Bill Milliken has died at the age of 101. He was known in racing circles as the father of vehicle dynamics.
William F Milliken was born in Maine in the Spring of 1911. He graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1934 and went to work for Boeing, working with wind tunnels, flight testing and analysis of stability and control systems. He helped to develop the B-17 and B-29 bombers. He then moved on to be the head of flight research at the Cornell Aeronautical Laboratory, where he began to develop methods for measuring aircraft in flight dynamics using automatic control techniques. In 1948 he was one of the engineers behind the first variable stability aircraft and became a pioneer in stability augmentation systems and modern electro-hydraulic flight control systems.
While at Cornell he began to get involved in motor racing and was one of the founding members of the Watkins Glen road races. He competed in the first race in 1948, and rolled spectacularly. This resulted in the corner being named after him. He drove mainly pre-war cars, including Bugattis and Millers and competed across the United States for more than 15 years. He would later become the chief steward for the United States Grand Prix, at Watkins Glen.
His racing sparked an interest in applying his work in flight stability to the automobile and, with funding from General Motors, he founded the vehicle dynamics department at the Cornell Aeronautics Laboratory in 1956 and began to develop equations of motion in the automobile and later built the first variable stability (servo-controlled) cars. He also built the first tyre testing machines. His writings were used by countless young engineers as they learned how racing work. In later years he established his own engineering firm called Milliken Research Associates.
In September 2010 he was named a Legend of the Glen by Watkins Glen International Raceway.