This year’s winner of the NBAA John H. Winant Award is James Cannon, whose latest project is a textbook on business aviation, written with Dr. Frank Richey of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Called Practical Applications in Business Aviation Management, the book is to be published in November and become a text for graduate students studying business aviation management. The Winant Award recognizes former NBAA directors whose service to business aviation continues well beyond their tenure on NBAA’s Board of Directors, said NBAA in announcing the award.
“Jim Cannon has been a steadfast, effective advocate for business aviation in the years following his work on NBAA’s Board of Directors,” said NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen. “His many contributions have strengthened the business aviation community and his legacy of service to the industry has set a standard for others to follow. We are honored to recognize Jim’s dedication with the John H. Winant Award.”
After he retired from corporate flying, Cannon told AIN, he “reinvented himself.” He worked as an International Standard for Business Aircraft Operators (IS-BAO) auditor for a year before Don Spruston, director general of the International Business Aviation Council (IBAC), called to ask if he would be IS-BAO program director. IS-BAO is a code of safety best practices produced by the IBAC. (Spruston is this year’s recipient of NBAA’s Doswell Award.)
Cannon found himself in an airplane–a T-34 trainer–for the first time in 1967 when he started training as a U.S. Navy pilot. He went on to fly carrier-based Grumman E-2 Hawkeyes, served two deployments to Vietnam and, for the last two years in the Navy, instructed in A-4 advanced jet trainers, teaching carrier landings.
He then flew as a Gulfstream II copilot for W.R. Grace and flew a Bombardier Challenger and GIIB for Texaco. Cannon and several friends put together an aviation personnel company, Jet Professionals, which they later sold. He then flew a Challenger for Haemonetics, flying around the world each quarter.
Cannon later joined Home Depot as chief pilot and, as aviation director, built up the flight department. With Home Deport, he said, “I built the Global Express from scratch with Bombardier.” After being asked by the Home Depot CEO to set up a family operation with a Gulfstream IV, Cannon flew for the family until he retired in 2008.
“I’ve done a lot of international flying,” he said, “and worked with a lot of great people.” Cannon is type rated in various Falcons, the Westwind, Gulfstreams and the Bombardier Challenger and Global Express. His favorite corporate airplane? “It’s a tough question,” he said, “but the GIV was probably my favorite; it’s so versatile.”
Cannon served on the NBAA Board of Directors from 1995 to 2000, when he knew John Winant, who headed the association for many years and was associated with the organization for five decades. He has also served as chairman on the NBAA local committee that has been critical in the success of the association’s Atlanta-based conventions.
In addition to his other activities, Cannon has written more than 60 articles for various publications. He told AIN that he sold his first article–about speculation on delivery positions for the Challenger 600 when it was introduced–to Jim Holahan, founding editor of Convention News and Aviation International News.