Final Flights: People
William “Bill” McGrath, 60, died in late December, following a battle with cancer. After flying B-52s in the USAF, McGrath began his business aviation career in 1985, joining Dallas-based SimuFlite as director of marketing and sales. He served as president and CEO of Vector Training Systems, and led sales and marketing efforts for SkyPlus Technologies before establishing his own consulting business. Under WJM Consulting, McGrath helped launch the Eclipse Aviation Simulator Training Center as center manager in Albuquerque, N.M. He is survived by his wife, Melinda, six children and seven grandchildren.
Paul Wiater, 64, director of operations of the FAA’s “Hangar 6” at Reagan National Airport for the past 18 years, died on January 28. In 1991 he retired with the rank of colonel from the USAF and joined the FAA, where he continued to pursue his love of aviation. During his career, he flew more than 10,000 military and civilian hours. Wiater is survived by his wife, Debbie, his son and daughter and one grandson.
Henry “Hank” Beaird Jr., 84, renowned test pilot and WW II aviator, passed away on February 2, in Dallas. Beaird received his commission and wings in 1944 at the age of 19 and flew fighters and transports for the U.S. Army Air Force until his discharge in 1946. He finished his aeronautical engineering degree in 1949, while working as an engineer for Chance Vought and flying in the Texas Air National Guard. Beaird was chief test pilot for Lear Jet, where he made the first flights of the Lear Jet 23, 24 and 25. He also made first flights on the Lear Fan and OMAC aircraft. A charter member and fellow of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots, Beaird is survived by his wife, Rosalind, four sons and five grandchildren.