Alexandria, VA, April 27, 2011 - The National Air Transportation Association (NATA) annually recognizes individuals, offices, and organizations demonstrating excellence in their field and the highest level of customer service. NATA's Industry Excellence Awards are given to exceptional individuals and organizations that have helped improve the general aviation community. This year's winners will be honored during the NATA Industry Excellence Awards Dinner on May 4 at the Hyatt Regency in Washington, D.C. The dinner will be held in conjunction with the association's Day on the Hill, Annual Meeting and Election of Officers, and Spring Committee Meetings.
Pat Epps, president of Epps Aviation, will be presented the William A. "Bill" Ong Memorial Award, named in honor and memory of the association's co-founder and first president and given for extraordinary achievement and extended meritorious service to the general aviation industry.
A native of Athens, Georgia, Epps graduated from Georgia Tech in 1956 and entered the U.S. Air Force in 1957. A distinguished graduate of Class 58L, he was the fifth of Ben Epps' sons to become a military pilot.
With over 10,000 flying hours as a commercial pilot and type ratings in North American B-25 Mitchell, Douglas DC-3, Learjet, and Cessna Citation, Epps continues to go "Above and Beyond." Epps has been recognized amongst the honorees of the 1998 Gatherings of Eagles, an international group setting standards and paving the way for future air and space power.
Epps led an 11-year quest to recover the Lost Squadron. In 1992, he succeeded in retrieving a WWII Lockheed P-38 Lightning buried beneath 265 feet of the Greenland ice cap. In June 1994, Epps piloted a friend's DC-3 to France. As he flew over Normandy, veteran War World II paratroopers jumped to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of D-Day landings.
In 2011 more recognition is bestowed on Pat Epps. In January, Epps received the Harrison Ford Aviation Legacy Award at the 8th Annual Living Legends of Aviation Awards event in Beverly Hills, California. Epps was also honored as an inductee into the Georgia Aviation Hall of Fame in April 2011.
"Epps Aviation continues to be one of the crown jewels in the FBO industry thanks to Pat and his leadership," stated NATA President James K. Coyne. "The NATA Board of Directors is absolutely thrilled to be able to present this award to such an aviation legend."
The NATA Award for Distinguished Service is given to an individual or organization still active in general aviation on a regular, day-to-day basis and recognizes outstanding service and ongoing contributions to the industry. This year's NATA Award for Distinguished Service will be presented to James C. Christiansen, whose involvement in the aviation community spans 46 years. His achievements from the late 80s to early 90s include managing a fleet of approximately 70 aircraft for Jet Aviation Business Jets as president of the company and serving as president for Executive Jet Aviation of Columbus, Ohio. Subsequently, he was recruited by the Rockefeller family to be president of its aircraft management company, Wayfarer Ketch, in White Plains, New York. While at Wayfarer, Christiansen and his team started a new fractional aviation company called StarShares. The company was eventually sold to TAG, where a 50/50 partnership with Cessna was formed creating CitationShares. Christiansen was a member of the board of directors of CitationShares. In 2001, Christiansen re-joined Executive Jet, now known as NetJets Inc., to undertake the project of bringing the NetJets fractional aircraft ownership product to existing corporate flight departments for supplemental lift. He was promoted to president of NetJets Aviation in January 2007. In March 2010, Christiansen was appointed vice president of sales, Central U.S. at Hawker Beechcraft, where he manages a sales team responsible for the sale of Hawker jets in the central U.S.
... and at the top of the list are two players who have had a significant impact on the aviation services sector, Pat Epps and Jim Christiansen. At the very least, the awards recognize gentlemen...
The recipients of the five awards are chosen based upon NATA member-submitted nominations.
Graves will receive NATA's William A. “Bill” Ong Memorial Award and Marian Epps is the recipient of NATA's Distinguished Service Award.
NATA presents seven awards to the exceptional individuals and companies that have helped to improve the general aviation community.