FlightSafety emerged at a time when training was not emphasized, CEO says

Bruce Whitman, FlightSafety CEO
Bruce Whitman, FlightSafety CEO Courtesy photo

In a short speech Wednesday to the Wichita Aero Club, FlightSafety chief executive Bruce Whitman covered a range of topics, including offering wisdom developed over his 55 years at the training and simulation company, including 13 as its CEO.

Whitman said that when he joined FlightSafety in 1961, 10 years after its founding, training for seasoned pilots was not an emphasis in the aviation industry.

“My job was to convince people to train,” he said. “… In those years people believed they didn’t need to train.”

Still, his boss, FlightSafety founder Al Ueltschi, insisted it was Whitman’s job to do just that.

“He would never accept ‘No,’ ” Whitman said.

To pay for the company’s first business aircraft simulator for the Gulfstream I, Whitman said, FlightSafety sold customers blocks of simulator time that they had to pay for in advance.

Today, he said, the company has 320 simulators and has trained 125,000 pilots in 36 countries. FlightSafety operates five learning centers, with simulators, in Wichita.

“FlightSafety has come a long way and it’s not due to the technology, it’s due to the caliber of teammates we have,” Whitman said.

Whitman said his long career at FlightSafety can be attributed to the fact that he enjoys the work he does.

“The most important thing is doing what you like with the people you like to do it with,” he said.

And the part of the job he enjoys the most?

“I like to recognize (employees) and I like to promote,” he said.

Jerry Siebenmark: 316-268-6576, @jsiebenmark