Williams Honored As Inventor

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A small-town Michigan engineer, who can legitimately take part of the credit for ending the Cold War, was honored for his many contributions to aviation and aerospace technology on May 7. Dr. Sam Williams, founder of Williams International, was inducted into the National Inventors' Hall of Fame, along with 16 others in the aerospace field. Williams is best-known for development of the small fan-jet the Air Force used to power cruise missiles, which helped tip the balance of power in the Cold War. More recently, however, Williams has been trying to develop small engines for business jets. He successfully launched the FJ44 turbofan, which is used on some Cessna aircraft and by other manufacturers. But the company's attempt to provide an 80-pound engine with 700 pounds of thrust for Eclipse Aviation's new personal jet ran into trouble, overheating some components on a relatively short test hop. Eclipse abandoned the Williams engine and neither company has commented publicly on the specifics of the falling out. Williams is no stranger to awards. He has 73 patents and counts the Collier Trophy, the Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy and the National Medal of Technology among his mantle decorations.