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NBAA2012 Dedicated to Legacy of Neil Armstrong

October 30, 2012

Cutting the ribbon to officially open NBAA’s 65th Annual Meeting & Convention (NBAA2012) at today's Opening General Session, Association President and CEO Ed Bolen dedicated this year’s show to “the legacy of American hero Neil Armstrong.”

“Neil Armstrong was a very humble giant. He never sought the spotlight,” said Bolen, “but when responsibility called, when challenges arose, Neil Armstrong always stepped forward. That was true for our country and it’s certainly been true for our industry.”

When Washington policymakers were vilifying business aviation in the wake of the 2008 auto bailout, Armstrong joined the No Plane No Gain campaign sponsored by NBAA and the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) to help raise awareness of this essential industry.

It was a personal decision for Armstrong. In addition to serving as a NASA astronaut, he piloted more than 200 different aircraft, was an aerospace engineer and university professor, and set five world records in business jets as a business aviation pilot.

As Bolen said, Armstrong decided to “step forward and make a positive and very powerful statement about an industry [he] loved.” Armstrong appeared in No Plane No Gain ads alongside golf legend Arnold Palmer and businessman Warren Buffett.

During the tribute, Bolen welcomed back to the Convention stage four legendary aviators who stood alongside Armstrong at NBAA2010: Palmer, fellow astronaut Gene Cernan, charter founder and aerial photographer Clay Lacy and former Cessna CEO Russ Meyer. At NBAA’s 2010 Convention, all five were presented with the FAA Master Pilot Award, and Bolen said it was fitting to have them together again as this year’s show was dedicated to Armstrong.

Industry’s Economic Importance Underscored by Business and Government Leaders

Following the dedication to Armstrong, Bolen introduced two members of Congress who have been steadfast champions of business aviation, Rep. John Mica (R-7-FL), the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS), a member of the Senate GA Caucus.

Mica lamented that more of his colleagues “don’t understand business aviation is one of the great engines of our economy and of a free enterprise system.” Both legislators cited the importance of passing a Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill that supported NextGen and imposed no user fees on general aviation, as well as maintaining accelerated depreciation and ensuring that environmental and security regulations are sensible.

Emphasizing how business aviation helped rural communities connect to the global economy, Moran said, “If you want a future for your community in rural America, you have to have access to an airplane and an airport.”

Two business leaders, Forbes publisher Rich Karlgaard and electronics pioneer Bill Crutchfield, also spoke about the importance of business aviation to the economy.

For instance, in talking about the No Plane No Gain campaign, Crutchfield said that for him, “gain” means creating more than 5,000 jobs in a rural Virginia town – something he would not have been able to do without his company's King Air.

Following their remarks, Bolen presented the Al Ueltschi Award for Humanitarian leadership to FedEx Chairman, President and CEO Fred Smith for his company’s work on behalf of ORBIS, the flying eye hospital established by Ueltschi.

For more information about the Opening General Session participants, review past press releases: