William J. Rae, SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor Emeritus
in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, was
inducted into the Niagara Frontier Aviation & Space Hall of
Fame on May 13, 2016 in recognition of his long career in aviation.
The annual ceremony has been a highlight for aviation and space
enthusiasts in Western New York since its beginning in 1985.
While teaching the fundamental properties of aerodynamic
ﬂight to students in his ﬂight dynamics class, Rae
began developing a theory that explains why a football
doesn’t ﬂy like a missile or a bullet. His theory
demonstrated that “the ﬂight of a football is almost
as complicated as the ﬂight of an airplane.”
Prior to joining UB in 1983, Rae worked for 30 years as a
research scientist and engineer at the Cornell Aeronautical
Laboratory, now known as the Arvin/Calspan Advanced Technology
Center. In addition to teaching, he served as associate dean for
graduate education of SEAS and chair of the mechanical engineering
undergraduate committee. He retired in 2002.