Gary Burrell

June 14, 2019

NBAA joins with the international aviation community in extending condolences to the family and friends of Garmin Ltd. co-founder and chairman emeritus Gary Burrell, who passed away June 12 at the age of 81.

After earning his bachelor’s in electrical engineering at Wichita State University and his master’s from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Burrell held leadership positions with several marine and aviation electronics companies, including Lowrance Electronics, King Radio Corporation and AlliedSignal. He co-founded Garmin with Dr. Min Kao in 1989.

“Gary Burrell has been my friend, mentor and partner for more than 30 years,” said Kao, who was a colleague of Burrell’s at AlliedSignal. “It has been both a great privilege and a blessing to have known this amazing man, and I know his legacy will live on.”

Garmin soon established itself as a leader in the emerging realm of personal global positioning system (GPS) navigation systems for aviation, automotive, outdoor activity and maritime use. Among the company’s initial aviation products was the first GPS-based navigation receiver fully certified for non-precision instrument approaches.

In 1998, Garmin introduced the GNS 430/530 family that integrated a color, GPS-based moving map display with traditional aviation navigation and communication systems. Burrell also led the development of the G1000 integrated flight deck that brought advanced “glass cockpit” avionics to an extensive array of general aviation and business aircraft, from single-engine piston aircraft to midsize jets.

Burrell retired from the company in 2002 and served as Garmin’s co-chairman until 2004. The company has grown to become an international entity with more than 13,000 employees in 60 offices around the world. In announcing Burrell’s passing, Garmin noted that “of his many accomplishments, Gary was most proud of the jobs he helped create.”

“Very few people have impacted the world as significantly and positively as Gary Burrell,” said NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen. “His technology and his company have saved lives, reduced emissions and connected people in the most profound ways. That he did it all with humility, faith and graciousness makes the accomplishments all the more inspiring.

“Gary represented the best of our industry, our country and humanity,” Bolen said.

Credit: Photo courtesy of Garmin