NATA Gives Top Honors To Industry Greats

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The National Air Transportation Association (NATA) is pleased to announce the recipients of NATA’s highest honors. The William A. “Bill” Ong Memorial Award, will be presented posthumously to James C. Christiansen and the NATA Distinguished Service Award will be presented to Mark C. Willey. The Awards Presentation Luncheon will take place June 9th in conjunction with the NATA Aviation Business Conference.

The William A. “Bill” Ong Memorial Award, is named in honor and memory of the association’s co-founder and first president and given for extraordinary achievement and extended meritorious service to the general aviation industry. This year’s award recognizes James C. Christiansen, a renowned aviator, business leader, industry advocate, mentor and friend whose involvement in the aviation community spanned more than 50 years.

Christiansen, a decorated Army helicopter pilot, was a pioneer in establishing the fractional ownership market. His early achievements include managing a fleet of approximately 70 aircraft for Jet Aviation Business Jets as President of the company and serving as President for Executive Jet Aviation of Columbus, Ohio.

Christiansen was later recruited by the Rockefeller family to be President of its aircraft management company, Wayfarer Ketch, in White Plains, New York. While at Wayfarer, Christiansen and his team started a new fractional aviation company called StarShares. In 2001, Christiansen returned to Executive Jet to serve in an executive role with its fractional program NetJets. He was promoted to President of NetJets Aviation in January 2007. In March 2010, Christiansen was appointed Vice President of Sales, Central U.S. at Hawker Beechcraft, where he managed a sales team responsible for the sale of Hawker jets in the central U.S.

During his personal rise in business, Christiansen was also committed to supporting the growth of the industry. His years of service to NATA culminated in his tenure as a member of the association’s Board of Directors and appointment to serve as its chairman in 2001. He was selected to chair the FAA’s Fractional Ownership Aviation Rulemaking Committee that developed the regulations governing fractional operations. He was also a founding member and served as chairman of the Air Charter Safety Foundation.

“The aviation community will gather in June to celebrate the life and career of a giant in the industry,” stated NATA President and CEO Thomas L. Hendricks. “Jim Christiansen’s numerous accomplishments coupled with the immense reverence of his colleagues and friends made him the clear choice for NATA’s highest honor in our 75th year of service.”

This year’s NATA Distinguished Service Award, recognizing outstanding service and ongoing contributions to the general aviation industry, goes to Mark Willey, CEO and managing partner of Napa Jet Center. Willey is an aviation professional with over twenty-five years of senior management experience directing services and manufacturing initiatives. He has led various-sized businesses enhancing their ability to develop their vision and strategic plans as well as increase employee motivation.

Willey has served on corporate boards affording him the opportunity to develop strategies and make decisions at the highest level. His current corporate and aviation-related affiliations include the National Air Transportation Association Presidents Council as well as the Society of Aerospace Engineers. He is a member of an elite industry peer organization, FBO#1 20 Group.

Willey served as a member of the National Air Transportation Association Board of Directors, the Service Center Round Table Executive Committee and the National Business Aviation Association Business Management Committee. He spent seven years on the Board of Directors of the Napa Chamber of Commerce and Legislative Action Committee, is a past Honorary Board member of the Napa Valley Hospice and is a Rotarian member.

“It is with great pride that NATA will honor Mark Willey’s dedication, expertise and support of the aviation community as the winner of the association’s Distinguished Service Award,” stated Hendricks. “Mark’s role as a coach for developing managers and companies of all sizes in leadership, performance improvement, team dynamics, strategic planning, and interpersonal relationships is invaluable to the industry and we rely on him as an expert resource for the association.”

Contact Karissa Uko at kuko@nata.aero or Kim Blankenship at kblankenship@nata.aero for more information on NATA’s Industry Excellence Awards Presentation Luncheon and to secure tickets.

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