NATA Announces Industry Excellence Awards Recipients

The National Air Transportation Association (NATA) announced the recipients of its Industry Excellence Awards given annually to individuals, offices, and organizations that have helped improve the general aviation community.

Airport Commission · 4/21/2016

Today, the National Air Transportation Association (NATA) announced the recipients of its Industry Excellence Awards given annually to individuals, offices, and organizations that have helped improve the general aviation community:

The ATP/NATA General Aviation Service Technician Award (sponsored by Aircraft Technical Publishers) acknowledges the exceptional performance of a licensed airframe and powerplant mechanic or radio repairman who has practiced his or her craft for a period of 20 or more years. NATA will present this year’s award to Mr. Mark E. Jensen, Director of Maintenance and Managing Partner at Bakersfield Jet Center by Loyd’s Aviation, for his 47 years of providing the highest quality of general aviation maintenance service. Trusted by his customers and a mentor to new hires — Jensen is known for finding simple solutions to complicated problems.

Mr. Mark R. Davidson, A.A.E., Airport Director at Smith Reynolds Airport, Winston-Salem, NC is the recipient of the NATA Airport Executive Partnership Award. This award recognizes an airport manager for his or her efforts to foster relationships between aviation businesses and airport operators. Mr. Davidson’s leadership promotes true “partnership” with airport tenants and businesses. He strives to understand and improve the day-to-day operations of the FBOs, MROs and other aviation businesses at Smith Reynolds. His advancement of relations between the airport’s businesses and the Airport Commission of Forsyth County returned Smith Reynolds Airport to profitability — in turn, making the facility a key contributor to the Winston-Salem aviation industry and local community.

The recipient of NATA’s Excellence In Pilot Training Award is Ben Gabriel, Director of Training at ATP Flight School. This award recognizes an individual or organization for outstanding contributions in safety, professionalism, leadership and excellence in the field of pilot training. Mr. Gabriel currently leads a training department with over 260 aircraft and a staff of 230 flight instructors. In 2015 alone, Gabriel oversaw 160,000 accident-free hours of flight training and the issuance of more than 4,400 pilot certificates and ratings. He also manages the very program that began his career in 1999, the ATP Airline Career Pilot Program, and is responsible for over 550 students enrolled in program. Mr. Gabriel is dedicated to ensuring ATP Flight School provides a safe, efficient and effective training program.

NATA’s FAA Service Excellence Award goes to the Phoenix TRACON as an FAA facility that demonstrates the highest degree of professionalism to aviation businesses. In 2015, the Phoenix TRACON successfully managed flights during Super Bowl 49™, an event that featured increased traffic to the Phoenix metro area in a period also challenged by unusual weather. Recognizing the need to implement an air traffic management system during the busy weekend, the facility combined efforts with local industry stakeholders and customers to streamline the influx of 1,200 additional aircraft in the area — executing arrivals and departures without any delays.

Mr. Ratu Tuuhetoka, Lead Operations Specialist at Alliance Aviation Services, will receive the second annual Safety 1st Certified Line Service Professional Award. This award recognizes the achievements of certified line service professionals demonstrating their positive impact on safety, service and business success. Mr. Tuuhetoka is highly involved with all areas of training at Alliance Aviation Services, including aircraft towing, marshalling, fueling and inclement weather. He leads by example through his understanding and demonstration of the importance of safety and customer service. He is well-respected by his line service team, management and customers — often taking the initiative to mentor new hires and cross-train customer service representatives.

“So many talented and dedicated individuals and teams have contributed to the success of NATA and the industry over the 75-year history of the association. This year’s honorees exemplify the wide range of aviation business professionals worthy of recognition and celebration in our Anniversary year,” stated NATA President and CEO Thomas L. Hendricks.

The week of April 25th, NATA will announce the recipients of the William A. “Bill” Ong Memorial Award and Distinguished Service Award. All awards will be presented during a luncheon on June 9th at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill. The association will hold the luncheon in conjunction with its Aviation Business Conference.

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

NATA, the voice of aviation business for 75 years, is the public policy group representing the interests of aviation businesses before Congress and the federal agencies.

For more information about NATA, please visit, or

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