Wheels Up founder and CEO Kenny Dichter was honored with the Eren Ozmen Entrepreneur of the Year Award last night during the 17th Annual Living Legends of Aviation Awards in Los Angeles. Hosted by actor and aviator John Travolta, the Living Legends Awards honor those who have made significant contributions to aviation and aerospace.
Dichter, who follows past recipients that include Elon Musk, is honored for bringing innovation, technology, and a disruptive force to private aviation. He founded membership-based Wheels Up in 2013 with a fleet of King Airs, and since then the operator has sold more than 8,000 memberships, expanded its fleet to nearly 200 aircraft, and grown its employment base to more than 1,000 people. The company now has an enterprise valuation of more than $1.5 billion.
“I’m honored to be receiving the Eren Ozmen Award following the long line of accomplished entrepreneurs…and I hope that it inspires the next generation of entrepreneurs with disruptive ideas to dream big,” Dichter said. “Wheels Up’s tremendous growth is a testament to our incredible employees, as well as our investors and partners."
Before launching Wheels Up, Dichter co-founded Marquis Jet in 2001, which introduced the first fractional jet card program. Marquis ended up generating more than $5 billion in revenue, helping lead to its sale to NetJets in 2010.