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Mon, Feb 09, 2004

RIP: Jerome Lederer

Aviation Pioneer Saw It All From Lindbergh To Launch Pad

Jerome Lederer dedicated his life to making flight -- in all its variations -- safer. Beginning in the pioneering days of air mail, Lederer went on to help one air mail pilot -- Charles Lindbergh -- inspect the Spirit of St. Louis one day before Lucky Lindy made the first transatlantic flight.

"I did not have too much hope that he would make it," Lederer admitted years later. "I just went out because I was a friend of his, and I wanted to see the airplane, to look the situation over."

Lederer (pictured above, at left) died Friday of heart failure in Laguna Hills (CA). He was 101 years old.

In 1947, Lederer founded the Flight Safety Foundation, a non-profit group dedicated to making flying safer. Over a span of five decades, Lederer also instituted NASA's Office Of Manned Space Flight Safety, an effort born after the tragic Apollo I launchpad fire in 1967. He helped develop the flight voice and flight data recorders that are now required on most commercial passenger flights.

"Jerry was a realist," astronaut Neil Armstrong said years ago. "He recognized that flight without risk was flight without progress. But he spent a lifetime minimizing that risk."

FMI: www.flightsafety.org

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