Gilbert W. Speed, the founder of SpeedNews publications and conferences, a sister business of Aviation Week, died Jan. 27 after a long illness. He was 81.
Speed had a storied career in the aviation and aerospace industries that stretched more than 60 years. He started as a student apprentice at The Bristol Aeroplane Company – now part of BAE Systems – in 1952. Five years later, he moved to New York to work for Eastern Airlines as a development engineer for the DC-8 and Lockheed Electra.
In 1959, he joined Pan Am as a structures engineer, and later became an aeronautical engineer. While at the airline, he worked on specifications for the Boeing 727 and 707 Freighter, Concorde, and Dassault Fanjet Falcon. In 1968 Speed founded Transequip, which manufactured composite panels, cargo and baggage containers and cargo systems. He sold his interests in the company – now part of Telair International – in 1978.
The following year, he founded the SpeedNews newsletter, which was later joined by SpeedNews Defense Biweekly and Aircraft Insider. The first SpeedNews conference, an annual aviation industry suppliers event, was launched in 1987. SpeedNews was sold to Prism Business Media in 2006, which in turn was acquired by Penton in 2007. Penton acquired Aviation Week in 2013.