Business aviation visionary leader Albert Ueltschi, 95, founder and chairman emeritus of aviation training provider FlightSafety International, died at his home in Vero Beach, Fla., on Thursday evening. After being bitten by the flying bug at an early age, Ueltschi soloed at 16 and later bought an open-cockpit airplane and barnstormed around the country.
In 1941 he joined Pan American Airways and was eventually selected as the personal corporate pilot for the airline’s founder and president, Juan Trippe, a role he maintained for a quarter century. During that time, Ueltschi recognized a need to provide corporate pilots with the same level of comprehensive training available to airline pilots and in 1951, with Trippe’s encouragement, he founded FlightSafety International, which remains headquartered at New York La Guardia Airport.
Today, FlightSafety is owned by Berkshire Hathaway and employs more than 4,200 people at 40 facilities around the world and is one of the world’s largest providers of flight and maintenance training. “Safety is the cornerstone upon which business aviation is built, and in a lot of ways Al Ueltschi is the person who laid the cornerstone,” said NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen.
During his career Ueltschi was bestowed with many honors, including the 1991 NBAA Award for Meritorious Service and the NBAA American Spirit award a decade later. He was also well known for his charitable work, especially at eyesight charity Orbis International, where he served as chairman for many years.