FlightSafety International’s chairman, president and CEO Bruce Whitman, whose career with the flight training company spanned 57 years, died this week at the age of 85. During Whitman’s tenure, he made it his mission to reduce aviation accidents by creating programs that train pilots, not only for proficiency, but to increase their abilities to handle emergency situations. The company developed full motion simulators that create a realistic environment for pilots to practice situations that would be impossible to safely simulate in complex airplanes. Flight scenarios such as engine failures on takeoff have made many a pilot emerge from FlightSafety’s simulators white knuckled and sweaty.
But Whitman’s contribution to the aviation industry didn’t end there. In fact, few well respected aviation organizations have been untouched by Whitman’s passion for aviation safety. He served on the Associate Membership Advisory Council of the National Business Aircraft Association, the Board of Governors and Executive Committees of the Flight Safety Foundation and the Civil Air Patrol. He’s also been involved on an executive level with the Audit Committee of Petroleum Helicopters, Aviall, Passur Aerospace, Aerospace Industries Association, NATA’s Air Charter Safety Foundation, and The Wings Club Foundation.
In various capacities, he also supported the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation, Orbis International, Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Corporate Angel Network, General Aviation Manufacturer’s Association, National Aeronautic Association, Air Force Academy Falcon Foundation, Kent School, National World War II Museum, and more.
There is no question that Whitman’s vision has saved many pilots and passengers lives through the years. FlightSafety now has training facilities all around the world, covering more than 135 aircraft models in training that spans 1.4 million hours of training per year for pilots, technicians and other aviation professionals.
“We are thankful for his outstanding leadership of FlightSafety and especially for his friendship, guidance and vision. In addition to his many business accomplishments, which resulted in FlightSafety becoming the world’s premier aviation training organization, he created a culture within the company of customer service, quality, trust, caring, respect, and family,” FlightSafety said in a news release announcing the passing of its long-time leader. “All join in expressing our appreciation for our friend, mentor and remarkable leader. We are grateful for his boundless energy, commitment to excellence, and fervent dedication to enhance aviation safety around the world.”