A Tribute To Bizav Veteran Gil Wolin

Gil Wolin
Credit: Business Aviation Advisor

The business aviation industry is mourning the passing of Gil Wolin, a 40-year aviation veteran and the former publisher of Aviation Week’s Business & Commercial Aviation, A/C Flyer and Show News. Wolin, of Wayland, Massachusetts, died Sept. 5 following a brief illness. 

Wolin, 71, the middle of three generations of business aviation professionals, grew up around aircraft. His father, Bob Wolin, was vice president of U.S. marketing for Learjet when Gil joined the company in the early 1970s, working in market research, after graduating from Lafayette College. 

Wolin then led sales and marketing efforts at Executive Jet Aviation, now NetJets, before joining Combs Gates/AMR Combs, a chain of fixed base operators, as vice president of marketing. He held the position of president of Denver-based Mayo Aviation, a charter aircraft and management company, before serving as BCA publisher for McGraw-Hill, a position he held from 1999-2003. (BCA is now part of the Aviation Week Network owned by Informa.) 

After BCA, Wolin became vice president of corporate communications with TAG Aviation USA. In 2009, he founded Wolin Aviation Consulting to help business aviation service providers with their marketing services. In 2013, he co-founded Business Aviation Advisor magazine with his wife, Gail Shapiro, and partner Ray Ringston. 

William Garvey, who served as BCA editor-in-chief from 2000-20, worked with Wolin for more than three years. 

“Upon joining BCA in 2000, I was immediately and thoroughly impressed with Gil’s knowledge about the players and ways of business aviation, subjects in which he held a virtual PhD,” Garvey says. “He seemed to know everyone and had a telling and typically funny story about each. Walking the aisles of the NBAA convention with him was like entering a grand and happy class reunion.” 

Fred George, former BCA chief pilot, said Wolin created a fun and stable work environment. 

“It wasn’t just professional, but it was fun and light and bright in that there was never tension associated with Gil,” George says. “He just got things done. He found a way to laugh off adversity and make the work environment a happy place.”

Al Higdon, a former Learjet professional and co-founder of Sullivan, Higdon & Sink, a Wichita advertising firm now called Signal Theory, exchanged emails with Wolin over the Labor Day weekend. They had stayed friends since working together at Learjet. 

“His contacts throughout the industry were among the best I’ve known,” Higdon says. “He knew everybody and made it his business to stay in touch with them.” His contributions to the industry were unlimited, he adds. 

Ed Bolen, National Business Aviation Association president and CEO, called Wolin a “stalwart” in the industry.

“Gil’s passing comes as a great loss for the business aviation community,” Bolen says. “He set an example as a friend, a mentor and an industry champion. Through his words and actions, he made us better.”

Wolin was a member of NBAA, the Massachusetts Airport Management Association and Business Aviation Professionals of New England. He previously served on Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Presidential Advisory Board, as a director of the National Air Transportation Association and as a member of the Corporate Angel Network Advisory Board. 

Wolin was a catalyst for change in the industry,” says Curt Castagna, NATA president and CEO. “Gil’s passion, wisdom and dedication will be remembered for years to come. Time with Gil was always time well spent. He will be greatly missed.” 

He is survived by his wife, Gail Shapiro, five stepchildren, five grandchildren and one great-granddaughter.


Molly McMillin

Molly McMillin, a 25-year aviation journalist, is managing editor of business aviation for the Aviation Week Network and editor-in-chief of The Weekly of Business Aviation, an Aviation Week market intelligence report.