NATA Gives Top Honors To Congressman Sam Graves And NATA Treasurer Marian Epps

Alexandria, VA, February 5, 2014 – The National Air Transportation Association (NATA) is pleased to announce Congressman Sam Graves, Chairman of the House Small Business Committee will receive NATA’s William A. “Bill” Ong Memorial Award and Marian Epps, Chief Financial Officer of Epps Aviation is the recipient of NATA’s Distinguished Service Award.
NATA annually recognizes individuals or organizations demonstrating the highest levels of support for general aviation and leadership excellence. Congressman Graves and Ms. Epps will join five other awardees of Industry Excellence Awards categories for a ceremony during NATA’s Aviation Business & Legislative Conference on March 3rd at the Gaylord National Resort & Conference Center at National Harbor, Maryland.

The William A. Ong Memorial Award – NATA’s highest honor – is named in memory of Bill Ong, NATA's co-founder and its first president. Congressman Graves will be recognized for extraordinary achievement and extended meritorious service to the general aviation industry.

Chairman Graves is a small businessman and an accomplished pilot. He has more than 3,000 hours of flight time. In addition to chairing the Small Business Committee, he also serves on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee as a prominent member of the Subcommittee on Aviation. Graves co-chairs the General Aviation Caucus – one of the largest, bi-partisan caucuses in the U.S. House of Representatives. Through his work with the General Aviation Caucus, issues such as the pilot and mechanic shortage, funding for general aviation projects, the ongoing battle over user fees, illegal aircraft searches by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and many others are being addressed.

"Congressman Graves’ credentials as a small business owner and his efforts as a strong general aviation advocate make him uniquely and undoubtedly the perfect choice for NATA’s highest honor, the William A. Ong Memorial Award. It is a privilege to honor someone who not only understands our industry’s needs and issues, but is also a passionate advocate for the general aviation community nationwide,” stated NATA President and CEO Thomas L. Hendricks.

This year’s NATA's Distinguished Service Award, recognizing outstanding service and ongoing contributions to the industry, goes to Marian Epps, of Epps Aviation. Epps serves on NATA’s Board of Directors as Treasurer and is an avid supporter of NATA’s small aviation business members. Last year, Epps participated in successful discussions between NATA and senior IRS officials from the Small Business/Self Employed Division (SBSE) to make the case for clear and precise guidance on the scope of Federal Excise Taxes on owner-operated use of aircraft being utilized in an aircraft management agreement. In 2012, she testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Small Business regarding the detrimental impact of user fees.

"Marian Epps’ dedication and commitment to NATA and our membership is extraordinary. In addition to helping lead a successful family-run FBO, Marian has enthusiastically answered every call to advocate on behalf of NATA and its member businesses. It is our pleasure to recognize Marian as NATA's Distinguished Service Award winner,” said Hendricks.

“It would be difficult to find two more deserving individuals for NATA’s top awards. NATA is honored to have Chairman Graves and NATA Board Member Marian Epps fighting on the behalf of our members and our industry on issues specific to aviation small businesses,” added Hendricks.

The Industry Excellence Awards Ceremony and Dinner is included in NATA’s Aviation Business & Legislative Conference registration, but individual seats and tables are also available for purchase separately. Please contact Kim Letcher at to purchase a seat or reserve a table.