November 25, 2009
By Elizabeth A Tennyson
Edward W. Stimpson, one of the founders of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association and a dedicated general aviation advocate, died Nov. 25 following an extended illness.
Stimpson spent his entire career championing GA and played an important role in winning product liability reform, an effort that led to the General Aviation Revitalization Act of 1994. President Bill Clinton later appointed him the U.S. ambassador to the International Civil Aviation Organization, where he served from 1999 to 2004.
“Ed was truly one of the greatest GA advocates of all time,” said AOPA President Craig Fuller. “He firmly believed in the value and utility of general aviation, and he dedicated his life to promoting, protecting, and preserving GA. His loss will be keenly felt throughout the aviation community.”
Stimpson worked closely with AOPA on numerous GA causes, including liability reform and the Be A Pilot program to grow the pilot population.
“He was a ‘class act’ to all of us who knew and worked with him,” said Phil Boyer, who served as AOPA president for 18 years before retiring in 2008. “He was my mentor when it came to working the halls of Congress on behalf of general aviation. When I was new to the ways of the nation's capital, Ed took me under his wing with introductions, advice, and techniques that served the members of AOPA on important aviation legislative affairs. He was a great, honest, and sincere friend to all who knew him.”
Through much of the 1960s, Stimpson served as FAA assistant administrator of congressional relations. When GAMA was launched in 1970, he was one of its founding staff members, serving initially as vice president. He went on to become the organization’s president, a post he held for more than two decades before becoming vice chairman of GAMA in 1996.
He also served on the board of Embry Riddle Aeronautical University for 20 years, including seven as chairman, and held numerous advisory positions in government and the GA industry.
Stimpson received dozens of prestigious awards for his work, including the Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy and the FAA’s Extraordinary Service Award.
Director of Government Affairs and Executive Communications Elizabeth Tennyson joined AOPA in 1998, the same year she earned her private pilot certificate. She also holds an instrument rating and enjoys jumping out of planes almost as much as flying them.
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