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Book Review

Book Review – Equations of Motion

EQUATIONS OF MOTION

Adventure, Risk, and Innovation

An Engineering Autobiography by William F. Milliken

Bentley Publishers

Paperback, 685 pages

Wow, what a story!  Bill Milliken packed enough into his life for 3 men.  This book is part history, part textbook, and part true life adventure story.  I can’t do a better job of describing Milliken’s fantastic life story than that provided on the back cover.

“Bill Milliken’s eight-decade adventure of pushing vehicles to and beyond their limits is the real-world engineering experience that underlies the discipline of vehicle dynamics, and is the source of Milliken’s definitive chassis engineering book Race Car Vehicle Dynamics.

In 1933, at age 22, Milliken built and flew his own wood and fabric airplane from Old Orchard Beach, Maine.  During WWII he helped resolve the Vought F4U Corsair fighter’s aerodynamics, and was one of the first air crewmen to fly at over 35,000 feet in a Boing B-17.  He flew on the earliest flights of the ill-fated experimental B-29.

After the war, at the Cornell Aeronautical Laboratory (CAL), Milliken spearheaded the application of the linearized equations of motion to aircraft, initiating research in aircraft frequency response, variable stability and closed-loop system analysis.  In overcoming the constraints of fixed-surface aerodynamics, Milliken’s work fundamentally changed how aircraft are designed.

Milliken drove Bugatti, Miller, and other race cars in over 100 postwar races, including the first SCCA events at Watkins Glen and Sebring, as well as in the Pikes Peak and Mt. Equinox hillclimb, carefully analyzing each racing performance.  Sponsored by General Motors, DaimlerChrysler, Rolls-Royce, Goodyear, Lotus, Nissan and others, Milliken advanced the stare of the art in ground vehicle stability and control.  Jim Halls Chaparral was the first major racing team to seek Milliken’s advice, and today Milliken Research Associates assists many major racing organizations, including the Dodge NASCAR team.

Equations of Motion : Adventure, Risk and Innovation vividly recounts Milliken’s not-a-moment-wasted life, confirming the joy of pursuing one’s passions and illustrating engineering progress in the 20th Century.”

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