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Kern Award Recipient Built a Legacy of Sharing Pilot Safety Skills

Feb. 6, 2024

Simply put, Lee “Monty” Hall – recipient of NBAA‘s 2023 Dr. Tony Kern Professionalism in Aviation Award – is a teacher. Over the decades, Hall has followed a career path created partly by choice – and partly revelation.

“In the flying biz, especially in the military, it is always about accumulating skills and knowledge, and sharing what you have accumulated with the next generation of pilots,” said Hall, a senior advanced instructor at Aviation Performance Solutions, which provides upset prevention and recovery training in Mesa, AZ.

Hall’s teaching career began in the 1980s, after graduating from U.S. Air Force Undergraduate Pilot Training. “From the top cohort who qualified for fighters, the Air Force selected those whose first assignment would be as an instructor pilot.” Hall remembered. “We were ‘volun-told.’ But I didn’t mind, and I excelled because it fit my personality.”

He was the top graduate in his instructor pilot upgrade class, and over the next three years he built his skills and knowledge in the T-37 and shared them as a check and evaluation pilot before moving on to the F-16 Fighting Falcon.

Flying the F-16 for more than 20 years, Hall logged more than 2,500 hours, 313 of them in combat. He served as an instructor pilot, weapons officer, flight commander, operations officer, commander of the 421st Fighter Squadron and commander of the 388th Operations Group – retiring as a colonel in 2006.

During the next 11 years, Hall managed the Air Force Initial Flight Training Program for prospective pilots in Pueblo, CO. Then, in 2017, figuring he had “one more flying job left in me,” he joined Aviation Performance Solutions, where he’s been working full time to mitigate pilots’ leading fatal risk and inflight loss of control.

“Most civilian pilots – given their training aircraft and curriculum – are not exposed to the full envelope of three-dimensional flight,” he said. “Our whole goal here is to introduce them to – and make them confident in – the all-attitude environment.”

Hall shares with each of his students the advice he received from his first squadron commander – a former POW who went on to lead the USAF Thunderbirds.

“Before I close the canopy, I remind myself to pay attention. If I don’t, I could die today,” Hall said. “Sharing his accumulated knowledge and skills with students and watching them grow as pilots is the most meaningful and fulfilling aspect of my job.”

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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