CLEVELAND, OH, January 19, 2017 – Nextant Aerospace, builders of the 400XTi – the world’s only fully remanufactured business jet, today announced that its chairman, Kenneth C. “Kenn” Ricci, will receive the Lifetime Aviation Entrepreneur Award at the Living Legends of Aviation 14th Annual Awards, to be held at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, California on Friday, January 20, 2017.
The Lifetime Aviation Entrepreneur Award recipients are determined by the Legends, including past honorees of the relevant categories. 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.
Winners of the Lifetime Aviation Entrepreneur Award, presented annually since 2003, have included Southwest Airlines co-founder Herb Kelleher, Federal Express founder Fred Smith and Virgin Atlantic founder Sir Richard Branson. 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.
“I am deeply honored that the Living Legends of Aviation has selected me for the 2017 Lifetime Aviation Entrepreneur Award,” said Ricci, who also serves as principal of Directional Aviation. “This award truly is not just a personal honor, but also a reflection of the efforts of the thousands of talented and dedicated men and women at Nextant and the other Directional Aviation companies that I am proud to have been associated with during the past three decades.”
Ricci’s entrepreneurial career dates back to his founding of aircraft management and corporate charter operator Corporate Wings in 1981, a company that was named to the Inc. 500 list of America’s fastest-growing companies. Subsequently, Ricci launched or led other aviation enterprises including Nextant Aerospace, Constant Aviation and Sojourn Aviation, all of which today are part of the Directional Aviation family of companies. He also has played a role in such enterprises as the restructuring of Mercury Air Centers, which was sold to Macquarie Infrastructure Trust in 2007.
Throughout his career, Ricci has translated his passion for aviation into the development of groundbreaking solutions that have provided thousands of people and businesses access to private jet travel. In 1998, he revolutionized fractional aircraft ownership by founding Flight Options, which became the industry’s second-largest company in just four years. Ricci leads jet card pioneer Sentient Jet and on-demand charter leader Skyjet.
In 2013, Directional Aviation acquired Flexjet. In just three short years, Ricci has made Flexjet the world’s premiere fractional provider – competing not just in the U.S. but around the world. Today, Flexjet flies the youngest fleet in the fractional industry with aircraft designed to meet every need and taste, including best-in-class aircraft from leading manufacturers such as Embraer, Gulfstream and Bombardier.
In 2000, Ricci was named an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of Year and was honored as one of the most influential people in aviation by Aviation International News. In 2010, he received the Harvard Business School’s Dively Entrepreneurship Award and, in 2012, was named the youngest-ever recipient of the prestigious William Ong Award for extraordinary achievement and extended meritorious service to general aviation. In 2015, Ricci received the Aviation Week Laureate Award, recognizing his contributions to innovation in aircraft remanufacturing through Nextant Aerospace.
An alumnus of the University of Notre Dame and the Cleveland Marshall School of Law, Ricci is a pilot with more than 6,000 hours in type-rated aircraft including Gulfstream, Falcon and Citation jets. He served as personal pilot to President Bill Clinton during his 1992 campaign for president. A member of several corporate boards, Ricci also is an aviation advisor to the Guggenheim Aero Opportunity Fund. He serves on the boards of trustees for the University of Notre Dame, the Smithsonian, University Hospitals and on the board of Stonebriar Finance Holdings.
Ricci’s groundbreaking management philosophy has been featured in The Wall Street Journal and Inc. Magazine. He is the author of Management by Trust, a book that offers management techniques for building employee trust and success that was praised by the New York Times Book Review as a “landmark success manual for corporate America.”
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 and 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 www.livinglegendsofaviation.com.
About Nextant AerospaceNextant’s pioneering process for remanufacturing business jets is now recognized as an established technical and commercial success worldwide with significant sales in every major operator category and class-leading levels of comfort, performance and reliability – all at a purchase price half that of comparable aircraft. The revolutionary 400XTi light jet features Williams FJ44-3AP engines and the Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21™ integrated flight deck. The same winning combination will soon be available in the Nextant G90XT turboprop powered by next-generation GE H75-100 engines and introducing an enhanced Garmin G1000 integrated flight deck.