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Sun, Mar 30, 2003

RIP: 'Mr. Citation'

Milton D. Sills Dies at 69

At the Cessna Aircraft Co. in Wichita (KS) they simply called him "Mr. Citation."

Milton Sills died of cancer Thursday at 69. "We have lost a man who has contributed greatly to the heritage of Cessna, and all of his teammates have lost one of their best friends," Meyer said.

"He not only made the first test flight on the original Citation, but he provided the vision, leadership and enthusiasm for the development of every Citation model," said Cessna's chairman, Russ Meyer.

Collier Recipient

Sills twice won the coveted Robert J. Collier Trophy from the National Aeronautic Association. In 1986, he received it for the original Citation's outstanding safety record. He received it again in 1996 when Sills himself piloted a Citation X (right) to a speed of Mach 0.92.

"That's what the license plate on his Firebird TransAm says, 'Mach 92,' " said Kaysi Cook, Sills' oldest granddaughter.

Sills, an avid University of Kansas sports fan, graduated from KU in 1955 with a degree in mechanical engineering.

His aviation career began with a three-year stint as a Navy aviator. He worked as a B-52 test pilot for Boeing in Wichita and as an F-4 test flight engineer for McDonnell Aircraft before coming to Cessna in 1965 as an engineering test pilot.

He worked his way through a series of engineering and flight test jobs there, eventually becoming senior vice president for product engineering. He received numerous awards and honors during his career and served on the Ozark Christian College board of trustees in Joplin (MO).

"His hallmark is his tremendous leadership. Milt always had an excellent balance of compassion for people. He was almost protective of the people who worked for him," said Charlie Johnson, president of Cessna, who described Sills as one of the best engineers he ever met.



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