WASHINGTON, D.C. – 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," says 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 authored two books on business aviation. Keep Business Flying, a history of NBAA and the industry, was published in 1989 and NBAA Works was published in 2002.
During his career, Winant received many of aviation’s highest awards, including the FAA'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. The Board Room at NBAA Headquarters in Washington, D.C., 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.
Winant is survived by his wife, Kathryn, their two children, Peter Winant and Claudia Elliot, and their families, including five grandchildren.