Raymond Wilmotte, 98, a communications engineer whose career over six decades ranged from development of blind-landing equipment for aircraft in the 1930s to Federal Communications Commission work on low Earth-orbiting satellites in the 1990s, died of heart ailments Jan. 22 at his home in Georgetown.
Until he was into his nineties, Mr. Wilmotte continued doing regular consulting with the FCC, where his most recent work included digital communications, high-definition television and mobile communications. He joined the FCC as a full-time staff member in the 1970s, and he was the principal author of a three-volume report, "Technical Boundaries of Television," which explored aspects of television innovation into the next century.
As a consultant to the U.S. military during World War II, he worked on direction-finding systems for airports and radar and missile-interception technology. He also developed a way to block Nazi radio transmissions of anti-British propaganda.
Mr. Wilmotte was born in Paris and educated at Cambridge University in England, where he received a degree in engineering. In 1929, he came to the United States at the invitation of Aircraft Radio Corp. to work on the development of blind-landing equipment.
But the company began having financial difficulties in the early years of the Great Depression, and Mr. Wilmotte changed his line of work to the burgeoning field of broadcast engineering.
In the early 1930s, according to a 1992 article in Broadcasting magazine, Mr. Wilmotte designed, installed and put into operation the first AM station directional broadcast antenna in Tampa. The FCC had been prepared to terminate the station's broadcast license because of interference its signals were causing with a station in Milwaukee. This interference stopped when the directional antenna was installed. The station's license was continued, and Mr. Wilmotte gained a reputation as an innovator in the broadcast engineering community.
After his wartime consulting with the U.S. military, Mr. Wilmotte did engineering consulting with U.S. businesses. During the 1950s, he was president of the Progressive Citizens Association of Georgetown.
From 1959 to 1963, he worked for RCA on the development of a communications satellite but returned to private consulting after RCA lost that race to Bell Laboratories. In 1973, he joined the FCC as a full-time consultant.
An inveterate gadgeteer in his personal life, Mr. Wilmotte was known for a fascination with the latest in electronic devices. At various periods in his life, he was said to have owned a talking watch, four state-of-the-art telephones and an up-to-date stereo sound system any teenager would envy.
When not tinkering with his newest gadgets, Mr. Wilmotte raised French poodles. His dogs had won prizes at several shows.
At the FCC, he directed a UHF task force whose accomplishments included development of a high-performance tuner that permitted greater use of the UHF spectrum. In his later years with the agency, he walked to work, three times a week, from his home in Georgetown to the FCC annex in the 2000 block of M Street NW, where he prepared reports on such developments as long-range mobile communications technologies, high-definition television and digital processing and transmission. He retired about five years ago.
His wife, Doris Wilmotte, died in the late 1980s.
There are no immediate survivors.