Class of 1955
A leader in flight safety
by Jon Reynolds ’59
Bruce Whitman, president and CEO of lightSafety International, has been with the company since 1961, when it consisted of about 20 employees. Beginning as assistant to the president, he has played a key role as the company pioneered aviation simulation and training. In the process, the company grew to 5,700 employees at over 70 sites, and today has annual revenues of approximately $1 billion. Promoted in 2003 to his present position, Whitman reports to Warren Buffet, chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, which acquired FlightSafety in 1996. Bruce is an aviation leader whose influence ranges from his office at LaGuardia Airport throughout the aviation industry. The FlightSafety credo says it all, “The best safety device in any aircraft is a well-trained crew.”
In addition to FlightSafety, Whitman is committed to supporting and promoting the men and women in uniform who are serving, or have served, in the armed forces of the United States. Premier among these activities is his position as the co-chairman of the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation, dedicated to perpetuating the legacy of the Medal of Honor and its recipients. He is also director and chairman of the Executive Committee of PASSUR Aerospace, a director of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, an Executive Committee member of NATA’s Air Charter Safety Foundation Board of Governors, a director of ORBIS International (the flying-eye hospital), and a director emeritus of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. He is a member of the Board of Governors of the Aerospace Industries Association; the Civil Air Patrol, and a member of its Executive and Audit committees; The Wings Club Board; and a trustee of the Falcon Foundation, Kent School, and the National World War II Museum.
Whitman’s dedication to the armed services has been recognized by the United Services Organization (USO), a congressionally chartered private charity from World War II that is dedicated to “bringing a touch of home to men and women in uniform until everyone comes home.” Each year, the USO of Metropolitan New York hosts an Armed Forces Gala, during which it presents the Distinguished Service Award to selected citizens or organizations for exemplary leadership and service to the armed services. Whitman was among those honored in 2009, partly in recognition for his leadership in the passing of the Salute the Flag amendment, which established that all current armed forces members and veterans, uniformed or not, may render the military-style salute to our flag, when it is raised, or lowered, or passes by, or the national anthem is played.
During the award ceremony, he took the stage with four of the five living U.S. Air Force recipients of the Medal of Honor; Michael Lombardo, president of programming, Home Box Office, Inc.; and General Raymond T. Odierno, currently Commanding General, Multi-Force-Iraq (shown left with Whitman). In accepting the award, Whitman focused on his enduring passion for fostering patriotism and the values represented by the recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Whitman graduated from Kent School and Trinity College with a B.A. degree. While at Trinity he was on the varsity tennis team for three years and a member of Alpha Delta Phi fraternity. He served three years as a pilot on active duty in the U.S. Air Force and later flew in the Reserve. He also attended George Washington University Law School for two years. During that time, he was vice president of the Trinity College Washington Alumni Association.