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Passing of a Legend, NAFI Founder Jack Eggspuehler Dies

Jack Jay Eggspuehler, pilot, educator, restaurateur and founder of the National Association of Flight Instructors, passed away April 30 with his three sons at his side. He was 86 years old.
He was born on March 12, 1930 in Des Moines, Iowa. He was a member of the Linworth United Methodist Church for 56 years. He graduated from Rock Island High School in 1948. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Illinois in 1954 and continued his education there with a Masters of Education. While in Champaign he met his wife, Joan Margaret Bye.

He began his flying career in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War from 1951-1953, and served a long tenure as a flight instructor and professor of aviation at The Ohio State University before retiring from there in 1980. While at OSU, from 1958-1980, he was the president of The Ohio State University Faculty Club and helped raise $11 million for the University's Endowment Fund. He also founded several iconic restaurants in Ohio, and had a long career in banking. He was a longtime director of Heartland Bank, and was a proud member of the Quiet Birdmen. He also had a home in Cape Coral, Florida.

Jack J. Eggspuehler
Eggspuehler was a part of the U.S.-Soviet Pilot Exchange in 1972, 1976 and 1978 leading a group of flight instructors to meet with their counterparts in the early days of Détente.

In 1967, Eggspuehler led a small group of aviation professionals to create the National Association of Flight Instructors (NAFI) with the intent of providing national recognition of the professional flight instructor. He served as the organization's president for 30 years. After his retirement from NAFI's Board of Directors in 2000, Jack was named president emeritus of the organization.

In addition to his long association with NAFI, Eggspuehler served as president of Aerosafe Inc., a consulting firm working with defense attorneys in aviation lawsuits.  Aerosafe, which was founded in partnership with his wife Joan, who predeceased him in 2008, also provided worldwide correspondence courses primarily to help military personnel pass their FAA examinations.

Founder Jack Eggspuehler with NAFI's John Niehaus

Eggspuehler was the recipient of many awards and honors in his distinguished career. He was a member of the Flight Instructor Hall of Fame. He was the recipient of the Aviation Week & Space Technology Distinguished Service Award, for "distinguished service in achieving safer utilization of aircraft," and was also recipient of the EAA's Chairman's Award.

The National Aeronautic Association selected Eggspuehler in 2000 to receive its prestigious "Elder Statesman of Aviation Award." In announcing that award, NAA said: "Mr. Eggspuehler's name is synonymous with a lifelong pursuit of commercial and general aviation safety through education." Other awards included the Flight Safety Award for Distinguished Service for achievement of safer utilization of aircraft, the University Aviation Association Wheatley Award in recognition of outstanding contributions to aviation education, and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) Meritorious Award for outstanding contributions to flight safety.

Eggspuehler was one of the first FAA Designated Pilot Examiners to be granted authority to conduct initial flight instructor practical tests. He was also among the first to be appointed as an FAA Designated Written Test Examiner. He also served as chairman of the national panel to review pilot training and certification on the FAA Designated Pilot Examiner's Committee.

Jack Eggspuehler with EAA's Sean Elliot. Elliot was NAFI's First Executive Director

In nominating him to the Flight Instructor Hall of Fame in 2002, Sandy and JoAnn Hill wrote: "He has never received industry recognition for his greatest contribution to aviation -- his mentoring. We have known Jack for 25 years. Throughout those years, he has been a mentor to us and to so many others! His deep commitment to expanding the base of aviation is evidenced by giving so freely of himself to help create opportunities for young people interested in careers in aviation. From him, legions of people ranging from beginning student pilots to aviation professionals with thousands of hours have learned about the world of flight. As a result of their associations with Jack, these people also learned firsthand the value of a sense of humor as well as the qualities it takes to be a truly effective educator."

In 2015, the Board of Directors of the National Association of Flight Instructors honored its founder with its newly created Lifetime Achievement Award. At that time NAFI Board Chair Bob Meder said: "... he has helped raise the professional standards for the flight instructor. Perhaps more important, he has provided a venue that, for nearly 50 years, encourages instructors to educate each other, helping make aviation better for all. This award is merely a small token for the true appreciation we have for Jack's efforts."

NAFI Chairman Emeritus Ken Hoffman with Jack Eggspuehler at the Hall of Fame Ceremony.

NAFI's Jack J. Eggspuehler Service Award, named in his honor, is presented annually to an individual or organization making a significant contribution to flight instructors, flight instruction or aviation education.

He was chairman of the Department of Aviation at The Ohio State University and after retiring was Faculty Emeritus in Aerospace Engineering at the Center for Aviation Studies at The Ohio State University College of Engineering.

On his Florida dock with his friend Ken Hoffman

Eggspuehler co-authored two books, "Studies of Pilot Performance in the Flight Environment," published by Ohio State University, and "Study to Determine the Flight Profile and Mission of the Certificated Private Pilot," published by the FAA.

An accomplished pilot and teacher, Eggspuehler held the following FAA certificates and ratings: Airline Transport Pilot, Commercial Pilot, Multiengine Land, Single-engine Land and Sea, Rotorcraft-Helicopter and Private Glider, as well as Flight Instructor/Airplane Single and Multiengine and Instrument. He also held a Ground Instructor Certificate with Meteorology and Radio Navigation Certificates.

He is survived by his three sons Jay, Pete and Brad; and grandchildren Kaia, Jake and Sedora.

Jay, Jack, and Brad Eggspuehler at his Brazenhead Pub opening in 2005.

Visitation will be at Rutherford-Corbin Funeral Homes, 515 High Street, Worthington, Ohio from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, May 3rd.

The funeral will be at the Linworth United Methodist Church, 7070 Bent Tree Blvd., Columbus, Ohio at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, May 4th. Graveside services will follow at Sunset Cemetery on US 40, 6959 W Broad St, Galloway, Ohio.  Those attending the services at the church may follow the procession.

The celebration of Jack's life will continue at the Brazenhead Pub, 56 North High Street, Dublin, Ohio.

In lieu of flowers, his family says contributions may be made to: the E. Dorothy Peterson & Joan Bye Eggspuehler Memorial Scholarship Fund at Augustana College, Rockford, IL; (www.augustana.edu), the Linworth United Methodist Church (http://linworthumc.org); and NAFI (www.nafifoundation.org/donations).

About NAFI
The National Association of Flight Instructors' members work at flight schools, universities, FBOs, corporate flight departments, in the military and as independent instructors. NAFI was founded in 1967 and its members, who now teach in 17 countries, are dedicated to raising and maintaining the professionalism of flight instruction.

NAFI members influence active pilots daily: pilots training to advance their skills with new ratings or certificates and students working to become pilots. NAFI staff also works with industry and government and serves as a voice for flight instruction. NAFI helps shape the direction of flight training.

For more information visit NAFINet.org or call 866-806-6156.