Dr. Sam B. Williams was born in Seattle Washington in 1921. He is noted for his pioneering work in the design and manufacturing of small turbine engines for corporate and military aircraft.
Dr. Williams received a Bachelor of Science degree from Purdue University in 1942, and in 1982 he received an honorary doctorate, also from Purdue. Dr. Williams joined the Chrysler Corporation’s engineering division in 1942, where he played a key role in the design of the first Chrysler automotive gas turbine engine and the design of the first Chrysler automotive gas turbine engine and the design of one of the first turboprop engines for the U.S. Navy.
Dr. Williams founded Williams Research Corporation in 1954, (later to become Williams International Corporation in 1981) initially developing small marine and gas turbines. In the 1960’s and early 1970’s, miniature Williams jet engines powered military target and surveillance aircraft, and Williams automotive gas turbines powered Army Jeeps and experimental automobiles, which were contracted withWilliams by some of the world’s leading automotive companies.
Williams Research Corp. was selected by the U.S. Air Force in 1973 and the Navy in 1975 to develop engines from their cruise missiles. In 1985, Williams International developed the new 1900 lb. thrust FJ44 fanjet engine, which because of its size, weight, and low cost, made a new category of small, low operating cost business jets feasible.
Dr. Williams has been credited with setting the standards for small turbine engine manufacturing, holding 76 U.S. patents. He took an active part in the corporation’s technical programs in addition to his management duties. Williams International has developed fanjet engines for business aircraft and trainers, various turbojet and turbo-fan engines for missiles and target aircraft, and turboshaft engines for vehicle, stationary, and aircraft auxiliary applications.
In 1978, Dr. Williams received the Collier Trophy for “developing the world’s smallest fanjet engine.” In 1988, he received the Wright Brothers Memorial trophy for his pioneering work in aircraft propulsion. Dr. Williams was enshrined into the Air Zoo Aviation Museum and Science Education Center in Kalamazoo, Michigan on November 7, 1992, for his pioneering work in the design and manufacturing of propulsion engines. He was given a “Flown West” tribute at the “Living Legends of Aviation” in 2009. He passed away June 22, 2009, in Indian Hills, California at the age of 88.