Elected in 1978
“For contributions to the aerodynamic development of jet transports.”
BY JOHN WARNER AND PHIL CONDIT
BILL HAMILTON passed away on February 16, 2002, in Tacoma, Washington. His colleagues at Boeing affectionately noted that the W and T stood for Wind Tunnel, in recognition of his prowess as an aerodynamicist. This was to distinguish him from another Boeing engineer, William L. Hamilton, an accomplished engineering leader known as “Water Line” Hamilton. “Wind Tunnel” Hamilton was known to his colleagues as “Hammy.”
Born in 1917 in Pennsylvania, Hamilton grew up in Mt. Vernon, Washington. As a young boy he demonstrated an extraordinary aptitude for the principles of flight by building box kites. To test the capability of one box kite, he and a friend sent a neighbor’s small dog into the air. It landed safely, as did a kite that carried a lantern.
He earned his bachelor’s degree in engineering from the University of Washington in 1941. His first engineering job was at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (the forerunner of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, NASA) wind tunnel at Moffett Field, California, where he tested almost every new military plane