Joseph William Gibson III (Bill)
June 22, 1935 – May 27, 2021
Bill Gibson was the son of Dorothy E. Harper and Joseph Gibson and was raised in Silver Spring, Maryland. His siblings are Mary Frances Dunn, Robert Gibson (deceased), Florence Derx, Ann Marie Kohovich (deceased), and Patricia Bond. His children are Joseph W. Gibson IV (Buddy), Bruce Douglas Gibson (deceased), Denise Marie Gibson, and Marcia Lynn Wright. His grandchildren are Max Matthews, Indigo Matthews, and Melissa Brown. Bill lived with his best friend and co-pilot, Leslie Gibson.
Born to Fly
The Aviation Career of Bill Gibson
Bill Gibson was born in 1935 as the oldest boy in a family of six children. For the sake of his devout mother, he attended Catholic school for twelve years. After graduating from St. Michael’s, he earned his entire tuition and uniform expenses for St. John’s College High School with a paper route and odd jobs. He learned to thrive in the disciplined environment of the military program of the Christian Brothers’ school, and it prepared him for success as a Marine. In boot camp at Paris Island, he was chosen as platoon leader and was awarded his first stripe. After earning the Outstanding Recruit Award, the Dress Blues Award, and setting records on the rifle range, he was selected by his Commanding General to serve on the Marine Corps Rifle and Pistol Team based at Quantico, VA for the next several years.
When he returned to civilian life, Bill worked for the Nationwide Insurance agency owned by his parents. He soon became its principal workforce as his parents both succumbed to long-term bouts with terminal cancer. Eventually, he bought the agency from his parents and paid them a monthly installment for the rest of their lives.
The absolute joy of Bill’s life was flying. He carried a passion for aviation since childhood when he watched airplanes fly regularly over his house on the approach path to Washington National Airport. He fulfilled his dream as a young adult by learning to fly, earning numerous ratings in a variety of aircraft. As a flight instructor, he had a knack for instilling in his students the exceptional standards he always practiced himself. His dedication to safe flying was manifest in his positions as a Gold Seal Flight Instructor and as an FAA Aviation Safety Counselor. Later he flew commercial air charter flights and attained type ratings in jet aircraft.
In 1978, Bill founded Gibson Aviation, Inc., which became the Fixed Base Operator of Montgomery County Airpark in Gaithersburg, Maryland, the airfield where he learned to fly. His company and its 60 employees were responsible for the hangars and tie-downs, the fuel concession and the maintenance facilities for 400 aircraft based there. Gibson Aviation also operated a Cessna Aircraft dealership, an active flight school with over 200 students, and an air charter operation that grew from a single-engine Beechcraft Debonair to a fleet including King Air turboprops, helicopters and Learjets. After five hardworking years, the company gave up the airport management in favor of devoting its efforts exclusively to its air charter operation, which continued to serve the Washington area successfully for many years. Bill served as Chief Pilot and as Director of Operations and Training for his staff of pilots and he flew many trips himself.
Bill’s dedicated approach to flying well entailed deeply ingrained habits that he passed along to others. He believed in thorough preparation for a flight that allowed him to make good decisions under pressure. He called it stacking the odds in his favor as he planned for contingencies with a revolving set of back-up plans to cope with machines and weather that are often in a state of flux. He strove to think ahead of air traffic controllers, ahead of the weather, and ahead of the aircraft. His technique involved a high regard for precision and increasingly smaller corrections in a constant pursuit of perfection: the perfect altitude; the perfect landing; the perfect flight.
Bill had a history of almost 50 years of flying and 25,000 hours in the sky. He flew a variety of aircraft large and small, including jets, seaplanes, gliders and helicopters. He educated other pilots on all levels, as well as testing their skills as an FAA Designated Examiner and as Chief Pilot of his air charter company. Bill Gibson was an exemplary pilot, evidenced not only by his impeccable credentials and spotless safety record, but by the admiration of fellow pilots whom he mentored, including many who now fly for major airlines. His passion for flying never waned. The sky was his home.
Bill Gibson, President
Gibson Aviation, Incorporated
Motivate myself and others to pursue personal excellence in air safety and time management with emphasis on pride and integrity, thereby improving the quality of life for all GAI air charter customers and associates.
Do what’s right.
Do it the best I can.
Treat others as I would have them treat me.