Michael John Wendl (born June 6, 1934) is an engineer who worked at the McDonnell-Douglas Corporation, mainly in the area of aerospace control. He is noted primarily as one of the early developers of terrain following technology and a proponent of incorporating energy management theory into the design of fighter aircraft. He won the Wright Brothers Medal in 1974 with Ralph Pruitt, Gordon G. Grose, and J. L. Porter for a paper discussing future aircraft designs that integrate fly-by-wire controls with engine inlets/nozzles and advanced pilot displays.
Wendl attended Washington University in St. Louis, graduating with BS in Electrical Engineering (EE) from the School of Engineering and Applied Science in 1958. He did his graduate work at the same institution under John Zaborszky, working as an instructor for physics and EE courses and completing a thesis on the control of servos for heated gases in 1961.
Wendl joined McDonnell Aircraft working in guidance and flight control systems, which at this time were topics experiencing rapid advancements. The company had expanded its efforts into a vigorous research and development program to support its aircraft and missile programs and Wendl's efforts focused on propulsion/control coupling, energy management, fly-by-wire controls, terrain following, and control augmentation. In 1968, he co-authored a paper documenting the development of vertical terrain-following capability based on the General Electric 666A actuator system as applied to fighter-bomber aircraft, in particular the F-4.
In the late 1960s, McDonnell was engaged in the fierce USAF F-X program competition for an aircraft that would counter the Soviet Mig-25. It was awarded the contract for what would become the F-15 Eagle in 1969. Wendl directed the fuel system design and development program and later contributed to various engineering refinements to subsequent models of the Eagle.
- Krachmalnick, F.M., Vetsch, G.J., and Wendl, M.J. (1968) Automatic flight control system for automatic terrain-following Archived 2009-02-26 at the Wayback Machine, Journal of Aircraft Archived 2008-06-22 at the Wayback Machine 5(2), 168-175.
- Wendl, M.J., Grose, G.G., Porter, J.L., and Pruitt, V.R. (1974) Flight/Propulsion Control Integration Aspects of Energy Management, Society of Automotive Engineers paper number 740480.
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