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June 6, 2012updated Feb 11, 2013

Award Winner: Flights Options’ Kenn Ricci Gets Lifetime Achievement Award from NATA

By Pardhasaradhi Gonuguntla

CLEVELAND, OH –Reported by Elite Traveler, the private jet lifestyle magazine

June 5, 2012 – Flight Options, LLC, the second-largest company in the private jet travel industry, today announced that its chairman, Kenneth Ricci, has received the William A. Ong Memorial Award from the National Air Transportation Association. Presented annually since 1984, the Ong Memorial Award is given for “extraordinary achievement and extended meritorious service to the general aviation industry,” and is considered one of the industry’s most prestigious accolades. Ricci becomes the youngest-ever recipient of this lifetime achievement award.

“I am honored, and deeply grateful, that the National Air Transportation Association has selected me as this year’s winner of the William A. Ong Memorial Award,” said Ricci. “I regard the award not simply as a personal honor but as recognition of the men and women of Flight Options and the other aviation companies with which I have been honored to have been associated. My success is built on the foundation of their talent and efforts.”

Ricci, who has spent more than three decades developing innovative services in the aviation industry, revolutionized the fractional aircraft ownership industry by founding Flight Options in 1998. Within four years, he grew Flight Options to rank as the second-largest company in the industry. In 2011, Flight Options posted its third consecutive year of sales and operating gains, making it one of the few aviation companies to see such sustained success.

Since founding aircraft management and corporate charter operator Corporate Wings in 1980, Ricci has launched or led other aviation enterprises including Nextant Aerospace, Constant Aviation and Inertial Airline Services. He also has played a key role in such ventures as the restructuring of Mercury Air Centers, which was sold to Macquarie Infrastructure Trust in 2007 in a deal valued at $615 million.

In addition to leading several aviation operating companies, Ricci also is the principal of Directional Aviation Capital, which owns or invests in various aviation enterprises including Flight Options, and is an operating partner at Resilience Capital Partners, a private equity firm with a wide variety of portfolio companies, including an investment in Flight Options.

Ricci has been honored as an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of Year in 2000, has received four NEO Success Awards for business growth and, in 2010, received the Harvard Business School’s Dively Entrepreneurship Award. He also has been named one the most influential people in aviation by Aviation International News.

Ricci is an alumnus of the University of Notre Dame and the Cleveland Marshall School of Law. He also is a type-rated pilot in Gulfstream, Falcon and Citation jet and served as personal pilot to President Bill Clinton during his first race for president. Ricci serves on several corporate boards and is the aviation advisor to the Guggenheim Aero Opportunity Fund. Ricci also serves on the Business Advisory Council of the University of Notre Dame, the Board of Trustees of University Hospitals, The National Board of Childhelp and Gilmour Academy.

Ricci’s management strategies have been featured in the Wall Street Journal and Inc. Magazine. He is the Author of “Management by Trust”, a book featuring practical management techniques for building employee trust and success which was praised by the New York Times Book Review as a “landmark success manual for corporate America.”

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