naa establishes the bruce whitman trophy

July 9, 2019

The National Aeronautic Association (NAA) has established the Bruce Whitman Trophy in honor of the late aerospace executive and philanthropist who passed away in October 2018. Whitman has been named as the first recipient of the trophy created as a tribute to his significant contributions to the aerospace industry over the past 60 years as well as his dedication to educating millions about the legacy of our military.

The Bruce Whitman Trophy will be awarded to “… outstanding individuals who have made significant contributions to aviation or aerospace in the United States, and who by working with museums and other institutions have promoted an appreciation by students and the broader public of the sacrifices and legacy of members of the military service.”

A deserving nominee will be put forth annually by the Chairman of the National Aeronautic Association to the Executive Committee of NAA for confirmation by majority vote. 

“Bruce will be sorely missed by the thousands he has touched,” said Jim Albaugh, Chairman, NAA.  “Over the years, he gave generously of his time to promote and remember the sacrifices of our military. This trophy is meant to honor his legacy, and to recognize individuals who have provided like service to aerospace and our country.”

After graduating from Trinity College in 1955, Whitman was commissioned a lieutenant in the United States Air Force and earned the triple ratings of pilot, navigator and bombardier serving the Strategic Air Command.  In 1957, he was appointed Assistant to the Commander at Homestead Air Force Base and flew B-25s in administrative support.  After active duty, Whitman attended George Washington University Law School for two years and flew as a Captain for East Coast Flying Service and was a pilot in the Air Force Reserve.

Whitman joined FlightSafety International in 1961 as Assistant to the President after two years as Senior Executive Assistant with the National Business Aircraft Association (NBAA).  In 1962 he was promoted to Executive Vice President and was named to CEO in 2003.  Under Whitman’s leadership, FlightSafety International transformed into the world’s premier professional aviation training company and supplier of flight simulators, visual systems, and displays to commercial, government, and military organizations.  The company now provides more than 1.4 million hours of training each year to pilots, technicians, and other aviation professionals from 167 countries around the world.

Whitman’s dedication to the aerospace industry, as evidenced by the enormous contribution FlightSafety International has made to enhancing aviation safety, is only matched by his selflessness in seeking to use his time and talents for the betterment of his country and the world at large.

Whitman worked tirelessly to perpetuate the legacy of the Medal of Honor and support the objectives, programs, and activities of the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation. He served on the board for 16 years and during that time was Chairman and Co-Chairman. Whitman was dedicated to educating and inspiring young people about the values embodied in the Medal of Honor helping them to understand and appreciate the sacrifices made by those who serve to protect our freedoms. He was instrumental in the design of The Medal of Honor Character Development Program, a resource designed by teachers to provide students with opportunities to explore the important concepts of courage, commitment, sacrifice, patriotism, integrity and citizenship and how these values can be exemplified in daily life.

In addition to his work with the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation, Whitman served as Chairman of the Audit Committee and member of the Executive Committee of Orbis International; the first Director Emeritus of the Civil Air Patrol; and Director Emeritus of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. He was on the Boards of the Corporate Angel Network, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association and the National Aeronautic Association; Trustee and past Vice Chairman of the Air Force Academy Falcon Foundation; Trustee of Kent School; Trustee, founding member of the Board, and member of the Executive Committee of the National World War II Museum; member of the Board, Vice Chair of the Development Committee, and member of the Audit Committee of Business Executives for National Security; and, Chairman of the USO of Metropolitan New York.

NAA will present the Bruce Whitman Trophy to Whitman’s family and colleagues at the NAA Fall Awards Dinner, with a date and location to be announced.