Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, died Saturday of complications from heart surgery. Besides serving as a NASA astronaut, Armstrong was a project pilot on many pioneering high-speed aircraft, including the Mach 5 North American X-15. During his career, he piloted more than 200 different aircraft types, including jets, rockets, helicopters and gliders. Armstrong was also an aerospace engineer and university professor.
In addition, he was a long-time business aviation pilot who set five world records for business jets, including one for the highest altitude flown in a business jet (51,000 feet in a Learjet 28 on Feb. 21, 1979). More recently, Armstrong voiced his support for business aviation as a spokesman for the NBAA/GAMA’s “No Plane, No Gain” advocacy campaign.
“Neil Armstrong inspired generations of people to reach for their dreams, and all of us in the aerospace community have been inspired by his example,” said NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen. “Neil never sought, nor really enjoyed, the spotlight,” Bolen said. “But he always stepped forward when leadership was needed. He stepped forward for our country when President Kennedy challenged us to go to the moon. And he stepped forward for business aviation when we needed him most.”