People in Aviation

 - January 3, 2023, 9:38 AM

Precise Flight promoted Bill Hoback to COO. Hoback has worked for Precise Flight for more than a decade, starting out in sales and most recently serving as general manager. Before joining Precise Flight, Hoback worked for Cessna Aircraft in assembly, quality, flight line, customer service, and special projects.

Richard Ziskind has been appointed chief commercial officer of Alerion Aviation. Ziskind has more than 30 years of experience in the aviation industry, having most recently served as v-p and managing director for Crystal Luxury Air. Before that, he held senior positions with large multi-fleet airlines, private jet companies, and special aircraft platforms for large commercial programs, international government entities, and heads of state. 

Robert Thor Dranitzke has joined Solairus Aviation’s executive management team. Dranitzke brings 25 years of operational, financial, and executive leadership experience across the aviation industry, having most recently co-founded Milestone Aviation Group, where he also served as managing director and executive v-p of commercial. In addition, he previously held the role of COO at NetJets Europe and currently serves on the board of Omni Helicopters International.

Silver Air promoted Chuck Stumpf to president of sales and acquisitions. Stumpf has more than two decades of experience in business aviation and joined Silver Air in 2014, previously serving as president of business development. Before that, he founded and served as president of his own private jet sales, acquisitions, and consulting services company.

The Aeronautical Repair Station Association (ARSA) board of directors elected Josh Krotec, senior v-p of First Aviation Services, to serve as its 2023 president. Krotec succeeds Terrell Siegfried—assistant general counsel and corporate secretary of Nordam—who will remain on the board. Krotec has been engaged in the association’s volunteer leadership for several years, serving as government affairs chairman before his election to the board in 2019. Additionally, Gary Fortner, v-p of engineering for Fortner Engineering & Manufacturing, was elected for the third time to serve as ARSA v-p; Bob Mabe, director of regulatory compliance for HAECO Americas, will serve as the association’s treasurer; and Rob Roedts, Columbia Helicopters v-p of aircraft solutions, and Jonathan Silva, president and CEO of AeroKool Aviation, were elected to initial one-year terms on the board.

RTCA—a private, not-for-profit association founded in 1935 as the Radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics—named NBAA COO Chris Rocheleau to its board of directors, succeeding outgoing NBAA COO Steve Brown. Rocheleau joins Dr. Kerry Buckley, v-p for Mitre’s Center for Advanced Aviation System Development, as new members.

The Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) announced new appointments to its executive committee for 2023. AIA elected Tom Gentile, president and CEO of Spirit AeroSystems, to serve as chairman of the board of governors and Theodore “Ted” Colbert III, executive v-p of Boeing and president and CEO of Boeing Defense, Space, and Security, to serve as vice chairman. Eric Fanning has been reelected as AIA president and CEO. 

Brett Pierson was promoted by Textron Aviation to the role of senior v-p of defense and special missions, which includes serving as president and CEO of Textron Aviation Defense. Pierson had been v-p of defense strategy and sales for the past two years and will succeed Tom Hammoor, who is retiring after serving in the role for seven years. Pierson is a former Naval officer and pilot who joined Textron Aviation Defense in 2017 as a senior test pilot.

Crystal Gordon was appointed by Gogo as executive v-p, general counsel, and secretary, succeeding Margee Elias, who is retiring. Gordon’s aviation career spans more than 20 years, including similar roles at Era Helicopters and Air Methods. She joins Gogo from Bristow Group, where she served as senior v-p, general counsel, head of government affairs, and corporate secretary since 2020.

Heads Up Technologies hired Eric Canal as v-p of engineering. Canal has previously held leadership positions with aerospace companies, including 12 years at Panasonic Avionics developing in-flight entertainment, connectivity, and cabin systems (IFE&C). He also spent 13 years at Thales in roles ranging from software development to systems engineering, technical sales, and R&D for cockpit and IFE&C systems.

The National Air Transportation Association (NATA) appointed Alan Stephens, as v-p of regulatory affairs succeeding John McGraw. Stephens was formerly FAA Flight Standards’ acting deputy director of the office of air carrier safety assurance. McGraw will assume a new role within the organization as senior advisor of security.

Mark Duebner was appointed by JSX as v-p of corporate real estate and airport affairs. Duebner has more than 25 years of experience, most recently serving as director of the city of Dallas’s aviation department, overseeing Dallas Love Field, Dallas Executive Airport, and Dallas Vertiport for the past 12 years. In his new role, Duebner is tasked to expand JSX’s national and international footprint, liaising with airport authorities and on-field agents to help sustainably guide the scheduled aircraft charter operator's future growth plans and expansion efforts.

The Colorado Aviation Business Association (CABA) appointed Michael Caflisch, founder of Strategy1 Advisors, as its executive director. Caflisch brings more than 40 years of industry experience to CABA, having spent 26 years with Boeing in numerous roles and leading Aircraft Performance Group as its CEO.

Stevens Aerospace and Defense Systems promoted Travis Fleshman to general manager and John Harris to maintenance manager of its Greenville, South Carolina facility. Fleshman has been with Stevens since 2014 in various positions, from aircraft technician to maintenance manager. Harris joined Stevens in 2004 and has served previously as an aircraft technician, crew lead, and, most recently, in a customer-facing position as a technical service representative.

Clint Bloom and Jennifer Skelton were hired by Gulfstream Aerospace as regional sales managers for customer support. Bloom has more than 22 years of aviation experience, spending the last seven in corporate aviation maintenance, repair, and overhaul sales. He will support customers in Arizona and Northern California. Skelton brings more than 15 years of aviation experience to Gulfstream, specializing in supply chain, sales, and customer service. She is now responsible for supporting customers in Kansas, Missouri, Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan.

SmartJets hired Konstantin Kozenko as sales director, focusing on international sales in Eastern Europe, and Yvette Clack as lead sales support and market analyst at its Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport facility. Kozenko’s previous experience includes founding aviation brokerage company FlyConstant in 2012 and working with aircraft management companies, charter operators, cargo operators, service providers, and maintenance facilities, including ExecuJet, AirX, MNG Airlines, ACASS, and Swan Aviation. Clack has prior experience as a sales director at Wheels Up and regional sales manager at Jetex.

Idriss Abdelaziz was hired by Jetcraft as sales director to strengthen the company’s established footprint in the EMEA region. Before joining Jetcraft, Abdelaziz was a managing partner at Swiss jet broker AeroProp, following an eight-year career in investment banking. In his new role, he will manage Jetcraft’s sales, acquisitions, and trades across 19 territories, including France, Benelux, Southern Europe, and Northern Africa.

Awards and Honors

Will Cutter and Cutter Aviation were inducted into the International Air & Space Hall of Fame at the San Diego Air & Space Museum. The recognition “commemorates over 94 years of commitment to aviation and the hard work and dedication of the Cutter family to the industry,” according to the company. Cutter Aviation was founded in 1928 by William P. Cutter and is now under the family’s third generation of leadership, making it the oldest family-owned and operated FBO in the world. Under Will Cutter’s direction, the family business has expanded from two locations to eleven, having facilities spread throughout the Southwest offering aircraft fuel/line services, maintenance and avionics solutions, aircraft charter and management, and aircraft sales.

F. Roger Hardesty, founder of Bizjet International, was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame on November 17. Hardesty, a diversified real estate developer and builder, began his career in concrete finishing in 1959 in Tulsa. He founded and operated more than 25 different business ventures including Mid-Continent Concrete, Alliance Transportation, United States Aviation, and the Quarry Landfill. Today, the Hardesty Family owns and operates an independent FBO chain, worldwide aircraft charter services, and Black Hawk helicopter air crane businesses. As a pilot, Hardesty has logged in excess of 14,000 flight hours with 15 jet ATP type ratings including the Gulfstream 550, Northrop F-5A and F-5B, and Sikorsky Black Hawk. He also has performed in air shows and television commercials in his Northrop F-5A.

Final Flight

James “Jim” C. Ladd Jr.—former chief pilot for Union Pacific Railroad, writer, and AIN contributor—passed away on October 7 at age 76. Ladd learned to fly at an early age from his father, James Sr., a WWII flight instructor and pioneer in corporate aviation. He served in Vietnam and later became a corporate pilot where he flew for more than 40 years. During his distinguished career, he had the opportunity to fly many of the earliest corporate aircraft to the most modern.

Before his retirement in 2013, he helped develop the University of Omaha’s flight program and served on its board. Ladd also led the founding of the Nebraska Business Aviation Association to strengthen the presence of corporate aviation in the state. As a writer and contributor to AIN, he wrote numerous pilot reports and articles on new aircraft. Additionally, Ladd spent countless hours mentoring youth that aspired to pursue careers in aviation, offering advice and sharing his wisdom.