Learjet PR man Greenwood dies

Jim Greenwood, a former public relations director for Bill Lear and the man who helped make the name "Learjet" a household word, has died.

Greenwood, who was inducted into the Kansas Hall of Aviation in 2004, died Friday in Green Valley, Ariz.

"He wrote the book …on how do you promote business aviation, how do you sell business aviation, how do you communicate about business aviation," said Al Higdon, a lifelong friend who worked with Greenwood at Beech and Learjet. "He did that from the ’50s to the ’80s."

Greenwood had friends in all levels of the business jet industry – from CEOs to those who worked on the shop floor, Higdon said.

"He knew the industry inside and out," Higdon said. "He loved it, and he always did what was best for the industry at the time."

Greenwood came to Wichita in 1955 as manager of press relations for Beech Aircraft Corp., working closely with founding partner Olive Ann Beech and then president Frank Hedrick.

In 1964, he moved across town to work with Bill Lear at the Lear Jet Corp. There, his writing helped make the Learjet the most popular business jet of the 1960s, according to information from the Kansas Aviation Hall of Fame.

In 1970, he left to join the Federal Aviation Administration in Washington as its director of public affairs, the information said.

Greenwood developed business jet safety seminars and humanitarian projects using the Learjet. He later returned to Gates Learjet and retired in 1985 as senior vice president of corporate affairs.

Greenwood was born in 1920 in Washington, D.C., and began flying at age 16. He joined the Navy a week after Pearl Harbor, serving as a parachute rigger and helping develop emergency parachute equipment. After the Navy, Greenwood worked for a commercial parachute service in Alexandria, Va.

He then began a writing career, working as a journalist for the local newspaper in Alexandria. He also wrote three books, "Parachuting for Sport," "The Parachute: From Balloons to Skydiving" and "Stunt Flying in the Movies."

A memorial service for Greenwood will be held in the spring, Higdon said. A date has not been set.