Bill Gibbs Dies at 106; San Diego Aviation Pioneer
November 2, 2016
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  • A Nov. 21 memorial service is planned for William “Bill” Gibbs, a San Diego aviation pioneer whose name adorns a local airport.

    Gibbs died at his La Jolla home Saturday at the age of 106, about two weeks after suffering a stroke, his son told City News Service

    “It was very peaceful, just like the hospice people said it would (be),” said Buzz Gibbs, who noted that his centenarian father lived a full life and “didn’t get cheated.”

    In 1937, Bill Gibbs bought 25 acres of land for $250 and established the Gibbs Field airport, which was later taken over by the city and named in honor of John J. Montgomery, a physicist and inventor who experimented with gliders in the 1880s in Otay Mesa and made important discoveries about the effects of lift on wings.

    In January, the City Council voted to rename the general aviation facility in Kearny Mesa “Montgomery-Gibbs Executive Airport.”

    The Gibbs family operates an aviation business at the airport.

    Buzz Gibbs said his father saw the new airport sign with his name and was “very appreciative” of the gesture.

    The Nov. 21 memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. at La Jolla Presbyterian Church.

    Four days earlier, the San Diego Air & Space Museum will pay tribute to Gibbs at its annual Hall of Fame gala. Legendary stunt pilot Robert “Bob” Hoover, who died at 94 last month near Los Angeles, will also be honored.

    Both are International Air & Space Hall of Fame inductees.

    “The International Air & Space Hall of Fame is honored to pay special tribute to two of America’s aviation legends in Bob Hoover and Bill Gibbs,” said Jim Kidrick, president and CEO of the San Diego Air & Space Museum. “Bill and Gibbs Flying Service are true San Diego aviation institutions.”

    Gibbs is survived by two sons, three grandchildren and three great- grandchildren.

    — City News Service