ALEXANDRIA, VA -- 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 in a ceremony during NATA's Air Charter Summit and FBO Leadership Conference on June 10 at the Westfields Marriott in Dulles, VA.
Richard (Dick) Van Gemert receives NATA's highest honor, the William A. Ong Memorial Award -- named in honor and memory of Bill Ong, NATA's co-founder and its first president. Van Gemert is being honored for extraordinary achievement and extended meritorious service to the general aviation industry. His illustrious aviation career began in 1960 when he earned his wings and joined the Naval Patrol Squadron 47. After a short stint as a development engineer for Blackmer, he returned to the skies in 1966 when he joined Xerox as a first officer flying the Lockheed Jetstar. He later became chief pilot and then manager of travel services. He was then promoted to director of general services at Xerox.
In 1991, he retired from Xerox and joined KC Aviation as executive vice president of transportation services. In 1996, KC Transportation Services was sold and he joined an investor and started New World Jet, where he served as president until 2006. During this time, he joined the NATA Board of Directors and became a member of the Air Charter Safety Foundation Executive Committee.
In 1978, he was selected as Ziff Davis Corporate Pilot of the Year for demonstrating leadership in integrating modern management practices into corporate aviation. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Van Gemert held several leadership positions on boards and committees at Flight Safety Foundation, NBAA, and International Flight Safety Foundation.
"Without question, Dick Van Gemert is an icon in our industry. Dick's counsel, support and dedication to the general aviation community is surpassed by few and valued by many. It is a privilege to recognize his lifelong achievements with NATA's highest honor, the William A. Ong Memorial Award," says NATA President James K. Coyne.
This year's NATA's Distinguished Service Award, recognizing outstanding service and ongoing contributions to the industry, goes to the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) former long-time director of the Flight Standards Service, James J. Ballough. He joined the FAA in August 1986 and was appointed director, Flight Standards Service in December 2001. Flight Standards is responsible for promoting the safety of flight for civil aircraft by setting regulations and standards for air carriers, air agencies, general aviation, airmen, and designees. It also is responsible for the certification, inspection, surveillance, investigation, and enforcement of the Federal Aviation Regulations. In addition, the organization manages the aircraft and airmen official registry system. As director, Ballough was involved in such issues as Part 135 operational control, continued airworthiness and the development of the Sport Pilot and Light Sport Aircraft regulations. Before this appointment, he served as the acting manager, Continuous Maintenance Division, at the FAA Washington headquarters.