Arthur Arlington Williams, 69, of Punta Gorda, FL and Guenzburg, Germany, whose expertise in classic and antique aircraft restoration and construction brought him worldwide recognition and fame, died unexpectedly in Germany on 26 May 2005, as he and his wife Christa were arriving to spend the summer at their home.
Born in Wilmington, DE in 1935, Mr. Williams was the son of Richard R. Williams, Sr., a high school English teacher and Winifred Harbison Williams, nee Jones, a registered nurse. He grew up in Philadelphia, PA and Cape May County, NJ and graduated from Middle Township High School in Cape May Court House, NJ in 1953. After studying at Millersville State Teachers College, PA he enlisted in the US Army in 1954 and became an airframe and engine mechanic, continuing an early interest in aviation. He had become a licensed private pilot while in high school.
After achieving non-commissioned officer rank he entered Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, Georgia. At graduation in 1960 he was commissioned a second lieutenant and sent to flight school. In subsequent assignments he became a Master Army Aviator in fixed and rotary wing aircraft as well as a specialist in aviation maintenance.
In 1972 he was released from active duty in the rank of Major, as a consequence of the general reduction in force that followed the Viet Nam war. It was entirely characteristic of his energy and drive that this disruptive event would be turned to success and acclaim. He continued serving his country as an officer in the Army Reserve and had completed more than twenty years of service in 1985 when he retired.
He had long been interested in aircraft restoration and in Europe found an ample supply of old wrecks in barns and fields to satisfy every collector who found him. His restorations and "constructions from scratch" were displayed at the Champlin Fighter Museum in Mesa, AZ or sold to private collectors. Several of his Champlin Collection aircraft are now on display at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington, including his "construction from scratch" Rumpler Taube which hangs over the entrance to the Museum.
His work includes the Rumpler Taube, the Albatross D-Va, the Aviatik D-11, the Messerschmitt Bf 109E-3, the Focke-Wulf 190DR, Fiestler-Storck, a Fokker Dreidecker in a European collection, and the acquisition of a Yakovlev Yak-9U.
In recent years he became a Designated Airworthiness Representative for the Federal Aviation Administration, conducting airworthiness inspections and certifications of light and experimental aircraft.
He married Christa Seebauer in Germany on 20 June 1973. He is survived by his beloved wife, Christa, his sons by a previous marriage: Michael, Arthur Jr., Scott and Lansing Williams, of Cape May, NJ, and by an older brother Richard R. Williams of Lampasas County, TX. He was preceded in death by his father in 1980, age 88 years and his mother in 2004, age 100 years.
Those who knew him well admired his zest for life, the all-out way he approached his projects, the independent thought and action, and the devotion he gave to his beloved wife and sons.
Interment will be at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia, on Wednesday, 15 June at 10:00 AM.
Arthur Arlington Williams
24 Dec 1935 - 26 May 2005