Dr. Sam Williams Dead at 88
His FJ44 and FJ33 series engines spawned an entire class of light jets, and his ambition was to promote a generation of even smaller turbofans for four- to six-place aircraft. Dr. Sam Williams died Monday at the age of 88. His son Gregg, the current president, will now assume the added role of Chairman at Williams International, replacing his father in that position. Dr. Williams began designing small, low-thrust engines for cruise missiles, but went on to develop engines for general aviation passenger jets. For his effort, he has won the Collier Trophy, the Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy and the National Medal of Technology, but his goal to develop an engine in the 700-pound-thrust category has not materialized. The EJ22 was the engine of choice for the original version of the Eclipse 500—with a unique strategy of incorporating all accessory systems in the airframe rather than attaching directly to the powerplant. The plan never materialized and the relationship between Eclipse and Williams was severed. That dissolution was one of the most profound tipping points in the eventual downfall of Eclipse, many years later. Legally blind, Dr. Williams was also renowned for his support of medical research in the areas of cancer and degenerative eye diseases.