NATA Announces Industry Excellence Awards Recipients

Alexandria, VA, February 11, 2014 – The National Air Transportation Association (NATA) today announced the recipients of its Industry Excellence Awards given annually to individuals, offices, and organizations that have helped improve the general aviation community by demonstrating excellence in their field and the highest level of customer service.

NATA will present awards to the following five recipients:

Mr. Richard (Ric) Peri, Senior Writer for Avionics News and Vice President of Government and Industry Affairs for the Aircraft Electronics Association, will receive the Aviation Journalism Award that identifies a journalist, writer, or publication excelling in consumer education or editorial support in the FBO/Air Charter industry. Mr. Peri is an active advocate for aviation small businesses worldwide and is an internationally recognized author and sought-after speaker concerning all facets of aviation maintenance. With more than 20 years of experience writing for various publications in the aviation maintenance community, he has dedicated himself to promoting standardization, consistency and regulatory compliance.

The Eastern Michigan Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) is the recipient of NATA's FAA Customer Service Excellence Award and is recognized as the FAA facility that demonstrates the highest degree of customer service and elevates the quality of collaboration between the FAA and aircraft maintenance and repair facilities, Part 135 certificate holders, airport service organizations, and flight schools. The East Michigan FSDO is an integral component of the Federal Aviation Administration’s Great Lakes Region and includes 88 professionals who actively promote aviation safety and set high standards in providing oversight and support to the American public.

The ATP/NATA General Aviation Service Technician Award (sponsored by Aircraft Technical Publishers) acknowledges the exceptional performance of a licensed airframe and powerplant mechanic or radio repairman who has practiced his or her craft for a period of 20 or more years. NATA will present this year’s award to Mr. Jack J. Vazquez, Director of Maintenance for Bergstrom Aircraft, Inc., for his more than 35 years of providing the highest quality aircraft maintenance services to general aviation. His commitment to safety and service is an inspiration to his team and his outstanding reputation has built a large customer base at Bergstrom Aircraft, Inc. In addition, Mr. Vazquez is dedicated to developing modification kits in an effort to keep general aviation safe and affordable for everyone.

Mr. William (Bill) Welstead, Fort Worth’s Airport System Director, is this year's recipient of theNATA Airport Executive Partnership Award. The Airport Executive Partnership Award recognizes an airport manager for his or her outstanding efforts to foster relationships between aviation businesses and airport operators. Mr. Welstead’s can-do attitude served him well in his four years in Fort Worth, first as Meacham’s Airport Manager and now as Fort Worth’s Airport System Director. Among his impressive achievements is managing the completion of a stalled $9 million runway improvement project, securing $10 million in economic impact to Fort Worth as the host airport of the 2013 AOPA Summit, increasing state funding for Fort Worth Meacham from $2.5 million to $18 million and improving the Aviation Department’s relations with tenants at all three municipal airports. Mr. Welstead works in conjunction with and in support of tenants and operators so that the economic impact of the airport to the community is maximized.

Mr. Mike Paulson, Fargo Flight School Manager at Fargo Jet Center, Inc., will receive the Excellence In Pilot Training Award for his outstanding contributions in safety, professionalism, leadership, and excellence in the field of pilot training. Mr. Paulson has been a flight instructor at Hector International Airport in Fargo, North Dakota since 1988. During his career, he has logged more than 18,500 hours of flight time of which 11,000 were logged as flight instruction hours given. Mr. Paulson has also taught aviation classes at North Dakota State University for the past 23 years. He truly exemplifies excellence in pilot training for his longstanding dedication and continued passion for teaching the next generation to fly.

"NATA is pleased to recognize these outstanding professionals for their dedication, cooperative spirit and passion for the industry," said NATA President and CEO Thomas L. Hendricks. "We are also proud of their focus on perpetuating the safety of general aviation collectively as well as in their individual fields."

NATA will present the awards during the NATA Industry Excellence Awards Dinner on March 3rd at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland. The association will hold the dinner in conjunction with its Aviation Business & Legislative Conference.

Contact Kim Letcher at for more information on NATA's Industry Excellence Awards Dinner and Presentation and to secure tickets.