Meritorious Service Award Given During Special Session At
NBAA's first-ever second-day General Session, held Wednesday at
the Association's Annual Meeting & Convention in Atlanta, was a
celebration of heroes that culminated with presentation of NBAA's
2010 Meritorious Service Award to golfing legend, businessman and
American icon Arnold Palmer.
The Meritorious Service to Aviation Award, NBAA's highest, is
presented annually to an individual who, by virtue of a lifetime of
personal dedication, has made identifiable contributions that have
materially advanced the industry's interests. Since 1950, NBAA has
presented this award to numerous outstanding individuals, from
Charles Lindbergh to Senator Barry Goldwater.
A pilot since 1956, Arnold Palmer has amassed more than 19,000
flight hours and earned multiple type ratings. "Arnie" took flying
lessons at his hometown airport in Latrobe, PA, at a field that
bears his name. Palmer has owned and flown numerous business
aircraft, from an Aero Commander to a Citation X. He even set an
around-the-world speed record in a Learjet 36.
Palmer continues to rely on business aviation today. He remarked
that On Tuesday he flew from Orlando to Charlotte to conduct some
business, returning in time to be in his Florida office by early
But, as NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen explained during today's
award ceremony, "it is Arnold Palmer's service to the industry that
is the reason we are presenting him with the Meritorious Service
Award today. Arnold Palmer has been willing to use his good name to
promote business aviation at a time when we needed it most."
Speaking out for business aviation is nothing new for Palmer,
who after the air traffic controllers' strike of 1981 helped
explain the new, complicated reservation system set up for general
aviation operations. Most recently, when policymakers and opinion
leaders were disparaging business aviation after auto industry
executives flew in company airplanes to ask for government
financial assistance, the industry again turned to Palmer.
Besides getting a standing ovation from the audience, Palmer
received videotaped congratulations from renowned investor and
fellow No Plane No Gain spokesman Warren Buffett.
In accepting the award, Palmer thanked NBAA and everyone
present, saying, "As a young boy I dreamed of flying, and aviation
has allowed me to visit places all over the world and spend extra
time with my family. I wouldn't be here today without my airplane.
"I met a lot of great people while playing golf," continued Palmer,
"but business aviation has a lot of great people too. It's been a