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Cook, William Hough, Jr., 1913-2012


Biographical Note

William Hough “Bill” Cook, Jr. (1913-2012) was an aeronautical engineer who worked for Boeing from 1938-1974. He designed the Boeing high speed wind tunnel and served as the lead engineer on projects such as the B-29 and B-47 bombers. In 1954 Cook was promoted to Chief of Technology Staff for Boeing’s missile program and in 1956 he was placed in charge of the Transport Division which would later become the Commercial Airplane Group.

Cook was also the lead for Boeing’s supersonic transport development team from 1959-1967. He retired in 1974 as the Director of Advanced Technology Applications, Commercial Airplane Division Product Development. In addition to his work with Boeing, Cook also served on the NASA Research and Technology Advisory Subcommittee on Aircraft Operating Problems in the 1960s. Cook received many awards for his work, including the Elmer A. Sperry award in 1965, the Sylvanus Albert Reed Award in 1968, and the Museum of Flight’s Pathfinder Award in 1993. He was also inducted into the PanAm Clipper Club in 1962. In addition, he received the Distinguished Alumni award in 1999 from his high school alma mater, the Montclair Kimberley Academy.

Cook was born in 1913 to William Cook, Sr. and Clara Tandy, in Plainview Texas. He spent his early childhood in Tampico, Mexico until 1923 when the family moved to Montclair, New Jersey. Cook graduated from the Montclair Academy, then an all-boys school, in 1930 where he completed a science-focused program of study. During his time at Montclair, Cook built a Gotha Glider which he completed in 1928. His interest in aviation is also shown in his 1930 yearbook in which he listed his desired occupation as “aviator.” Cook earned a degree in mechanical engineering from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York in 1934 and went on to receive a Master’s of Science degree in 1938 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He moved to Seattle, Washington and began working at Boeing shortly thereafter.

Although Cook did not become a professional aviator, he did earn both a glider’s license and a private pilot’s license. Cook and his family also owned two planes, a Grumman Widgeon and a Piper Super Club. His wife, Priscilla Osler Cook, and children, F. Wyatt Cook, Carrie Elkins, and Tandy Cook Hennings, also all received their private pilot’s licenses. Cook spent much of his free time flying with friends and family, often visiting remote camping and fishing locations throughout Alaska and Canada. After he retired from Boeing, Cook researched and wrote a book on aviation titled The Road to the 707 which was published in 1991. He also continued to work on the development and improvement of commercial supersonic transport until 2009. Cook died in his home in Bellevue, Washington on April 9, 2012 at the age of 98.

Found in 2 Collections and/or Records:

Biographical Information Files - C

Scope and Contents Individuals whose names begin with C: Caidin, Martin [Aviation author] Obituary notice, April 1997 Calvert, Lawrence [President, American Mail Line Ltd.] Resolution of Sympathy on Calvert's death from American Mail Line, 1966 (?) (photocopy) Cameron, John "Jock" A., Captain [Pioneer in commercial use of helicopters in Britain] ...

William Hough "Bill" Cook Jr. Papers

Identifier: 2017-10-26
Abstract The William Hough “Bill” Cook, Jr. Papers are comprised of documents, photographs, newspaper clippings, and memorabilia pertaining to the life and work of Bill Cook, Jr. A significant portion of this collection is made up of correspondence, both personal and professional. Major topics include the Boeing high speed wind tunnel, the B-29, B-47, and B-17 bombers, the development of the YC-14 short takeoff and landing (STOL) aircraft, and research on supersonic transport.

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