Living Legends of Aviation Renames Its Lifetime Aviation Entrepreneur Award after Kenn Ricci Emphasis on Building the Next Generation of Aviation Innovators
CLEVELAND, January 22, 2018 – One of the world’s most esteemed aviation awards has been renamed to honor Directional Aviation Principal Kenn Ricci. On January 19, 2018, the Living Legends of Aviation honored him by renaming its annual award for lifetime accomplishments in aviation entrepreneurship the “Kenn Ricci Lifetime Aviation Entrepreneur Award.”
Living Legends of Aviation was founded in 2003 to honor men and women of extraordinary accomplishments in aviation. The organization also financially supports the Kiddie Hawk Air Academy, a nonprofit organization that introduces children to aviation through the Kiddie Hawk Air Trainer and a curriculum that includes aviation coloring books, principles of flight and actual flight lessons, albeit a few feet off the ground. It seeks to create a sense of wonder and interest in aviation that will last a lifetime and inspire children to achieve the academic merit that will enable them to pursue aviation-related careers. Since the Kiddie Hawk Air Trainer was first displayed in 1996, thousands of children have participated in the program.
“I am deeply honored that the Living Legends of Aviation has named its Lifetime Aviation Entrepreneur Award after me,” said Ricci. “And for this honor to come from the very aviation entrepreneurs that I have admired over the years, make this truly a pinnacle in my career.”
This year’s Kenn Ricci Lifetime Aviation Entrepreneur Award was bestowed upon Robert T. Bigelow, founder of Bigelow Aerospace and a pioneer in developing commercially viable, habitable space structures.
At the awards ceremony held at the Beverly Hilton, Ricci articulated his vision of the world of aviation going forward and the need for supporting the next generation of innovators through education, training and outreach. This video captures Ricci’s vision and accomplishments.
“I believe that the aviation and aerospace industries are on the cusp of advances that will forever change flight, with possibilities ranging from hypersonic flight to autonomous passenger aircraft to commercial travel into space,” said Ricci. “It is up to our generation to prepare the next to achieve more than we did. One way to accomplish this is through public and private programs of education, training and outreach.”
Ricci added that he is motivated in part by the philanthropic examples set by such previous recipients of the Lifetime Aviation Entrepreneur Award as Steven Udvar-Házy, co-founder of Air Lease Corp., and the late Albert Ueltschi, said to be the father of modern flight training.
Programs that expose new audiences to aviation are a passion point for Ricci and the Ricci Family Foundation. Ricci and the Ricci Family Foundation are avid supporters of Kiddie Hawk Air Academy as well as Able Flight at the Purdue Polytechnic Institute, which provides people with disabilities, many of them military veterans, the ability to challenge themselves through flight training via a specially equipped Sky Arrow L600 sport plane.
In addition to renaming the award, the organization has included Ricci in what has become an unofficial Living Legends of Aviation tradition. An exclusive edition Breitling watch has been handed down to a select few aviators to mark unique and momentous events in their careers. Kenn Ricci recently received the watch to mark this occasion. Previous recipients have included Living Legends of Aviation member John Travolta and actor Tom Cruise.
“Like other honorees of the Living Legends of Aviation, I have benefitted from the accomplishments and generosity of those who came before me,” Ricci said. “I intend to give back in the same measure, and help the rising generation of aviation professionals succeed.”