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Friday, February 25, 2011

Capt. Jim Waugh, Gone West

I met and got to know Capt. Jim Waugh while working for his son, also named Jim, at FlightSafety International. He was an accomplished airman, and a good and thoughtful man whose career touched on many of the signal moments of modern aviation.
He was a young crewman aboard a Boeing 314 flying boat, then the most advanced and longest ranging aircraft. He flew Catalinas and C-54s throughout the World War II, carrying cargo in and wounded soldiers out. He transitioned Pan Am to long-range land planes, and eventually into the 707 and then Juan Trippe's magnificent gamble, the 747. Meanwhile, he moved into the executive ranks and eventually became head of all operations for what was at the time the most storied airline in the world.
And once done with Pan Am, he was installed as chairman of the Flight Safety Foundation, a natural fit since he had helped raise the bar of safety throughout his career and, oh, what a career it was.
But time cannot be denied. Capt. Waugh aged, endured a steady deterioration and today, I'm sorry to report, the gentleman captain has Gone West. He will be missed, but his legacy lives on in the safety procedures and tools he helped devise and disseminate into cockpits that today traverse every continent.
He's earned a salute and thank you from everyone who flies.


Jim Waugh, pilot

Capt. James C. Waugh, whose aviation career spanned nearly half a century, from crewing Pan American flying boats to heading all operations for the international carrier, and later serving as chairman of the Flight Safety Foundation, died Feb. 24, after a long illness. He was 89.
A native of Huntington, W. Va., Capt. Waugh learned to fly at the Queen City Flying Service in Cincinnati, Ohio, under the Civilian Pilot Training Program, a government effort to bolster pilot ranks on the eve of World War II.
In 1942 he joined Pan Am's Air Ferries division, which supplemented the air transport activities of both the U.S. Navy and U.S. Army Air Corps during the war.  He earned wings for both services as a result and received campaign medals for European, African and Middle East operations, transporting cargo and wounded soldiers in both the Catalina PB2Y-3R flying boat and C-54 landplane. He was an officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve from 1943 through 1958.
During his long career with Pan American, Capt. Waugh transitioned from the Boeing 314, a four-engine flying boat, through various piston-engine airliners, and finally into Boeing jetliners. He was one of the first airmen to receive an FAA type-rating in the Boeing 747.
Capt. Waugh moved into management in 1973, ultimately serving as senior vice president operations. He also served as chairman of the Air Transport Association's Flight Operations Council, and the International Air Transport Association's Technical Committee. After retiring from the airline, he took over the Flight Safety Foundation chairmanship in 1988.
An innovative and strategic thinker, Capt. Waugh focused on cockpit operational procedures and pilot training throughout his career. He is credited with introducing or promoting many of the piloting tools considered essential today, from checklists influenced by human factors studies, and high-fidelity simulator training, to developing an operations manual noted throughout the world for its clarity and comprehensiveness.
For his many contributions to improving aviation safety, the Flight Safety Foundation presented Capt. Waugh with the Aviation Week & Space Technology Distinguished Service Award, and the National Aeronautics Association honored him with its Elder Statesman of Aviation Award.
Capt. Waugh is survived by Mary Maxine Prockter Waugh, his wife of 67 years, as well as his children, Barbara Waugh of Oakland, Calif., Jim Waugh of Greenwich, Conn.; Betsy Toro and Meg Koc, both of Cary, N.C.; as well as six grandchildren and two great grandchildren.  

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