Business aviation trailblazer Charles “Chuck” McKinnon, who was the founder and long-time manager of IBM’s flight department, died March 30 in his hometown of Trussville, Alabama. He was 101.
“Chuck McKinnon was a trailblazer for business aviation,” said NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen. “The industry would not be the same without a visionary like him. He worked tirelessly to promote the many benefits and opportunities [of] business aviation, both in the U.S. and abroad.”
During his career, he flew four U.S. presidents, two kings and several astronauts. NBAA presented its John P. “Jack” Doswell Award to McKinnon in 2010 in recognition of his lifelong individual achievement in support of business aviation.
McKinnon was predeceased by his first wife of 66 years, Mary, in 2004; and his second wife, Janice K. Barden, founder of Aviation Personnel International.
In 1954, McKinnon joined IBM to found the flight department. He flew the company’s first business aircraft, a twin-engine piston Aero Commander, which transported engineers to various sites across the country. He led the department until his retirement in 1977.