Walter Charles Williams was born on 30 July 1919 in New Orleans, Louisiana. He earned a bachelor of science degree in aerospace engineering from Louisiana State University in 1939 and went to work for the NACA in August 1940, serving as a project engineer to improve the handling, maneuverability, and flight characteristics of World War II fighters. Williams became the project engineer for the X-1 in 1946 and went to the site that eventually became Edwards AFB to set up flight tests for the X-1.[33]

He was the founding director of the organization that became the Dryden Flight Research Center{AQ8}. In September 1959, he became the associate director of the new NASA Space Task Group at Langley, which was created to carry out Project Mercury. He later became director of operations for the project, and then associate director of the NASA Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston (subsequently renamed the Johnson Space Center).

In January 1963, Williams moved to NASA Headquarters as deputy associate administrator of the Office of Manned Space Flight, and received an honorary doctorate of engineering degree from Louisiana State University. From April 1964 to 1975, he was vice president and general manager of The Aerospace Corporation. Williams returned to NASA Headquarters as chief engineer in 1975 and retired from that position in July 1982. Twice Williams received the NASA Distinguished Service Medal. He died at his home in Tarzana, California, on 7 October 1995.

[1] Memorandum for the files (Langley), subject: minutes of the meeting with ARDC representatives, 16 July 1954.

[2] Letter, NACA Headquarters to Langley, subject: research authorization, 21 July 1954.

[3] Letter, Richard V. Rhode, NACA Headquarters, to Robert R. Gilruth, Langley, no subject, 4 August 1954; telephone conversation, John V. Becker with Dennis R. Jenkins, 7 March 2002.

[4] Memorandum for the files (Langley), subject: new research airplane visits, 18 August 1954.

[5] Letter, Colonel Paul F. Nay, Acting Chief, Aeronautics and Propulsion Division, Deputy Commander of Technical Operations, ARDC, to Commander, WADC, subject: New Research

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