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Living Legends of Aviation Lifetime Aviation Entrepreneur Award Named After Kenn Ricci

Bigelow Aerospace Founder Robert Bigelow to Receive 2018 Kenn Ricci Lifetime Aviation Entrepreneur Award                   

BEVERLY HILLS, CALIF., January 18, 2018 – For the first time in its 15-year history, the Living Legends of Aviation has renamed its iconic award to honor aviation entrepreneurs for their lifetime achievements. Starting this year, the award will be the “Kenn Ricci Lifetime Aviation Entrepreneur Award,” named after the aviation visionary and founder of Directional Aviation, the parent of companies including Flexjet, Sentient Jet, Skyjet, Nextant Aerospace and Constant Aviation. 

The Living Legends of Aviation was created to honor accomplished men and women in aviation and to support the Kiddie Hawk Air Academy, which is dedicated to introducing, educating, and sparking children’s interest in aviation. 

The Kenn Ricci Lifetime Aviation Entrepreneur Award will be presented on January 19, 2018 to Robert T. Bigelow, founder of Bigelow Aerospace, which concentrates on designing, developing and building commercially viable, habitable space structures. Past recipients of the Lifetime Aviation Entrepreneur Award include Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Atlantic airlines and Virgin Galactic and Frederick Smith, founder of FedEx. Ricci himself won the award in 2017.

More than 700 people, including many of the “Living Legends of Aviation” themselves, attend the annual awards ceremony, which will benefit the Kiddie Hawk Air Academy. The organization anticipates raising close to $1 million at the gala, which will take place at the Beverly Hilton. 

“Aviation, a 115-year-old industry, is where it is today because of entrepreneurs such as Kenn Ricci, whose vision has helped spur growth in hundreds of related sectors and companies,” said FedEx founder Fred Smith, the 2013 Lifetime Aviation Entrepreneur Award recipient and a Living Legend himself. 

Added Ricci, “I am humbled by the renaming of the award. I look forward to inspiring young people to become the aviation entrepreneurs of the future, especially by championing the Kiddie Hawk Air Academy, which brings to life the dream of aviation for thousands of kids every single year.” 

Kiddie Hawk Air Academy 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.

Programs that expose new audiences to aviation are a passion point for Ricci and the Ricci Family Foundation. They are active supporters of the 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. 

“It’s an honor to be the first recipient of the newly renamed Kenn Ricci Lifetime Aviation Entrepreneur Award,” said Bigelow. “Kenn Ricci’s commitment to innovation through aircraft remanufacturing and his support of Aerion’s supersonic business jets are great examples of how we can transform the aviation business.”

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

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


Paul Lips
Living Legends of Aviation



Thomas Flohr to Receive Top Honors at Aviation Awards

13th Annual “Living Legends of Aviation Awards” January 22, 2016 at the Beverly Hilton
Thomas Flohr, Founder and Chairman of VistaJet, will receive the “Aviation Entrepreneur of the Year Award.” In 2004, Mr. Flohr introduced a revolutionary aviation business model focused entirely around his customers and brand new, identical aircraft.  With over 55 Global and Challenger jets, the company has assembled the largest privately owned Bombardier fleet.  VistaJet is the world’s fastest growing private aviation company with a service area covering more than 80% of the globe.

John Travolta, the “Official Ambassador of Aviation,” hosts the annual black tie event.  Considered the most prestigious and important recognition event in aviation, the awards will be held at the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles January 22, 2016.  Awards include the Harrison Ford Aviation Legacy Award” and a “Flown West” segment, which pays tribute to “Legends” lost, followed by the induction of new “Living Legends of Aviation. “ The Awards are produced by Kiddie Hawk Air Academy, a 501-c-3 non-profit organization whose mission is to educate and spark children’s passion for aviation.

The Living Legends of Aviation will also honor William “Bill” Chiles, recently retired President and CEO of Bristow Group, a leading provider of helicopter services to the worldwide offshore energy industry, operating 500 helicopters flying in 22 countries with 5,000 employees.  Mr. Chiles will receive the “Vertical Flight Hall of Fame Award,” presented by Bell Helicopter.

Miles O’Brien, an instrument rated pilot and independent American broadcast news journalist specializing in science, technology, and aerospace, will receive the “Aviation Inspiration and Patriotism Award.”

Among the other awards will be the “Lifetime Industry Leader Award” presented by “Living Legends of Aviation” Steven Udvar-Hazy and Herb Kelleher to Mr. Ray Conner, the President and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes.  Boeing Commercial aircraft account for the majority of Boeing’s total revenues, with nearly 12,000 jetliners in service worldwide, roughly 75 percent of the world fleet.

The 13th Annual “Living Legends of Aviation Awards” will salute Bob Hoover. Limited seating is still available.  For more information, contact or call 720-375-0000.

Picture and press release also available at

CONTACT: Patty Kovacevich, Entertainment/Consumer & Aviation/Trade (including Red Carpet) at