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Memorial Tributes, Volume 14
designed during World War II. He worked out aerodynamic kinks in what became the nation’s premier fighter, the P-51. After going back to the University of Washington for his master’s degree, Hamilton accepted a job at Boeing in 1948, where business was in decline following the war.
During his 32-year tenure at Boeing, Hamilton worked on many of the company’s top programs, from the B-52 bomber to the 767 jetliner. His best-known engineering achievements came in the area of wing design, particularly on the company’s longtime workhorse airliner, the 707. His successful wing design for an enlarged 707 enabled Boeing to compete against the Douglas DC-8. Hamilton managed Boeing’s supersonic transport program, where he made a major contribution by simplifying the wing design.
During the 1970s, Hamilton was vice president and general manager of the Aerospace Group’s Research and Engineering Division, where he was responsible for planning and execution of all the company’s technical and advanced product development. He made significant contributions to Boeing’s space shuttle design, IUS, YC-14, and the Large Space Telescope, now the successful Hubble Space Telescope. In 1974 he was designated a vice president of the Boeing Aerospace Company and later ran research and development for the Boeing Commercial Airplane Company.
Hamilton was a fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and a member of the NASA Aeronautics Advisory Committee, the Defense Intelligence Agency’s Scientific Advisory Committee, and the Atlantic Groups Aerospace Research and Development Flight Mechanics Panel. He was inducted into the National Academy of Engineering in 1978 for “contributions to the aerodynamic development of jet transports.” He served on the Panel on Constraints in Space Shuttle Launch Rates in 1982 and the Panel on Atmospheric Vehicle Technology in 1987.
“What’s the good word?” and “Small matter” were expressions employed commonly by Bill and which reflected his naturally optimistic and nearly unflappable nature. His wise and genial bearing was a constant source of strength and