As a U.S. naval aviator during World War II, William H. (Bill) Gregory cheated death more than once. Landing on the deck of an aircraft carrier in the Pacific Ocean, his Wildcat fighter missed the restraining wire, went off the deck, exploded and began sinking. He escaped. Reassigned later to fly a more powerful gull-winged F4U Corsair, he nearly was shot down by panicked Navy gunners when, in the midst of a kamikaze attack, they mistook his as a Japanese aircraft. After the war, Gregory earned a journalism degree and spent more than three decades at Aviation Week & Space Technology, including six years as editor-in-chief.

Death finally caught up with Gregory on Oct. 3 in Viera, Florida, near Cape Canaveral. He was 95.

Gregory joined Aviation Week in New York in 1956 as associate editor and was promoted to managing editor two years later. A space enthusiast and amateur geologist, he helped convince then editor-in-chief Robert B. Hotz to add “Space Technology” to the magazine’s name in 1958 and reported in detail on Apollo lunar sample discoveries. He was promoted to executive editor in 1972 and editor-in-chief in 1979, based in Washington.

“His tenure at the top of the masthead took place during a highly consequential period amid federal research and development cutbacks by outgoing President Jimmy Carter, followed by an aerospace renewal brought on by President Ronald Reagan’s administration,” recalls Craig Covault, a longtime Aviation Week editor who worked closely with Gregory and became his son-in-law. “The impact of airline deregulation was taking hold, and the space shuttle’s first flights occurred. Development also began on the Strategic Defense Initiative missile defense system. Bill editorialized on all these topics and warned about the dangers posed by Iran.”

In 1980, Gregory predicted that the FAA was “headed for trouble in the future in meeting its certification responsibilities because its engineering talent is sliding behind the industry it is supposed to regulate.” He also championed Aviation Week’s coverage of the embryonic commercial space industry. A 264-page issue in 1984 that focused on the commercialization of space won a prestigious Jesse H. Neal award, and Aviation Week’s coverage of the sector led its parent company, McGraw-Hill, to launch a new spinoff publication, Commercial Space. Gregory presented the first issue to Reagan in the White House. He later met fellow World War II naval pilot George H.W. Bush when Bush was president.

Donald E. Fink, Jr., succeeded him as editor-in-chief in 1985, but Gregory remained with the magazine as its Boston-based Northeast bureau chief until his retirement in 1987.

Gregory was born on April 14, 1924, in Kansas City, Missouri, and was interested in aviation from an early age. Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, he enlisted in the Navy, but since he was only 17, his mother had to accompany him to sign up. He entered flight training at Corpus Christi NAS in Texas and earned his wings as a naval aviator in 1944. He was assigned to the Navy Carrier Air Group 153/15 on board the aircraft carrier USS Coral Sea (later renamed the USS Anzio CVE-57) and flew Grumman F4F and General Motors FM-2 versions of the Wildcat fighter as well as the Vought F4U Corsair.

After earning a bachelor of science in journalism from Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, Gregory worked as a reporter for The Clinton Herald in Clinton, Iowa, and The Kansas City Star. During his career at Aviation Week, he won numerous journalism awards for his reporting on space, aviation and airlines.

Gregory is survived by Virginia, his wife of 73 years, four daughters and a son, seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. His two sisters, a son and one grandchild preceded him in death. A Catholic funeral mass is scheduled for Oct. 16, with interment at Cape Canaveral National Cemetery.

In  August 1979, in his first editorial after taking Aviation Week’s reins, Gregory laid out his operating principles. At the top of the list: “Get it right, technically right, and in perspective.”