NBAA Deeply Saddened by Passing of John H. Winant

Contact: Dan Hubbard, (202) 783-9360,

Washington, DC, January 14, 2009 –The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) is deeply saddened by the passing of John H. Winant, former president of the Association and a critical player in the evolution of business aviation. Winant died of natural causes yesterday at his home in Williamstown, MA. He was 85-years-old.

“It would be difficult to overstate the importance of John Winant in the development of business aviation in the United States and around the world,” said NBAA President Ed Bolen. “John was respected and trusted by aviation professionals, company executives, cabinet secretaries and elected officials. His integrity, knowledge, dedication and gentle nature made him an extraordinarily effective advocate for our community.”

Winant was first elected to NBAA’s Board of Directors in 1957 when he was vice president of the Sprague Electric Company. While still a director, he was appointed as NBAA’s first full-time staff president in 1971, and he served in that capacity through his retirement in 1986 when the NBAA Board bestowed on him the title of President Emeritus. Under Winant’s direction, NBAA grew from 824 Member Companies to almost 3,000 and the Association’s Annual Meeting & Convention became one of aviation’s premier events in the world. In 1981 he was instrumental in bringing together other business aviation associations from around the world to form the International Business Aviation Council.

Winant helped document the history of business aviation in two books. In 1989, he authored Keep Business Flying which covered the development of business aviation and NBAA from 1947 to 1986. He later co-authored NBAA Works, which catalogued the spirit and achievement of NBAA from 1986 to 2002.

During his career, Winant received many of aviation’s highest awards, including the Federal Aviation Administration’s “Distinguished Service Award;” PATCO’s “President’s Award;” Flight Safety Foundation’s “Meritorious Service Award;” and National Aeronautical Association’s “Elder Statesman Award.”  In 1977, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University awarded Winant the Gill Robb Wilson Award and later conferred on him the honorary degree of Doctor of Aviation Management. He was recognized with NBAA’s Meritorious Service to Aviation Award, the Association’s highest honor, in 1989. The Board Room at NBAA Headquarters in Washington, DC is named for Winant.

Born in Brooklyn, NY in 1923, Winant graduated from the Peddie School in Hightstown, NJ, and received his bachelor’s degree from Williams College.

During World War II, Winant served with the U.S. Marine Corps as an infantry platoon leader, earning the Bronze Star medal with combat “V” for hero service. During the Korean War, he served as captain in charge of the Marine Guard force at Indian Island near Hadlock, WA.

Long active in the Protestant Episcopal Church, Winant served for four years as the senior warden of St. John’s Church in Washington, DC, the historic parish known as “the Church of Presidents.”

Winant is survived by his wife, Kathryn, their two children, Peter Winant and Claudia Elliot, and their families, including five grandchildren. The family may be contacted at 963 Hancock Road, Williamstown, MA 01267-3019.           

The funeral will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, January 17 at:

A memorial service will be held in early spring at:

In lieu of flowers, the Winant family has asked that donations be made to one of the following:

Founded in 1947 and based in Washington, DC, the National Business Aviation Association, Inc. (NBAA) is the leading organization for companies that rely on general aviation aircraft to help make their businesses more efficient, productive and successful. The Association represents more than 8,000 companies and provides more than 100 products and services to the business aviation community, including the NBAA Annual Meeting & Convention, the world’s largest civil aviation trade show. Learn more about NBAA at

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