By Rob Finfrock
CJP2015 officially drew to a close Saturday evening, Sept. 12 with the CJP Hall of Honor dinner, which included a moving tribute to one of the true pioneers of the aviation industry.
As has become tradition, the night began with the lighthearted “arrivals” video – critiquing the performance of CJP Members as they landed at Colorado Springs Airport earlier this week – followed by recognizing the participants in this year’s CJP Companions Ground School and Flight Training courses.
The room then took on a more somber tone for the induction of Dr. Sam Williams, founder of engine manufacturer Williams International, to the CJP Hall of Honor. Williams joins the ranks of some of the other most influential persons involved with the creation, and continued success, of the Citation line of aircraft.
NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen sent a letter to CJP in recognition of Dr. Williams’ vital contributions to aviation. “I consider it one of the blessings of my professional life to have had Sam on my board of directors throughout my tenure at the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA),” Bolen wrote. “As you know, Sam represents the very best in America: he was a patriot, an entrepreneur, and an inventor who profoundly enhanced our nation’s defense and aviation industries.”
Dr. Williams formed the Williams Research Corporation to develop small gas-turbine engines with performance comparable to larger turbines. The company’s engines have seen extensive use in military aviation applications over the past six decades, including drones, cruise missiles, and small, manned vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) platforms.
Recognizing a need for light, fuel-efficient turbines to power general aviation (GA) aircraft, beginning in the early 1980s Williams expanded on the company’s military efforts to produce turbofan engines for the civilian market. In 1992, the company – since renamed Williams International – earned FAA certification for the twin-spool FJ44-1A for use in the Cessna Model 525 CitationJet (CJ). Today, variants of the FJ44 power the Cessna CJ, CJ1, CJ1+, CJ2, CJ2+, CJ3, CJ3+, CJ4 and M2, as well as GA aircraft from other manufacturers and retrofitters.
Accepting the award was Dr. Williams’ son, Gregg, the current chairman, president and CEO at Williams International and owner/pilot of a Citation CJ4.
“My father won a lot of very prestigious awards and accolades throughout his life, but I think this one would have been especially meaningful to him,” said a visibly moved Williams. “It comes from people that truly can appreciate the value he created relative to the market regarding the performance and reliability of the products.”
Dr. Williams joins Cessna Chairman Emeritus Russ Meyer, Jr., retired Citation design master and company leader Bruce Petermen, and golfing legend and renowned Citation pilot Arnold Palmer in the CJP Hall of Honor.