Alexandria, VA, April 7, 2010 - 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 April 21 at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce 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.
Gary Driggers, long-time executive at Midcoast Aviation, will be presented with the William A. "Bill" Ong Memorial Award. Driggers, a former NATA chairman and member of the board of directors, recently retired from Midcoast Aviation after 22 years of service. As senior vice president, Driggers was responsible for managing key customer and vendor relationships and was the company's face to industry organizations and OEMs. He started his career in aviation when he served his country as a helicopter pilot during the Vietnam War. Before joining Midcoast Aviation in 1988, he had been a client of the St. Louis-based MRO and completions center. During his tenure, Driggers served Midcoast Aviation in various senior management functions, with the company growing from 100 to 1,500 employees.
"Gary is a long-time supporter and friend of the association and this great industry," stated NATA President James K. Coyne. "Gary played an instrumental part in the growth of Midcoast Aviation as well as in the development of NATA's Safety 1st program as an early program advocate and founding member. The NATA Board of Directors is honored to commemorate Gary's devotion to our industry by bestowing upon him the association's highest honor, the William A. "Bill" Ong Memorial Award."
The NATA Award for Distinguished Service will be presented to the Honorable Jerry Costello (D-IL), Chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Aviation. Costello, a supporter of the general aviation community for many years, began his career shortly after his graduation from high school, working full time as a law enforcement officer while attending college. After graduating from Maryville University, Costello became recognized throughout the state for his creativity and ability in administering the region's court services system. In 1980, he was elected chairman of the St. Clair County Board, chief executive for one of Illinois' largest counties. He took that experience to Congress in August 1988. As a senior Democrat on the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and the second-ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Science and Technology, Costello has had a prominent role in writing several major pieces of legislation while focusing on improving the transportation infrastructure of our nation and his district. Costello is currently in his third year as chairman of the House Subcommittee on Aviation. In 2007, he wrote and led passage of the $68 billion bill in the House to reauthorize the programs of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to ensure that this nation's air transportation system remains the safest in the world.
"The NATA Board of Directors is deeply honored to celebrate the many outstanding legislative accomplishments achieved by Chairman Costello," stated Coyne. "Chairman Costello's drive to advance aviation safety and implement NextGen, in addition to his steadfast leadership in shepherding an FAA Reauthorization bill void of user fees, makes him the perfect choice as this year's recipient of NATA's Distinguished Service Award."
AINalerts will receive the Aviation Journalism Award that identifies a journalist, writer, or publication excelling in consumer education or editorial support that is beneficial to the FBO/Air Charter industry. AINalerts, a twice-weekly e-newsletter from Aviation International News is sent to more than 35,000 subscribers and covers business aviation news, policy/regulation, safety, security and other related topics. This includes information key to NATA's charter operator, FBO and maintenance members.
The South Florida FSDO-19 will be the recipient of NATA's FAA Customer Service Excellence Award and will be recognized as an FAA facility representing the highest degree of customer service and elevating the quality of interaction between the FAA and aircraft maintenance and repair facilities, Part 135 certificate holders, airport service organizations, and flight schools.
The ATP/NATA General Aviation Service Technician Award acknowledges the exceptional performance of a licensed airframe and power plant mechanic or radio repairman who has practiced his or her craft for a period of 20 or more years. Pat James, long-time Cessna Aircraft Company employee, has been named as this year's recipient. Eric J. Frankl, executive director of Blue Grass Airport in Lexington, Kentucky, is this year's recipient of the NATA Airport Executive Partnership Award, sponsored by Airport Business Magazine. The Airport Executive Partnership Award recognizes an airport manager for his or her outstanding efforts to foster relationships between aviation businesses and airport operators. Recipients of the award must illustrate leadership in the "partnership" between airport operators and airport tenants.
Arlynn McMahon will be this year's recipient for the Excellence In Pilot Training Award for her outstanding contributions in safety, professionalism, leadership, and excellence in the field of pilot training.
"The NATA Industry Excellence Awards Dinner on April 21 will surely be an evening to remember for these outstanding awardees," stated Coyne. "With the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as the backdrop and Tom Donohue, the Chamber's president and CEO, addressing many issues vital to our members, we are looking forward to a fantastic dinner."