Howard Putnam

Jan. 8, 2020

When Howard Putnam was 23 he was a sales representative for Capital Airline, then worked with United Airlines, moving up over the years to become Group Vice President, Marketing. Later, Putnam was CEO of Southwest Airlines. He left Southwest in September 1981 to head ailing Braniff.

I live in awe of the man.

Many years ago, I got an email from Howard Putnam. I was amazed. Those emails have kept on coming for all of these years. If I make a comment by email, he responds quickly. Makes me feel like a big shot!

Here’s how that happened…

After his fascinating career in the airline industry, Mr. Putnam became a professional public speaker. I was also a professional speaker for more than 30 years. Surely his speaking fee was multiples of my fee, but he deserved it.

Putnam was a member of the National Speakers Association, and formed a group called Speaking Eagles. He also wrote the book, The Winds of Turbulence: A Ceo's Reflections on Surviving and Thriving on the Cutting Edge of Corporate Crisis.

Speaking Eagles sent me an email report on a regular basis for lo these many years. It was from Speaking Eagles, but was written by Howard Putnam. I gotta admit I was prone to mention, “I got an email this morning from the past CEO of Southwest and Braniff.”

Those frequent emails gave us unbelievable facts and stories from real aviation history. They were wonderful and educational. Many of the stories came from other Speaking Eagles, and most of us would never have been aware of many of them without Putnam’s personal effort.

And we admired and appreciated Howard Putnam.

Mr. Putnam has now—this year—retired from speaking and from maintaining Speaking Eagles. We will miss it.

OTOH, since his very recent retirement, Mr. Putnam has already sent us two more fascinating emails from aviation history.

I wish we had the space to include in this blog all of the many emails of appreciation and admiration for this wonderful man. They were impossible to read without somehow bringing forth tears—but fond tears for a good friend.

Thanks, Mr. Putnam…

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