CLEVELAND--(BUSINESS WIRE)--One of the world’s most esteemed aviation awards has been renamed to honor Flexjet Chairman Kenn Ricci. On January 19, 2018, the Living Legends of Aviation honored him by renaming its annual award for lifetime accomplishments in aviation entrepreneurship the “Kenn Ricci Lifetime Aviation Entrepreneur Award.”
Living Legends of Aviation was founded in 2003 to honor men and women of extraordinary accomplishments in aviation. The organization also financially supports the Kiddie Hawk Air Academy, a nonprofit organization that introduces children to aviation through the Kiddie Hawk Air Trainer and a curriculum that includes aviation coloring books, principles of flight and actual flight lessons, albeit a few feet off the ground. It seeks to create a sense of wonder and interest in aviation that will last a lifetime and inspire children to achieve the academic merit that will enable them to pursue aviation-related careers. Since the Kiddie Hawk Air Trainer was first displayed in 1996, thousands of children have participated in the program.
“I am deeply honored that the Living Legends of Aviation has named its Lifetime Aviation Entrepreneur Award after me,” said Ricci. “And for this honor to come from the very aviation entrepreneurs that I have admired over the years, make this truly a pinnacle in my career.”
This year’s Kenn Ricci Lifetime Aviation Entrepreneur Award was bestowed upon Robert T. Bigelow, founder of Bigelow Aerospace and a pioneer in developing commercially viable, habitable space structures.
At the awards ceremony held at the Beverly Hilton, Ricci articulated his vision of the world of aviation going forward and the need for supporting the next generation of innovators through education, training and outreach. This video captures Ricci’s vision and accomplishments.
“I believe that the aviation and aerospace industries are on the cusp of advances that will forever change flight, with possibilities ranging from hypersonic flight to autonomous passenger aircraft to commercial travel into space,” said Ricci. “It is up to our generation to prepare the next to achieve more than we did. One way to accomplish this is through public and private programs of education, training and outreach.”
Ricci added that he is motivated in part by the philanthropic examples set by such previous recipients of the Lifetime Aviation Entrepreneur Award as Steven Udvar-Házy, co-founder of Air Lease Corp., and the late Albert Ueltschi, said to be the father of modern flight training.
Programs that expose new audiences to aviation are a passion point for Ricci and the Ricci Family Foundation. Ricci and the Ricci Family Foundation are avid supporters of Kiddie Hawk Air Academy as well as Able Flight at the Purdue Polytechnic Institute, which provides people with disabilities, many of them military veterans, the ability to challenge themselves through flight training via a specially equipped Sky Arrow L600 sport plane.
In addition to renaming the award, the organization has included Ricci in what has become an unofficial Living Legends of Aviation tradition. An exclusive edition Breitling watch has been handed down to a select few aviators to mark unique and momentous events in their careers. Kenn Ricci recently received the watch to mark this occasion. Previous recipients have included Living Legends of Aviation member John Travolta and actor Tom Cruise.
“Like other honorees of the Living Legends of Aviation, I have benefitted from the accomplishments and generosity of those who came before me,” Ricci said. “I intend to give back in the same measure, and help the rising generation of aviation professionals succeed.”
Flexjet first entered the fractional jet ownership market in 1995. Flexjet offers fractional jet ownership and leasing. Flexjet’s fractional aircraft program is the first in the world to be recognized as achieving the Air Charter Safety Foundation’s Industry Audit Standard, is the first and only company to be honored with 18 FAA Diamond Awards for Excellence, upholds an ARG/US Platinum Safety Rating and is IS-BAO compliant. Flexjet’s fractional program fields an exclusive array of business aircraft—some of the youngest in the fractional jet industry, with an average age of approximately six years. In 2015, Flexjet introduced Red Label by Flexjet, which features the youngest fleet in the industry, flight crews dedicated to a single aircraft and the LXi Cabin Collection of interiors. To date there are more than 25 different interior designs across its fleet, which includes the Learjet 75LXi, Challenger 350, the Embraer Legacy 450, Global Express, the Gulfstream G450, G500 and G650, and the Aerion AS2 supersonic business jets. In addition, the overall jet collection includes the Embraer Phenom 300 and Bombardier Challenger 300. Flexjet is a member of the Directional Aviation family of companies. For more details on innovative programs and flexible offerings, visit www.flexjet.com or follow us on Twitter @Flexjet and on Instagram @FlexjetLLC.
About the Living Legends of Aviation
The Living Legends of Aviation are admirable people of remarkable accomplishment in aviation including entrepreneurs, innovators, industry leaders, record-breakers, astronauts, pilots who have become celebrities and celebrities who have become pilots. The legends meet yearly to recognize and honor individuals who have made significant contributions in aviation. For more information, visit https://livinglegendsofaviation.org.
About the Kiddie Hawk Air Academy
The Living Legends of Aviation Awards are produced by the Kiddie Hawk Air Academy, a 501(c) 3 organization whose mission is to educate and inspire today’s youth and create tomorrow’s aviators and Legends. It features the Kiddie Hawk Air Trainer, first displayed in 1996. In tandem with a curriculum that includes aviation mechanics, history and career opportunities, the Kiddie Hawk Air Trainer helps children develop a sense of appreciation and interest in aviation that will carry on into their adult years and inspire them to enter into aviation related careers. For more information, visit https://kiddiehawk.org.