Aerospace Expert

Posted on Thursday, July 17, 2014

William Bidlack (BS ’69, Aerospace Engineering) has been a hard-hitter in the field of aerospace engineering which has given him the opportunity to travel all over the map; from New York to California, and even Italy. Bidlack has worked in many different positions which have allowed him to pilot and work on an extensive array of aircraft.

A mere month after graduating from Western Michigan University, Bidlack was on his way to New York to start a career with Grumman Aerospace Corporation as an aerospace engineer. Bidlack planned, conducted, and wrote results for reports on static, fatigue, and component tests on the F-14A Tomcat; a supersonic, twin-engine, variable sweep wing, two-place strike fighter jet. In 1972 Bidlack continued his work on the F-14A Tomcat with the Department of the Navy. This presented a variety of experiences, including witnessing a flight demonstration of the F-14 for the Shah of Iran. It was during this time that Bidlack also obtained his private pilot’s license.

Bidlack accepted an offer three years later to take on the position of aerospace engineer for the Naval Air Mediterranean Repair and Rework Facility in Naples, Italy. At the time, Bidlack was the one and only aerospace engineer employed with the company, where he was responsible for all 20 models, types, and series of U.S. Navy and Marine Corps fixed and rotary winged aircrafts.

Bidlack also took on the responsibility of the engineering technical authority for five Scheduled Depot Level Maintenance U.S. Navy aircraft programs. While in Italy, Bidlack also obtained his multi-engine rating in a Piper PA-23 Apache.

After five years in Italy, Bidlack found himself back in the United States working as a flight test engineer at the Naval Air Warfare Center. He attended the International Flight Test School in Mojave, Calif., as well as the U.S. Navy Test Pilot School as a flight test engineer under instruction. Bidlack was able to fulfill his dream of flying U.S. Navy aircrafts like the T-2 Buckeye, TA-4J, T-38 Talon, UN-1B Beaver, TH-57, and AH-1J.

Bidlack stayed with the Naval Air Warfare Center for six years until he was asked to do another tour of duty in Naples, Italy. Bidlack also provided direct aircraft battle damage repair assessment support during Desert Shield and Desert Storm. After his tour of duty, Bidlack accepted a position as F/A-18 Systems Engineering Manager at the Naval Air Systems Command Headquarters, which he held until 1999.

Bidlack offered some words of wisdom to new WMU students and recent graduates:

“Follow your dreams and aspirations,” Bidlack said. “Whether you start your career with a contractor such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, the FAA or the Department of Defense; reach for your dreams. Your studies have earned you a beginning. Now strive to achieve all you are capable of doing.”

If you have advice for current students or new alumni, or a story to share, please visit MyWMU.com/mystory.

Posted by Stan Sulewski

U.S. Navy photo by Capt. Dana Potts. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons