FlightSafety International chairman, president, and CEO Bruce Whitman, 84, passed away at his home Wednesday morning, the company confirmed. NBAA called him “an industry ambassador who leaves a lasting legacy of tireless advocacy” for business aviation safety and several other important causes.
“The aviation community has lost a leading light,” said NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen. “[Whitman] was a leader who saw the big picture, but nevertheless delighted in quietly rolling up his sleeves to help countless organizations tackle their everyday needs…He surrounded himself with people who shared his values of working hard and treating people with professionalism and courtesy. His handwritten notes often wished recipients ‘blue skies and tailwinds’–now, we wish him the same.”
After graduating from Trinity College in 1955, Whitman was commissioned as a lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force and earned the triple ratings of pilot, navigator, and bombardier serving in the Strategic Air Command. In 1957, he was appointed assistant to the commander at Homestead Air Force Base. After active duty, he attended George Washington University Law School while flying as a captain for East Coast Flying Service and serving as an Air Force Reserve pilot.
Whitman joined FlightSafety International in 1961 as assistant to the president after serving for two years as NBAA’s senior executive assistant. At FlightSafety, he was promoted to executive vice president in 1962 and then, in 2003, to chairman, president, and CEO.
He held advisory roles on committees and boards at a long list of companies and organizations, including NBAA; Flight Safety Foundation; Civil Air Patrol; Petroleum Helicopters; Aviall; Passur Aerospace; FlightSafety Boeing Training International; Aerospace Industries Association; NATA’s Air Charter Safety Foundation; The Wings Club Foundation; Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation; Orbis International; Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum; Corporate Angel Network; General Aviation Manufacturers Association; National Aeronautic Association; Air Force Academy Falcon Foundation; Kent School; National World War II Museum; and the USO of Metropolitan New York.