Jay Donoghue, great aviation journalist, cleared usque ad coelum

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KJ Donoghue

A great man passed away this morning

Experienced Aviator, Technical maven, Respected Writer, Accomplished Editor

Good Guy who is already missed

….after a two year bout with glioblastoma, my father, Jay Donoghue. As I watched him being driven away to the crematorium, I wept for one reason above all others… missed chances to spend more time together while he was still here.

One of his favorite hobbies was flying his glider and taking friends and family on flights. He took me up once, and it was an amazing experience. He flew for many years, usually solo, and always brought up the fact that I should come fly with him again. My biggest regret is not taking him up on it every chance I got. Not just for the ride, but to be close to him and try to understand what it is to be as amazing as he was. Don’t make the same mistake I made. Cherish every moment and accept every opportunity you get with tho ones you love before it’s too late.

If I can make one request of you, my friends, please don’t pity me. When you inevitably see me at an upcoming burn, please don’t bring it up. Those of you who know me well know that I have a quiet way about things, and in this instance, in particular, please understand that I will mourn on my own time in my own way.

I love you all, and most of all, I love you dad. I will forever refer to your calm and gentle wisdom when confronted with life’s quandaries, and know that if I’m accurately transmuting your teachings, all will be well.

One day, Jay, my friend, called to talk about one of my posts. It did not matter that he found some fault with the text; it mattered that he thought enough of my scribblings to connect.

Aviation benefits from a number of writers who cover our industry. Few, however, carried the technical credentials which Jay earned.

  • S. Army helicopter pilot in the 1960s.







  • commercial pilot and flight instructor certificates
    • Freeway Airport, 1974 – 1976 .Taught Cessna, Piper, Mooney and Citabria. Previously taught ’72-’73 at Lexington, VA., a grass strip no longer there.
  • acquired 5,300 hours in the cockpits of 3,600 airplanes , 300 glider(favorite) and 1,400 helicopters.

[Jay noted that this air-to-air photograph was taken by Doug Kapustin, son of famous NTSB investigator Rudy Kapustin]


He earned an AS in Flight Technology from Florida Institute of Technology and a BS & BA in journalism and English from the University of Maryland

His journalism career was exemplary:

  • Aviation Daily



  • Air Transport World







  • Aviation Industry Group
  • Flight Safety Foundation






That is a career path defining the promotion of a professional skilled at his craft and in command of the complexities of aviation. Writing for the Flight Safety Foundation’s monthly magazine must have been most rewarding for Jay since he was free to explore the tough issues which the industry faced, and the Foundation studied.

In 2008 he was recognized with the Lauren “Deac” Lyman award for outstanding achievement in aviation journalism. Presenting the trophy was Jay DeFrank, vice president -communications of Pratt & Whitney, who said:

“Jay’s contributions to the aviation industry spans three decades. His stories on air safety and technical-related developments truly exemplify the standards and skills by which Deac Lyman[1] worked and lived.”


In an era in which Fake News is an accepted phenomenon, there was never any doubt that what Jay wrote was not only 1000% true but a 3600 report of everything relevant. A hyped headline or an overloaded opening sentence was not part of Jay’s journalism; True North was more than a navigational heading for him.

On thing is absolutely clear. This pilot, upon requesting clearance to his destination got a direct route usque ad coelum.


[1] Lauren Dwight “Deac” Lyman (April 24, 1891–July 12, 1972) was an American reporter and aviation writer. He worked for The New York Times from 1919 to 1937 and from 1937 to 1959 as a public relations executive for United Aircraft, a predecessor to United Technologies Corporation. He won a Pulitzer Prize in 1936 for “his exclusive story revealing that the Charles A. Lindbergh family was leaving the United States to live in England.”

Following his death in 1972, the former Aviation/Space Writers Association established the Lauren D. Lyman Award in his honor to be presented annually “for distinguished, career-long achievements in aviation journalism or public relations”. The Award is now administered by the Aerospace Industries Association.


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4 Comments on "Jay Donoghue, great aviation journalist, cleared usque ad coelum"

  1. William Voss | August 1, 2018 at 7:09 pm | Reply

    Thank you very much for this beautiful tribute to Jay. He was more than a friend. For a few short years we were partners. All of the wise words ever attributed to me passed through Jay’s kind editorial hands. I miss him terribly, and I am grateful for every day I knew him.

  2. Sandy Murdock | August 1, 2018 at 8:42 pm | Reply

    Bill, in reviewing the traces of this wonderful man’s career, there were several mentions of his friend and highly valued advisor, you. Your loss is palpable.

  3. So sorry to hear about Jay. As an alum of Florida Institute of Technology’s College of Aeronautics, he was recognized as our 2008 George M Skurla Outstanding Alumni. Well deserved recognition for his achievements in the field of aviation journalism.

  4. Sorry – got the date wrong, it was 2003 Jay received the award.

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