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.
Ronald Donner, editor of Aircraft Maintenance Technology (AMT) magazine, will receive the Aviation Journalism Award.
Van Gemert, Ballough, and five others receive top NATA honors.
Pat Epps will be presented the William A. "Bill" Ong Memorial Award during the NATA Industry Excellence Awards Dinner on May 4 at the Hyatt Regency in Washington, D.C.
The recipients of the five awards are chosen based upon NATA member-submitted nominations.