People in Aviation

 - April 1, 2022, 8:29 AM

Sen. James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma) is retiring after a 36-year congressional career. A fierce general aviation advocate whose efforts ranged from maneuvering in the early 1990s to clear the way for passage of the General Aviation Revitalization Act to making a deal with pal and former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) on a pilot bill of rights, Inhofe is ranking Republican of the Senate Armed Services Committee and a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee.

Hahn Air named Kirsten Rehmann CEO. Rehmann joined the company as a sales and marketing executive in 2003, just four years after its founding, and has held positions of increasing responsibility including as chief commercial officer.

Sanad elevated Mansoor Janahi to the role of group CEO. Janahi, who had been deputy group CEO of the global aerospace engineering services and leasing provider, joined Mubadala in 2008, became deputy CEO of Sanad Aerotech in 2017, and since was named CEO for Sanad Aerotech and Sanad Powertech and deputy CEO for Sanad Group.

Greg Cornell was appointed president of Innovative Advantage. Cornell, who began his career with Emteq, joined Innovative Advantage in 2014 and has held sales and business development roles with the company.

Priester Aviation hired Rich Ropp as president. Ropp succeeds CEO Andy Priester who also held the role of president and added the title of chairman late last year. Ropp, who has 30 years of experience in aircraft management and aviation sales, comes to Priester from Jet Linx, where he was president of its St. Louis base.

Jenny Showalter has launched a new firm Showalter Business Aviation Career Coaching. Showalter brings a long history in the industry to the firm as a third-generation member of the Showalter aviation family, most recently serving as a client services manager for a business aviation recruitment firm.

MAAS Aviation named Richard Marston COO. Marston joined the aircraft painting and coatings specialist in January 2020 as director of customer service, sales, and marketing for EMEA after holding senior positions with Herberts, DuPont, and AkzoNobel Aerospace Coatings.

Asian Sky Group (ASG) named Nadav Kessler managing director of Asian Sky Group and Tan Rahman managing director of Asian Sky Media. Kessler joined the company shortly after its founding in 2012 and since has taken on roles with increasing responsibility. Rahman has 20 years of telecommunications, consumer electronics, technology, travel, financial services, and government experience, including as chief marketing officer for Chinese B2B startup Xcalibyte and as global head of digital and media with Huawei Technologies.

NBAA has brought Sacha Carey on board as v-p of exhibits. She steps into the role formerly held by Linda Peters, who retired earlier this year after serving with the association for 28 years. Carey joins the association from The Water Environment Federation, where she was senior director of corporate development and industry relations, and also has handled international programs, membership, and exhibition management for the Food Processing Suppliers Association.

The Wichita Aero Club (WAC) named Ashley Bowen Cook, v-p at the Greteman Group, as its new chair. Cook, who is the first female to lead the organization, succeeds John O’Leary in the role.  O’Leary, who is v-p and general manager of Airbus Americas Engineering, remains on the WAC board as immediate past chairman and head of the Education Committee. Daughter of aviation photographer Paul Bowen, Cook served with Bombardier Learjet and Flexjet before joining Greteman in 2003. In addition, Jess Smith is filling the Wichita Eagle’s board seat and Frank Craven has returned to the board representing the startup data firm Aviowiki.

The Naples Airport Authority Board of Commissioners elected Kerry Dustin as chair and Rick Ruppert vice chair for 2022. Dustin, who was appointed to the board in 2017 and served as vice-chair in 2020, is the founder and chairman of Falls River Group. Ruppert, who was appointed to the board in 2020, has more than 40 years of executive experience, including with Jet Aviation, The Walt Disney Company, and Ulta Beauty.

Million Air, forming a board of directors, named Gen. Ronald Fogleman as chairman. Fogleman, the former 15th chief of staff of the U.S. Air Force who retired from the service after 34 years, has accrued more than 2,000 hours of general aviation flying time and has served on numerous public boards and committees including the Council of Foreign Relations, the Falcon Foundation, Defense Policy Board, NASA Advisory Council, and Jet Propulsion Laboratory Advisory Board, among others.

The NGPA has selected its new board of directors, naming Alaska Airlines pilot Jason Isreal and Envoy Air pilot Scott Lebovitz to two-year terms as directors. The board reelected Scott Konzem, Ryan Lynch, Alan Miles, and Martin Rottler to three-year terms and Steve Tustin to a two-year term. Tustin is serving as chair and Konzem vice-chair.

Dwight James has joined the Wheels Up board of directors. James, who is senior v-p of Delta Air Lines, is stepping in for the remaining term of fellow Delta Executive Eric Phillips.

FlyExclusive appointed Douglas Manfredi as senior v-p of operations. Manfredi, a former U.S. Navy intelligence officer, is a pilot who has spent 20 years holding roles in the defense industry, including L3 Technologies, and also has flown for FlyExclusive as a Cessna Citation CJ3 captain.

Lufthansa Technik named Daniel Hepworth head of corporate sales for Europe and Andreas van de Kuil head of corporate sales for Eastern Europe and the CIS. Hepworth, who most recently was general manager of corporate sales for UK, Ireland, France, and Benelux, has more than 20 years of international MRO sales experience including 14 with Lufthansa Technik. Van de Kuil formerly was director of customer service and sales in the Americas for Lufthansa Technik Component Services and has served with the company since 2009.

Kenneth Quinn has joined Clyde & Co as a partner, leading the law firm’s global aviation practice. Based in Washington, D.C., Quinn is a former FAA chief counsel, counselor to the Secretary of Transportation, and senior advisor to the U.S. Offices of the President-elect, and has served on the Royal Aeronautical Society and International Aviation Club boards.

Business Aviation Group added Cameron Singh and Paige Kroner to its aviation consulting team. Singh spent nearly nine years with Signature Flight Support, holding various management roles, and also has founded Cameron Real Estate Properties. Kroner has more than two decades of aviation experience, previously as Central Eastern regional representative for NBAA and before that serving with Signature Flight Support.

Ronnie Ries joined GPMS as v-p of marketing. Ries brings nearly two decades of rotorcraft experience to GPMS, including as chair of the Transportation Research Board Civil Helicopter Subcommittee and as senior manager for Bell’s Commercial Marketing and Customer Experience organization.

Omni Aircraft Sales promoted Ryan Linn to v-p of aircraft sales. Linn originally joined Omni Air Transport as a pilot 15 years ago, moved over to Omni Aircraft Sales as a research analyst in 2015, and most recently was director of aircraft sales as well as remaining a Challenger 604 captain.

Bombardier appointed Christophe Degoumois as an independent executive advisor. Degoumois most recently was v-p of international sales for Bombardier and has more than 17 years of experience with the company.

CMC Electronics promoted Daniel Germain to manager of the displays and sensors business unit. Germain joined CMC in 1989 and has held roles of increasing responsibility including as a product manager and senior product manager in the displays and sensors business unit.

The Air Charter Association (The ACA) named Alina Minaeva as deputy chair of its Next Generation Group formed to support initiatives that attract talent into the industry, as well as focus on sustainability and innovation. Minaeva serves as director of Volanteus.

Northern Plains Unmanned Systems Authority named Trevor Woods executive director of the Northern Plains UAS Test Site (NPUASTS). Woods has been with the NPUASTS since its inception and has formerly served as director of safety and director of operations.

Airport Management Solutions (AMS) promoted Kevin Williams to regional FBO manager, responsible for facilities in Tupelo and Greenville, Mississippi, and a new location to open in Ohio. Prior to assuming his new role, he held the position of quality control supervisor and training manager for AMS. Williams is also former U.S. Air Force nuclear weapons maintenance officer and academic instructor. 

TAC Air appointed Christina Lang general manager of its Spirit of St. Louis Airport facility in Chesterfield, Missouri, and Allison Graham general manager of its Fort Smith, Arkansas FBO. Lang has served with TAC Air for eight years, most recently as the Fort Smith general manager and before that as manager of administrative services in Dallas. Graham, who succeeds Lang, is a 31-year veteran of TAC Air holding roles as ramp hostess, customer service representative, aircraft maintenance administrator, and most recently customer service manager.

Evans Composites (ECI) appointed Nick McDonald as general manager. McDonald joined ECI in 2015 as a sales manager and has more than 27 years of customer relations, sales, and management experience.

Global Aerospace named Rachel Priester director of claims for the U.S. Priester has more than 12 years of insurance industry experience and has served as a managing claim counsel with CNA Insurance and management assistant general counsel for The Hartford.

Charles “Chuck” Gibran joined Bristow Group as director of business development for the Middle East as well as managing director for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Gibran was formerly with PHI International, where he served as general manager of PHI Arabia and director of PHI Middle East operations, and also has served as program director for Saudi Red Crescent Authority’s medevac helicopter program.

Western Jet Aviation named Tom Canavera as business development manager. Canavera has more than 30 years of aviation experience surrounding MRO sales, customer service, operations, and marketing solutions, most recently as sales and marketing manager for Hampton Aviation.

Patt Poinsett was named director of operations and finance for Women in Aviation International (WAI). Poinsett brings 10 years of experience to her new role, previously overseeing finances, facilities, and administration with Wolf Haven International.

West Star Aviation promoted Darren Nash to director of quality assurance. Nash has served with West Star since 2007, holding a number of roles with the quality assurance team.

Global Aerospace named Rachel Priester director of claims for the U.S. Priester has more than 12 years of insurance industry experience and has served as a managing claim counsel with CNA Insurance and management assistant general counsel for The Hartford.

Barry Brown joined the Naples Airport Authority as director of operations and maintenance. Brown has a 10-year background in operations and maintenance at airports including Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International, Southwest Florida International, and most recently a Portland International Jetport in Maine.

Western Aircraft hired Robert Stockton to serve as interior sales manager. Stockton has more than 18 years of aircraft interior design experience, holding design roles with Bombardier, Gulfstream, and Embraer in addition to serving with Garrett Leather and in the U.S. Army.

Awards and Honors

The Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum selected Wally Funk and the Mars Ingenuity Helicopter Team as the recipients of the 2022 Michael Collins Trophy for a lifetime and current achievement, respectively.  Established in 1985, the trophies recognize outstanding achievements in aerospace science and technology.

"You could say the theme of the 2022 awards is 'firsts,'" said Chris Browne, acting director of the museum. "Wally Funk often held the title of 'first' and 'only' throughout her career as a pilot, instructor, and air safety investigator. The Ingenuity team accomplished their 'first' with a flight on another planet and expanded the boundaries of planetary exploration."

Funk, whose first flying lesson came in 1948 at the age of nine, has logged more than 19,600 hours of flight time and soloed more than 700 students.  A top-performing participant in the Lovelace Woman in Space Program, her dream of going to space came true when she traveled aboard the first crewed suborbital mission of Blue Origin's New Shepard capsule. She also was the first woman to serve as an air safety investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board.

In April 2021, the Mars Ingenuity Helicopter Team launched the first powered flight on another planet with a small robotic helicopter. Delivered to the surface of Mars by the rover Perseverance, Ingenuity performed multiple flights as it aided rover exploration of the planet.

Final Flights

Joe Del Balzo, 85, the founder and president of JDA Aviation Technology Solutions and former acting FAA administrator, died from cancer on February 11. Del Balzo founded JDA in 1994 after spending more than three decades with the FAA, culminating in the roles of acting and deputy administrator.

Born In New York, Del Balzo earned an engineering degree from Manhattan College in 1958 and embarked on his public service career with the U.S. Department of Transportation. Beginning as an entry-level engineer with the FAA, Del Balzo later earned a master’s in engineering management from Drexel University in 1967.

Del Balzo moved into a number of senior-level roles with the FAA. He served as the chief technical advisor for Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, coordinating research and development efforts between the U.S. and those regions. He also spoke on behalf of U.S. aviation matters before the International Civil Aviation Organization. In addition, he led the FAA Technical Center. He later assumed the role of executive director of system operations. Del Balzo held the role of deputy administrator and in 1992 and 1993 was acting administrator.