NBAA Opening Session Celebrates Past, Present, Future of General Aviation

Contact: Dan Hubbard at (202) 783-9360 or

ATLANTA, GA, September 25, 2007 – The National Business Aviation Association’s (NBAA’s) Opening General Session today marked what President and CEO Ed Bolen called “an opportunity to celebrate the past, present and future” of business aviation.

“We’re here not only to recognize the past, but also to pay tribute to the present and build for the future,” Bolen said to a full house at a Georgia World Congress Center auditorium filled with some of the 27,000-plus opening day Attendees at the NBAA 60th Annual Meeting & Convention (NBAA2007).

Bolen hosted the official opening in a session that featured keynote speakers beginning with U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters, and including two well-known aviation enthusiasts, Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue and Cox Enterprises’ President and Chief Operating Officer Jimmy W. Hayes.

Peters said there is “a lot to be excited about in the business aviation community,” including technological advances in aircraft, avionics and safety, and praised recent increases in sales of general aviation aircraft.

Perdue enthusiastically welcomed NBAA to Atlanta to “the real state of aviation,” and proudly ran down Georgia’s list of general aviation superlatives:  eighth-largest general aviation industry in the U.S., with 83,000 people employed in over 500 aerospace and aviation companies; 262 privately owned airports and 207 public airports, including the nation’s busiest, Hartsfield Jackson in Atlanta.

The governor also congratulated Cessna for its $24 million expansion at its facility in Columbus, and Gulfstream for its planned $400 million investment that is expected to bring another 1,100 jobs to Savannah.

Cox Enterprises’ Hayes spoke of how he came to be passionate about aviation, learning to fly as a young man in Georgia, and today overseeing a flight department operated in support of Cox’s global operations.

“Our business aircraft operation is vital to our company’s success,” Hayes said, enabling Cox technicians and managers to troubleshoot problems with the company’s cable and communications systems during storms and outages caused by natural disasters, such as Hurricane Katrina in the New Orleans area.

Bolen paid tribute to the general aviation community’s storied history, which this year includes the 60th anniversary of NBAA and the 100th anniversary of powered flight in Georgia.

He recognized Pat Epps, himself a legendary Georgia aviator, whose father, Ben Epps, built and piloted the first powered aircraft in Georgia in 1907, and a 23-year-old pilot from Georgia, Jamail Larkins, whose passion for aviation began in childhood and who today is a youth ambassador for the Federal Aviation Association.

Both Epps and Larkin were aboard the symbolic flight from New York to Atlanta aboard a very light jet on September 22, “which has sparked so much excitement in our industry,” and which points to the continuation of a vibrant future for general aviation, Bolen said.

# # #

Founded in 1947 and based in Washington, DC, the National Business Aviation Association, Inc. (NBAA) is the leading organization for companies that rely on general aviation aircraft to help make their businesses more efficient, productive and successful. The Association represents more than 8,000 companies and provides more than 100 products and services to the business aviation community, including the NBAA Annual Meeting & Convention, the world’s largest civil aviation trade show. Learn more about NBAA at

Members of the media may receive NBAA Press Releases immediately via e-mail. To subscribe to the NBAA Press Release e-mail list, submit the online form at