David Blankenship, 1934-2020

David Blankenship, former president and chairman of the Air Force Association, died Jan. 19.

Blankenship grew up in Oklahoma and attended Oklahoma Military Academy, now known as Rogers State University. He served as a pilot in the Air Force, both on Active Duty and as a Reservist. He joined North American Aviation in 1962 and remained with the company as it transitioned to becoming Rockwell International and ultimately part of Boeing. An executive in staffing and government relations, Blankenship helped organize the B-1B bomber program at Rockwell’s Tulsa, Okla., facilities.

He held various leadership positions in AFA culminating in his election as president from 1982-1984, and chairman of the board from 1984-1985. He led the selection of a new site for AFA’s headquarters in Arlington, Va., and presided over the building’s construction and dedication.

In retirement, Blankenship served on the board of the Central Bank of Oklahoma. Among many honors, he was awarded the National Defense Service Medal in 1962, and in 1967 received both the Air Force Exceptional Service Medal and was named one of the Outstanding Men of America.