Aviation Inventor, CAN Co-Founder Was 86
He was an accomplished
and prolific inventor... but above all, perhaps, Dr. Leonard Greene
was a humanitarian.
The impact Greene had on aviation can't be measured solely in
the hundreds of inventions he created, or the number of patents he
held... and he held many. It was Greene who brought us such
commonplace -- and vital -- safety devices like the stall warning
indicator, and the wind shear warning system.
"If Elmer Sperry showed aircraft pilots the way home, it was
Leonard Greene who insured our safe arrival," said US Senator John
Noted CBS broadcaster Walter Cronkite echoed that sentiment,
saying "There is scarcely a flying machine built today that does
not include his devices to enhance safety. And surely thousands of
lives have been saved through their use."
Greene also won many awards, including the 1996 Award for
Meritorious Service to Aviation from the National Business Aviation
Association. In its presentation, the NBAA noted that during World
War II, Greene presented a paper to the Institute of Aeronautical
Sciences offering a theory on breaking the sound barrier -- a
theory that set forth some of the principles on which the ultimate
Mach 1 breakthrough was based.
In 1996, Greene patented a design for a supersonic transport
aircraft with virtually no sonic boom, and a new type of
powerplant, the turbo/ram jet engine, to power it. Boeing bought
the rights to both breakthroughs.
But Greene also had a higher calling. In 1981, he co-founded the
Corporate Angel Network, a not-for-profit organization that offers
empty seats onboard corporate jets, for free, so cancer patients
may travel to receive treatment. It was Greene himself who flew the
first CAN flight that year, bringing a patient home to Detroit from
treatment in New York.
Today, 530 companies offer seats on their planes to the
Corporate Angel Network, and the charity flies more than 2,500
cancer patients annually.
Sadly, the very disease he set out to defeat claimed Dr.
Greene's life in the end. Greene died November 30, after a long
battle with cancer.
We've no doubt he is now soaring high, however, at the controls
of his plane... with every seat onboard filled with people in most
need of a lift.