Several inspirational figureheads of business aviation and aerospace opened day two of NBAA 2017. NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen began the second-day general session by awarding the entire business aviation community with the Al Ueltschi Award for Humanitarian Leadership for its active role in hurricane relief. “Business aviation’s value has always been demonstrated through its critical role in supporting humanitarian endeavors,” he said. “This community is filled with leaders who want to help their fellow citizens, and that desire has been evidenced through the work done to help those impacted by these terrible storms."
Joan Sullivan Garrett of MedAire (Booth N3510) received this year’s Meritorious Service Award and celebrated pilot “Sully” Sullenberger received the American Spirit Award for his fight against ATC privatization. Astronaut twins Scott and Mark Kelly closed the session by sharing personal experiences and applying the lessons they learned to the bizav industry.
Mark Kelly shared an especially harrowing tale of when he was a A6 Intruder attack pilot, just when Saddam Hussein had invaded Kuwait in the early 1990s. He and fellow pilot Paul Fujimura were tasked to fly over the turbulent southern coast of Iraq as their first combat mission. Kelly described looking over his shoulder to see a missile growing closer and closer to their aircraft. When he mentioned this to Fujimura, the bombardier-navigator told Kelly he was busy focusing on his target. Kelly rolled away the missile. From this experience, he noted that it is beneficial to focus on aspects that you have control over rather than the ones you don't.
Scott Kelly spoke about leadership during his one year at the International Space Station with Russian astronaut Mikhail Korniyenko in 2015. Once he was back home with his family, he reflected on all he had learned in the one year. The time he spent in space allowed Kelly to cultivate his leaderships skills and understand that leadership is situational. Some experiences may call for a strict leader while others call for a “cheerleader.” It’s up to the leader to read the situation, empathize and decide what kind of leader their community needs at the moment, he said.
“If we focus on the things we can control, if we test the status quo and if we work as a team, we can do anything. We can choose to do the hard things, and if we do that the sky is not the limit,” Scott Kelly concluded.