CLEVELAND, January 16, 2017 – Flexjet LLC, offering travelers access to the world’s most luxurious fleet of private jets, today announced that its chairman, Kenneth C. “Kenn” Ricci, will receive the Lifetime Aviation Entrepreneur Award Friday at the Living Legends of Aviation 14th Annual Awards, at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, California.
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 Flexjet 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 also 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.
Ricci pushed the fractional private jet ownership industry forward again in 2015 with the launch of Red Label by Flexjet, which delivers to fractional private jet Owners a private flying experience as personalized as whole aircraft ownership. Red Label features access to the world’s newest fractional jet fleet, artisan aircraft interiors that are some of the finest ever to traverse the skies and its most pioneering feature, flight crews dedicated to a single aircraft.
Ricci’s dedicated crewing innovation exposes fractional private jet Owners to a confidence and consistency in piloting usually reserved for those who own a whole aircraft. Each Red Label dedicated crew sets its own schedule and is assigned to just one tail number, which becomes their dedicated aircraft. They fly only their designated plane, and work as a team to ensure it is perfect for each trip. This model, with its roots in military flying, improves the fractional Owner’s experience, enhances dispatch reliability and is a tailored approach that no other fractional provider can offer.
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.
Flexjet first entered the fractional jet ownership market in 1995, and celebrated its 21st anniversary in May 2016. 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, and Flexjet is the first and only company to be honored with its 17th FAA Diamond Award for Excellence. 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—including their LXi Cabin Collection consisting of the Learjet 75LXi, Challenger 350, the Embraer Legacy 450 and 500, 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, Challenger 300 and Challenger 605. Flexjet is a member of the Directional Aviation family of companies. For more details on innovative programs and flexible offerings, visit fxmultiprod.wpengine.com or follow us on Twitter @Flexjet.
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