Walter C. Williams (1919-1995) earned a B.S. in aerospace engineering
from LSU in 1939 and went to work for the NACA in 1940, serving as a project
engineer to improve the handling, maneuverability, and flight characteristics
of World War II fighters. Following the war, he went to what became Edwards
Air Force Base to set up flight tests for the X-1, including the first human
supersonic flight by Capt. Charles E. Yeager in October 1947.
He became the
founding director of the organization that became Dryden Flight Research Facility. In
September 1959 he assumed associate directorship of the new NASA space task
group at Langley, created to carry out Project Mercury. He later became
director of operations for the project, then associate director of the NASA
Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston, subsequently renamed the Johnson Space Center.
In 1963 Williams moved to NASA Headquarters as deputy associate administrator
of the office of manned space flight. From 1964 to 1975, he was a vice president
for Aerospace Corporation. Then from 1975-1982 he served as chief engineer of
NASA, retiring in the latter year.
He died at his home in Tarazan, California.
"Walter C. Williams," biographical file,
NASA Historical Reference Collection.