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Kern Award Winner Michael Kopp: Business Aviation Is Dynamic, So Stay Engaged

To succeed in any facet of aviation, and especially in business aviation, Michael Kopp, vice president and director of operations for Jet Linx and recipient of NBAA ‘s 2023 Dr. Tony Kern Professionalism in Aviation Award, urges people to embrace a constant desire to improve and evolve.

“Aviation is a dynamic industry that everyday poses new challenges and hurdles,” said Kopp. “Some are bigger than others, and some result in a setback. Regardless the outcome, stay engaged, push toward your next goal and never stop learning – never think the job is done.”

His father Bill – who learned to fly after serving in Vietnam and owned a series of Pipers, including a Cherokee, a Lance, a Saratoga and a twin-engine Seneca – introduced Kopp to aviation. By example and mentorship, his father “still sets the tone for professionalism, work ethic and discipline to do things right and finish the job.”

Growing up in Eau Claire, WI, Kopp learned to fly in high school, and earned his trio of flight instructor ratings at Spartan School of Aeronautics in Oklahoma. While teaching there, he earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration at Phillips University. Looking for his next challenge, a former student flying for a Nebraska construction company recommended that Kopp apply to succeed him there, where he flew a Beech B-58 Baron throughout the Midwest. “Flying to and from mostly non-towered fields, I learned what a cruise clearance was,” Kopp recalled.

And he also learned about the flying business. In addition to flying salespeople and maintenance teams, he was responsible for the fixed-base operation and the Part 135 regulations and operational management.

Kopp joined Omaha, NE-based Jet Linx in 2001, when the company operated a fleet of Mitsubishi MU-300 Diamond jets. Working his way up to chief pilot, he was instrumental in earning the company’s initial Part 135 certificate. In 2013, he became director of operations, overseeing daily aviation activities and working with chief pilots, check pilots, training department, all associated manuals and specifications, as well as serving as FAA liaison.

In addition, he has established and sustained a culture of evolving improvement.

“If you become complacent [and] think you have it all figured out, you’ll fall behind,” Kopp said. “For more than 20 years I’ve seen firsthand what continuous development, curiosity and drive can accomplish, and I look forward to seeing where it takes us in the future.”

Dr. Tony Kern Professionalism in Aviation Award

Nine individuals were selected to receive the NBAA Tony Kern Professionalism in Aviation Award in 2023. Established in 2015 to honor its namesake, the peer-nominated award recognizes individual pilots, maintenance technicians, flight attendants, dispatchers and other aviation professionals who excel in leadership in the areas of professional ethics, vocational excellence, continuous improvement, professional engagement, professional image and selflessness.

Learn more about the NBAA Tony Kern Professionalism in Aviation Award.

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