar School, he gained a BSc(Eng) at the University of Bristol in 1961, a PhD at the University of Sheffield in 1966 and, in 1995, a DSc at the University of Wales, Bangor, where he held a Personal Chair and was Head of the Radio-Navigation Group until retirement in 2005, when he became a Professor Emeritus.
David was a huge supporter of the Institute, having joined in 1972 and becoming President from 2005 to 2008. He was also a Past-President of the International Loran Association, a Fellow of the Institution of Engineering and Technology and a Chartered Engineer. In 2010 he was awarded our Institute's Harold Spencer-Jones Gold Medal and, in 2015, the Necho Award of the International Association of Institutes of Navigation.
He had also published over 500 technical and policy papers on navigation and communications systems, including GPS and other Global Navigation Satellite Systems, Loran C and enhanced Loran, as well as on older systems such as Decca Navigator and Omega.
David also acted as a consultant on radio-navigation and communications to companies, governmental and international organisations worldwide. And, since 2006, he had been active as an expert witness, especially in forensic matters concerning GPS; he had advised over 250 court hearings.
He was an experienced instrument-rated pilot, for many years owning his own aircraft and often flying himself to European conferences. But of late he had sold his aircraft and instead hired aircraft from his home airfield of Caernarfon. His final flight on 25 November was solo from there in a hired Cessna 172, which disappeared from radar over the sea off Anglesey. His body was recovered on 12 December by the North West Police Underwater Search and Marine Unit. The aircraft was located by the Bangor University Oceanographic Research Vessel, the Prince Madoc.
The Institute has received countless tributes to David and many have appeared in associated publications. He was, without doubt, one of our most learned and active members, an outstanding speaker and wonderful company. We pass our heartfelt condolences to his wife and family.
Over 200 mourners attended a Memorial Service at Bangor University on 23 January. Many Institute ties were seen and our Director, John Pottle, gave the final moving eulogy. The cause of the accident is still reported to be 'under investigation'.
In Lieu of flowers the family are asking those who wish to donate to visit JustGiving
J D Last 3 March 1940 - 25 November 2019