Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger, III
Author, Speaker, Safety Advocate
Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger, III has been dedicated to the pursuit of safety for his entire adult life. While he is best known for serving as Captain during what has been called the “Miracle on the Hudson,” Sullenberger is a safety expert, speaker, and author. He currently serves on the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Advisory Committee for Automation in Transportation. He still flies privately.
Born and raised in Denison, Texas, Sullenberger pursued his childhood love of aviation at the United States Air Force Academy. In his graduation year at the academy, he received the Outstanding Cadet in Airmanship Award. In addition to his bachelor’s degree in psychology, he also has two master's degrees, one in industrial psychology from Purdue University and one in public administration from the University of Northern Colorado. He also has an honorary Doctorate of Letters from Purdue University.
Upon graduation from the Academy, Sullenberger served as a fighter pilot for the United States Air Force from 1975 to 1980. He advanced to become a flight leader and a training officer, attaining the rank of captain. During his active duty, he was stationed in North America and Europe. After serving in the Air Force, Sullenberger became an airline pilot with Pacific Southwest Airlines, later acquired by US Airways, until his retirement from commercial flying in March 2010.
Prior to gaining worldwide attention, Sullenberger was an active and ardent safety advocate throughout his four-decade-long career. He was selected to perform accident investigation duties for the United States Air Force, and served as an Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) representative during a National Transportation Safety Board investigation. Additionally, Sullenberger served as a Local Air Safety Chairman for ALPA, and was a member of one of their national technical committees, where he contributed to the creation of a Federal Aviation Administration Advisory Circular. He was also instrumental in developing and implementing the Crew Resource Management course used by US Airways, and he has taught the course to hundreds of other airline crewmembers.
After logging more than 20,000 hours of flight time Sullenberger became internationally renowned on January 15, 2009 when he and his crew safely guided US Airways Flight 1549 to an emergency water landing in New York City’s frigid Hudson River. The Airbus A320’s two engines had lost thrust following a bird strike. Sullenberger and his crew received international acclaim for their actions that day, including the passage of a Congressional resolution recognizing their bravery. Sullenberger was ranked second in TIME's "Top 100 Most Influential Heroes and Icons of 2009” and was awarded the French Legion of Honour.
Chairman and CEO of American Airlines
Doug Parker was named Chairman and Chief Executive Officer in 2013. He oversees American Airlines Group and American Airlines, its principal subsidiary company.
Previously, Parker was chairman and CEO of US Airways. Before the merger of US Airways and America West Airlines in 2005, he was chairman, president and chief executive officer of America West. Parker became the CEO at America West just 10 days before Sept. 11, 2001, and led the carrier through the crisis.
Under Parker’s leadership, US Airways achieved record revenue growth, operational performance and profit margins that outpaced most industry peers. Parker has been a vocal proponent of airline industry consolidation, which provides a more stable and competitive industry for employees, customers, communities and stockholders.
Parker’s experience prior to joining America West in 1995 includes four years with Northwest Airlines as vice president, assistant treasurer and vice president of Financial Planning and Analysis. From 1986 to 1991, he held a number of financial management positions with American.
Parker received a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics from Albion College in 1984 and a Master of Business Administration degree from Vanderbilt University in 1986.
CEO of Soutwest Airlines
Gary Kelly serves as the Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer at Southwest Airlines. Under Gary's leadership, Southwest has grown to become the nation's largest airline in terms of originating domestic passengers carried and is a mainstay on Fortune magazine's list of the most admired companies in the world, ranking eighth in 2017. In the same Fortune survey, Gary was recognized as one of the top five underrated CEOs.
Gary is a 30-year Southwest veteran who began his career at Southwest Airlines as Controller, moving up to Chief Financial Officer and Vice President Finance, then Executive Vice President and CFO, before being promoted to CEO and Vice Chairman in July 2004. Gary assumed the roles of Chairman and President in 2008. In January 2017, Gary relinquished the title of President. Prior to joining Southwest Airlines in 1986, Gary was a CPA for Arthur Young & Company in Dallas and Controller for Systems Center, Inc.
Southwest Airlines is celebrating 44 years of consecutive profitability and was named "Airline of the Year" by Air Transport World in 2015 and named one of the Top 20 America's Best Employers of 2016 by Forbes. The nation's leading low-cost carrier has consistently received the lowest ratio of Customer Complaints to the Department of Transportation (DOT) since they began tracking Customer Satisfaction.
Gary's biggest source of pride is the fact that Southwest Airlines has never had a single layoff in the airline's 46-year history. Gary has pioneered the airline's transformation through several key initiatives, including the acquisition of AirTran Airways, the repeal of the Wright Amendment, and the launch of international destinations for the first time in Southwest's history—all while staying true to the Company's core values and People-centric Culture.
Maurice J. Gallagher
CEO of Allegiant Travel
Maurice J. Gallagher, Jr. is Chairman and CEO of Allegiant Travel Co. and Allegiant Air, which offers service to 104 cities across the United States. He also serves as the Principal at Gallagher Corporation, Gallagher Equity Management LLC, and is Co-Partner of the investment firm at Flynn/Gallagher.
Gallagher has been actively involved in the management of Allegiant Air since June 2001. He has served as Chief Executive Officer since 2003 and was named Chairman of the Board in 2006. Since then, Gallagher has established a low-cost airline focusing on niche routes that fly from underserved airports nonstop to vacation destinations, and serving cities that typically see few direct flights from major carriers. Gallagher also led Allegiant Travel Co. to a successful IPO on the New York Stock Exchange in December 2006.
Under Gallagher’s leadership, Allegiant Travel Co. has remained profitable every quarter since 2003, despite industry challenges that include fluctuating fuel costs and an unstable economy. Allegiant has been named one of America’s 100 Best Small Companies by Forbes Magazine for five consecutive years, and in 2014, AVIATION WEEK ranked Allegiant the Top-Performing Airline in North America for the third consecutive year. Allegiant Air was also recognized by the Federal Aviation Administration with the Diamond Award of Excellence for Aviation Maintenance Technician Training in 2009 and 2010.
Before joining Allegiant, Gallagher founded Mpower Communications Corp., a telecommunications firm, and served as Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board for the company. He was also a founder of ValuJet Airlines, and a principal owner and executive of WestAir, a commuter airline.
Gallagher graduated from the University of California Davis with a Bachelor’s Degree in history, and earned an M.B.A. from the University of California Berkley. He currently lives in Las Vegas, NV. with his wife and two children.
CEO of Copa Airlines
Pedro Heilbron is CEO of Copa Holdings and Copa Airlines, which offers service to 69* destinations in 30 countries in North, Central and South America and the Caribbean from its Hub of the Americas at Tocumen International Airport in Panama City, Panama.
Heilbron joined Copa Airlines in 1988. Under his leadership, Copa established the Hub of the Americas, the most successful and efficient hub in Latin America and developed a partnership and strategic alliance with Continental Airlines (now United) in 1998. Copa is one of the leading airlines in Latin America and has received several international prestigious awards, including the most recent for “Best Airline in the Central America and Caribbean region” at the 2013 Skytrax World Airline Awards.
Heilbron is currently a member of the advisory board of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and chairman of the Panama Smithsonian Foundation. He is a graduate of the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass., with a bachelor’s degree in economics, and earned an M.B.A. from George Washington University in Washington, D.C.
Richard H. Anderson
CEO of Delta Air Lines
Richard H. Anderson is Delta’s chief executive officer and a member of the company’s Board of Directors.
Through the vision of Richard’s leadership team, Delta is a values-based company that is strategically and creatively reengineering the airline business model. The airline has reinvigorated a culture known for high employee engagement and gracious customer service. In 2011 Delta topped Fortune’s Most Admired Airlines list, a worldwide ranking based on people management, quality of management, innovation, long-term investment, social responsibility, quality of product and services and global competitiveness.
Richard was recognized with the “2010 Airline Strategy Award for Executive Leadership” presented by industry trade magazine “Airline Business” and global executive search firm Spencer Stuart following Delta’s merger integration with Northwest Airlines, which has been described as the gold standard for industry mergers.
Frederico Fleury Curado
President & CEO, Embraer S.A.
Born in Rio de Janeiro , graduated from the Aeronautical Technological Institute (ITA), he is an executive who took over the presidency of EMBRAER in 2007, succeeding Maurício Botelho .
Frederico Curado received a bachelor's degree in mechanical-aeronautical engineering from ITA, a post-graduate degree in foreign trade from Fundação Getúlio Vargas and an MBA from the University of São Paulo.
Frederick W. Smith
President & CEO, FedEx Corporation
Frederick W. Smith, in full Frederick Wallace Smith, byname Fred Smith (born August 11, 1944, Marks, Mississippi, U.S.), American business executive who founded (1971) Federal Express (later called FedEx), one of the largest express-delivery companies in the world.
Smith’s father was a successful businessman who founded Dixie Greyhound Lines, among other ventures. As a child, the younger Smith suffered from Legg-Calvé-Perthes syndrome, a potentially crippling disease. He eventually recovered, and, while a teenager, he learned to pilot airplanes. He later studied economics at Yale University, where he wrote a paper about overnight delivery services. After graduating in 1966, Smith served two tours with the U.S. Marines during the Vietnam War. By the time he was discharged in 1970, Smith had received two Purple Hearts and attained the rank of captain.
CEO, Star Alliance Services GmbH
Mr. Jaan Albrecht has been Chief Executive Officer of Gunes Ekspress Havacilik A.S. since June 1, 2015. Mr. Albrecht served as the Chairman of Management Board and Chief Executive Officer of Austrian Airlines AG from November 1, 2011 to May 31, 2015. Mr. Albrecht served as the Chief Executive Officer of Star Alliance Services Gmbh, since June 2001. He held numerous executive positions in Mexicana Airlines, where he started his career as a pilot in 1973. He spent 20 years of flying with the airline as a First Officer, Captain and Boeing 727 fleet Chief Pilotand was Senior Vice President of Operations from 1990 to 1994. Since 1995, he served as Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing of Mexicana. He served as Executive Vice President, Commercial of the airline 1995 to 1998. He spent two and a half years working in executive positions at AeroPeru. In 1999, he joined Aeromexpress, an all cargo airline based in Mexico City, as its Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Albrecht also worked as Vice President, Administration and Finance of IFALPA, the international federation of airline pilots associations, from 1986 to 1990. Mr. Albrecht holds a degree in architecture from The Technical University of Mexico.
Honorable James L. Oberstar
U.S. Congressman, Minnesota Chairman, House Committee
on Transportation and Infrastructure
Oberstar was first elected as a Democrat to the 94th Congress and was reelected to 17 succeeding Congresses; serving from January 3, 1975 to January 3, 2011.
He was an internationally recognized expert on aviation and aviation safety. He served on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee during his entire time in the House. (His predecessor Blatnik had chaired the committee during his last two terms in Congress when it was known as the Public Works Committee, with Oberstar as staff administrator). He was also a member of the President's Commission on Aviation Security and Terrorism.
Chairman & CEO, Continental Airlines
Lawrence W. "Larry" Kellner (born 1959) is the former CEO of Continental Airlines, having succeeded Gordon Bethune as CEO in December 2004. Prior to his arrival at Continental, he served as the chief financial officer of American Savings Bank. Kellner retired as the airline's chief executive at the end of December 2009. During his career at Continental, he previously served as a vice president, chief financial officer and chief operating officer.
Colleen C. Barrett
President & Corporate Secretary, Southwest Airlines
Colleen Barrett (born 14 September 1944, Bellows Falls, Vermont) is the President Emerita and Corporate Secretary of Southwest Airlines. She joined Southwest in 1978, having previously worked for several years as founder Herb Kelleher's executive assistant at his law firm. She has served as Secretary of the Corporation, as Vice President Administration from 1986 through 1990, and Executive Vice President from 1990 through 2001. Barrett has been consistently named and recognized as one of the most powerful American businesswomen. In October, 2007, she received the Tony Jannus Award for distinguished achievement in commercial air transportation.
Chairman & CEO, AirTran Airways
Mr. Joseph B. Leonard, also known as Joe, served as an Interim Chief Executive Officer of Walter Energy, Inc. from August 1, 2011 to September 12, 2011 and previously from March 12, 2010 to March 2011. He served as Interim Chief Executive Officer of Walter Energy at New WEI 13, Inc. from August 1, 2011 to September 12, 2011. Mr. Leonard has over 30 years of experience. He served as Chief Executive Officer at Airtran Holdings, Inc. from January 1999 to November 2007 and Airtran Airways Inc. from 1999 to 2007. He served as the President of Airtran Holdings from January 1999 to January 2001. Mr. Leonard has spent over 25 years in communications technology, with experience ranging from military systems to global fortune 100 networks to modern day internet solutions. He served as a Director in the Chief Technology Officer of Nortel Networks, where he was responsible for Enterprise Data and VoIP technology direction. From 1993 to 1998, he served in various Executive capacities for AlliedSignal Inc. and its Aerospace division. He served as the President and Chief Executive Officer of Marketing, Sales and Service at AlliedSignal Aerospace and Senior Vice President of AlliedSignal Inc. since 1998. From 1991 to 1993, he served as an Executive Vice President of Northwest Airlines.
Chairman & CEO, JetBlue Airways Corporation
Mr. David Gary Neeleman founded Azul Linhas Aéreas Brasileiras S.A. in 2008 and serves as its Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Neeleman has been the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Azul S.A. since January 03, 2008 and has been its Member of Board of Executive Officers since January 17, 2013. He founded JetBlue Airways Corporation and served as Non-Executive Chairman from 2002 to May 15, 2008 and Chief Executive Officer from August 1998 to 2007. Mr. Neeleman also served as a Member of the Management Advisory Board at Towerbrook Capital Partners, L.P. From October 1995 to October 1998, he served as the Chief Executive Officer of Open Skies, Inc. He served as a Consultant to WestJet Airlines. His career in the airline industry began in 1984 when he co-founded Morris Air Corporation. From 1988 to 1994, he served as President of Morris Air Corporation and implemented the industry’s first electronic ticketing system and pioneered a home reservationist system that is now the foundation of JetBlue’s call center. Mr. Neeleman serves as Director at JetSuite, Inc. Mr. Neeleman was a Co-Founder of Westjet Airlines Ltd. and served as its Member of Board of Directors from 1996 to 1999. He served as an Executive Director at JetBlue Airways Corporation since May 1998 and its Director until 15, 2008. He was a Member of the Board of Advisors of Peterson Partners LP. He served as a Director of The Partnership For New York City, Inc. He served as a Member of the Board of Directors at Open Skies, Inc. He served as a Member of the Board of Directors of Morris Air Corporation.
Honorable Norman Y. Mineta
Secretary of the United States Department of Transportation
Norman Yoshio Mineta (born November 12, 1931) is an American politician. A member of the Democratic Party, Mineta most recently served in President George W. Bush's Cabinet as the United States Secretary of Transportation, the only Democratic Cabinet Secretary in the Bush administration. On June 23, 2006, Mineta announced his resignation after more than five years as Secretary of Transportation, effective July 7, 2006, making him the longest-serving Transportation Secretary in the Department's history. On July 10, 2006, Hill & Knowlton, a public relations firm, announced that Mineta would join it as a partner. On August 10, 2010, it was announced that Mineta would join L&L Energy, Inc as Vice Chairman.
Gordon M. Bethune
Chairman & CEO, Continental Airlines
Gordon M. Bethune (born August 29, 1941) is a retired US airline executive. He was the CEO of Continental Airlines from 1994 until his retirement at the end of 2004. He currently serves on the boards of Honeywell, Sprint, Prudential Financial.
Bethune holds a commercial pilot certificate with type ratings in the Douglas DC-3, Boeing 757, and Boeing 767. Bethune was known for ensuring that he received some time as pilot when taking delivery of a new Continental Airlines Boeing 767 from Boeing and repositioning it from Seattle to Houston. He also is a licensed Airframe and Powerplant (A&P) mechanic.
Sir Freddie Laker
Chairman & Managing Director, Laker Airways (Bahamas) Limited
Sir Frederick Alfred Laker (6 August 1922 – 9 February 2006) was an English airline entrepreneur, best known for founding Laker Airways in 1966, which went bankrupt in 1982. Known as "Freddie Laker", he was one of the first airline owners to adopt the "no-frills" airline business model that has since proven to be very successful worldwide with companies such as Southwest Airlines, Ryanair, easyJet, AirAsia and WestJet.
2001 - Robert Crandall – Chairman & CEO, AMR Corporation & American Airlines
2000 - Sir Richard Branson – Chairman, Virgin Atlantic Airways
1999 - Federico Bloch – President & CEO, TACA Group
1998 - Angus James Kinnear – President, Canada 3000 Airlines Limited
1997 - Charles E. Yeager – Brigadier General, USAF Ret.
1996 - J. George Mikelsons – Chairman & CEO, American Trans Air
1995 - J. Martin Schröder – Founder & CEO, Martinair Holland
1994 - Alan S. Boyd – Secretary, U.S. Dept. of Transportation
1993 - Herbert D. Kelleher – President & CEO, Southwest Airlines
1992 - T.A. Wilson – Chairman, The Boeing Company
199 - Sir Colin [later Lord] Marshall – Deputy Chairman & CEO, British Airways
1990 - Edwin I. Colodny – Chairman, USAir
1989 - Sir C. Lenox Hewitt – Chairman, Qantas Airways, Ltd.
1988 - Claude I. Taylor – Chairman, Air Canada
1987 - Jerome H. Lederer – Flight Safety Pioneer
1986 - Frank Borman – Chairman, Eastern Air Lines
Wayne W. Parrish – Aviation Writer-Publisher
1983 - David C. Garrett, Jr. – President, Delta Air Lines
1982 - Manuel Sosa de la Vega – President, Mexicana Airlines
1981 - Honorable Howard W. Cannon – U.S. Senator, Nevada
1980 - Thomas H. Davis – Founder & President, Piedmont Airlines
1979 - Jehangir R.D. Tata – Founder, Air India
1978 - Donald W. Nyrop – Chairman, Northwest Airlines
1977 - Robert F. Six – Founder, Continental Airlines
1976 - C.R. Smith – Founder, American Airlines
1975 - Captain Elrey B. Jeppesen – Founder & Chairman, Jeppesen Company
1974 - William Powell Lear – Pioneer, Aircraft Radios and Avionics
1973 - Geoffrey E. Knight and Henri A.L. Ziegler – Co-Developers, Concorde SST
1972 - Lt. Gen. James H. Doolittle, USAF Ret. – Developer of Instrument Flight
1971 - William McPherson Allen – Chairman, The Boeing Company
1970 - Daniel J. Haughton – Chairman, Lockheed Aircraft Corp.
1969 - Sir Frank Whittle – O.M., K.B.E., C.B., F.R.S., Developer of Jet Engine
1968 - W. A. Patterson – Founder, United Air Lines
1967 - Captain Edward V. Rickenbacker – Chairman, Eastern Air Lines
1966 - Donald W. Douglas, Sr. – Founder, Douglas Aircraft Company
1965 - Juan Terry Trippe – Founder, Pan American World Airways
1964 - Honorable A. S. Mike Monroney – U.S. Senator, Oklahoma
Special Award Recipients
2013 - Mr. Kermit Weeks
2006 - Mr. Richard Reitz
2005 - United States Air Force Air Mobility Command
1995 - Mr. William A. Krusen