NBAA Marks the Passing of Aviation Legend Bruce Whitman

Contact: Dan Hubbard, 202-783-9360,

Washington, DC, Oct. 10, 2018 – The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) today marked the passing of legendary aviation figure Bruce N. Whitman, an industry ambassador who leaves a lasting legacy of tireless advocacy for business aviation safety, and a host of other important causes.

Today, the aviation community has lost a leading light in Bruce Whitman,” said NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen. “He 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 studiously applied what he learned from his mentors to inform his own life’s work, at NBAA and beyond. 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.”

Whitman spent two years at NBAA just prior to his long and successful tenure with FlightSafety International.  From 1959 to 1961 – a period during which NBAA had just four employees – Whitman served as NBAA’s senior executive assistant.

Throughout his remarkable career, Whitman was active in a host of industry initiatives, including his representation on NBAA’s Associate Member Advisory Council. In 2016, Whitman received NBAA’s prestigious American Spirit Award, in recognition of his commitment to helping others throughout the global aviation community. Whitman’s most recent recognition took place on Oct. 3, when he was inducted into the International Air & Space Hall of Fame.

The nearly six decades Whitman spent with FlightSafety International began with his assignment as assistant to the president. Later that year, he was elected vice president and a director. In 1962, he was named executive vice president, and was promoted to CEO in 2003. During his time with FlightSafety, he helped grow it into a preeminent global training provider and manufacturer of flight simulators.

Besides promoting aviation safety, Whitman was involved in numerous aviation organizations and philanthropic endeavors. He was a member of the executive committee for the Flight Safety Foundation and Orbis International, which is dedicated to the prevention of blindness and the treatment of eye diseases in developing countries. He also and sat on the board of directors for the Corporate Angel Network and served as director emeritus of the Civil Air Patrol and the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

Whitman also served on the board of directors of numerous other aviation companies and organizations, including the Aerospace Industries Association, General Aviation Manufacturers Association, National Aeronautic Association and the National Air Transportation Association’s Air Charter Safety Foundation.

Whitman was also noted for his strong support of the military, and as a connoisseur of military artwork. He was chairman emeritus of the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation, and a founding member of the board of the National World War II Museum.

Whitman started his storied career in the mid-1950s. Following graduation from Kent School in 1951, he spent two summers as a seaman with the United States Merchant Marine while attending Trinity College. Graduating from Trinity in 1955 with a Bachelor of Arts degree, he was commissioned as a lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force and earned the triple ratings of pilot, navigator and bombardier, flying for the Strategic Air Command. In 1957, he was appointed assistant to the commander at Homestead Air Force Base.

Following active military duty, Whitman attended George Washington University Law School for two years. While there, he flew as a captain for East Coast Flying Service and was a pilot in the U.S. Air Force Reserve.