Chuck McKinnon will receive the 2010 Doswell Award in recognition for his pioneering role in business aviation, and his pivotal leadership in unlocking the industry’s future in the U.S., Europe and beyond.
McKinnon flew as a commercial pilot for United Airlines during World War II. When the carrier received an air transport contract, he flew supplies and troops in the U.S. and overseas. In 1954, he was tapped to fly the first business airplane used by IBM, an Aero Commander, which transported IBM engineers to locations across the country for on-site projects.
As IBM’s flight department grew, McKinnon unveiled the company’s aviation facilities at Le Bourget Airport, just outside Paris, France. The flight department, called IBM Euroflight, was the first business aviation operation in Europe, with three aircraft based at Le Bourget. McKinnon continually championed the value of Le Bourget to French government officials and was instrumental in thwarting plans to level the airport to make room for residential and commercial development.
This year marked the 50th anniversary of the first time IBM landed one of its airplanes at Le Bourget Airport. French dignitaries honored McKinnon’s long-standing role in advocating for business aviation and the airport with an invitation to an April 19 ceremony in France recognizing the importance of Le Bourget as an economic engine and historic landmark.
McKinnon, a business aviation legend, learned to fly in the late 1920s, in a Waco biplane flown from an abandoned Atlanta auto racetrack. He has piloted four presidents, two kings and several astronauts. Always a space-exploration enthusiast, he has received a commemorative medal that made the flight to space station Mir and back.
“Business aviation in and outside the U.S. would not be the same without visionaries like Chuck McKinnon,” Bolen said. “He has worked tirelessly to promote the many benefits and opportunities business aviation offers a country, a region and the global business community, and NBAA is pleased to recognize his outstanding contributions.” Palmer and McKinnon will receive their awards during NBAA's 63rd Annual Meeting & Convention, to be held from October 19 to 21 in Atlanta, GA, at the Georgia World Congress Center and Peachtree DeKalb Airport.
To hear a special edition of the NBAA Flight Plan podcast featuring an audio interview with McKinnon, visit www.nbaa.org/flight-plan.
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Armstrong was a long-time business aviation pilot who set five world records for business jets, including the highest altitude flown in a business jet, a record set on February 21, 1979.