Thomas Carney, PhD
Tom Carney, a native of Crawfordsville, Indiana, dreamed of being a pilot from an early age. Like many a budding aviator, he built plastic aircraft models with his father, a World War II Army Air Corps veteran, pasting the box covers from the completed models onto his bedroom walls.
His love of airplanes only grew when he visited the Indianapolis Weir Cook airport with his father and mother, where, for 10 cents, he watched airplane operations from the airport’s observation deck.
He took his first light airplane ride in a Cessna 170 at Crawfordsville airport. But his official path to a 55-year flying career began in 1967 at age 18 when he was accepted into the Professional Pilot Program at Purdue University.
Tom was an excellent student and after graduation from the program in 1971 was hired as a temporary simulator instructor by fellow Aviation Hall of Fame member Jim Maris. He became a full time Purdue instructor in 1972, marking the start of a distinguished, 46-year career of teaching and flying with Purdue University.
During his time as both a professor and training captain with Purdue’s corporate aircraft fleet, Tom would earn Airline Transport Pilot and Flight Instructor Certificates, Advanced Ground and Instrument Instructor certificates, type ratings in the Mitsubishi Diamond and Raytheon Beechjet, and log over 11,000 flight hours.
But flying is only half of his story.
Tom Carney would combine his love of flying with his academic pursuits to become “Doctor Carney,” earning a Masters of Science degree in 1977 and a Doctorate in Atmospheric Science in 1984. Professor Carney’s primary scholarship areas include advanced aviation meteorology, high performance turbine operations, high altitude flight, and corporate flight department management, to which he added the authorship or co- co-authorship of more than 100 scholarly publications, while serving a senior editor of the Collegiate Aviation Review.
Professor Carney also utilized his academic and flying expertise as a member of a number of organizations relating to collegiate flight education and accreditation, aviation meteorology, corporate flight operations, as well as the International Civil Aviation Organization Next Generation of Aviation Professionals Task Force. He is a Certified Aviation Manager and the past chairman of the Certified Aviation Manager Governing Board of the National Business Aviation Association. Today, Dr. Carney remains active as a flight operations consultant and expert witness in flight operations and aviation meteorology litigation.
After serving as the Head of the Department of Aviation Technology, Tom retired from teaching at Purdue in 2018 and is now a Professor Emeritus.
Among the numerous awards in a distinguish aviation and academic career, Dr. Carney earned the FAA Wright Brothers Award, the Rudy Frasca Award for Professional Excellence, the James G. Dwyer award for outstanding undergraduate teaching in the School of Technology, the William A. Wheatley award by the University Aviation Association, and the Distinguished Science Alumnus award from the Purdue College of Science. He was among 225 men and women included in the inaugural Purdue University Book of Great Teachers.