Aviation Industry Legend Edward Stimpson Dies





Aviation Industry Legend Edward Stimpson Dies

By Mike Mitchell
Aviation Industry Legend Edward Stimpson

November 30, 2009 - The aviation world has lost one of the greatest statesmen it has ever known, said NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen. For nearly 40 years, he has been a leader in shaping aviation policy, both in the United States and around the world. On Wednesday aviation industry legend Ed Stimpson, passed away in his home located Boise, ID. Although never a smoker, Stimpson was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer in June. 

Stimpson began his career in aviation as the head of Congressional Affairs for the Federal Aviation Administration under the Kennedy Administration. In 1970, he became president of the newly formed General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA). There, he quickly assumed a leadership role in the direction of nearly every significant aviation policy issue of the era, including the establishment of the Airport and Airways Trust Fund, the allocation of aviation fuel during an oil embargo, and a strike by the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Association. 

Stimpson also quarterbacked the industry advocacy effort that led to enactment of the General Aviation Revitalization Act of 1994, which helped preserve or create many thousands of jobs. In recognition of that accomplishment, Cessna Aircraft Company emblazoned Stimpson’s initials on the first 100 piston-powered airplanes the manufacturer produced when it returned to that market. 


Stimpson retired from GAMA in 1996 to lead the Be A Pilot program, which was at the time the largest “learn-to-fly” initiative in general aviation history.  

Two U.S. Presidents recognized Stimpson’s unique abilities, asking him to serve as U.S. Ambassador to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in Montreal. In 1999, President Bill Clinton nominated Stimpson to the ICAO post; Clinton’s successor, President George W. Bush, seconded the nomination in 2001. Stimpson served at ICAO until 2004.  

For the past several years, Stimpson has served as the chairman of the Flight Safety Foundation in Washington, D.C. 

His monumental contributions to the industry have earned him the highest awards in aviation, including the Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy for his uniquely effective leadership in the field of general aviation, dedicated public service, and active involvement in creating career opportunities for young men and women, 2009 FSF-Boeing Aviation Safety Lifetime Achievement Award, the NBAA Meritorious Service to Aviation Award, etc. 


“Throughout his life, Ed generously gave of his time to others,” Bolen noted. “He was a friend and mentor to many people in and outside the aviation community.” As just one example, Stimpson served on the Board of Trustees for Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, and in recognition of his service to the university, a residence hall and laboratory have been named after him. In the 1980s, Stimpson also chaired the Franklin Square Association, which was dedicated to improving a blighted area of Washington, D.C.   

Ed is survived by his wife Dorothy. The two were recently honored by the City Club of Boise, a civic organization they helped found, which is dedicated to respectful, bipartisan discourse on major policy issues. “This recognition was a fitting tribute to two very special people who dedicated their lives to service to others,” Bolen said. 

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