Maj. Gen. Willard W. Millikan, 59, a government relations consultant and a World War II "triple ace" fighter pilot who once had been considered "not pilot material," died of a heart attack Thursday at his home in Alexandria.
In 1941, Gen. Millikan "washed out" as an Army Air Corps cadet after failing to pass his flight checks. The official record shows that he was considered as "not being pilot material."
He then applied for pilot training with the Royal Air Force and was accepted. He won his RAF wings in 1942, after completing pilot training at Tulsa, Okla, under RAF direction.
Gen. Millikan flew a Spitfire with the RAF's Eagle Squadron until the famed unit transferred to the U.S. 8th Air Force in the fall of 1942.
Subsequently, he flew Spitfire and Hurricane fighter aircraft and P-47 Thunderbolts in over 200 combat missions. He personally destroyed 15 enemy aircraft in aerial combat during the war, shooting down four German ME-109s in one engagement and, in another, during which he and three fellow pilots took on 150 of the German planes, shot down three more. He received the Distinguished Service Cross for his triple victory that day.
His World War II fighting career ended after he collided with one of his wingmen over enemy territory and was taken prisoner by the Germans. He spent one year in an enemy prison camp until escaping shortly before the war ended in 1945.
Gen. Millikan joined the D. C. Air National Guard in 1946. He later was named commander of the 121st "White House" Fighter Squadron, part of the 113th Fighter Group of the D.C. National Guard, and led the unit on active duty for 21 months during the Korean conflict, flying F-48 Thunderjets.
He was made commander of the 113th-Tactical Fighter Wing in 1952. He led the unit on active duty during the 1961 Berlin crisis mobilization and in 1968 during the Pueblo crisis mobilization.
He later served on the Reserve Forces Policy Board and was named special assistant to the commander of the Tactical Air Command for the Air National Guard in 1970.
He was appointed Air National Guard special assistant to the commander in chief for U.S. Air Forces in Europe in 1977, a position he held at the time of his death.
Gen. Millikan set a number of air speed records, among them a transcontinental flight of four hours, eight minutes and five seconds in January 1954.
One week later, he flew a recordbreaking 24 minutes between New York and Washington and, in July 1954 flew from Washington to Akron, Ohio, in just 32 minutes.
Gen. Millikan, who had lived in the Washington area since 1946, had worked as director of the Eastern Regional Office of the Norair Division of the Northrop Corp. and as Washington representative of the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company's aviation products division before becoming a government relations consultant, a business he conducted in addition to his National Guard duties.
In addition to the Distinguished Service Cross, his decorations include the Silver Star, the Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross (five times), the Air Medal (three times) and the Purple Heart.
He as a past president of the Aero Club of Washington, past commander of the Air Service Post 501, a member of the American Legion of New York City and past president and chairman of the board of the American Fighter Aces Association.
He also had served on the board of directors of the Virginia Savings and Loan Association.
Survivors include his wife, the former R. Samantha Wesson, of the home in Alexandria, and a daughter, Patricia L. Stanley, of Rosslyn.