NBAA Presents American Spirit Award to Capt. ‘Sully’ Sullenberger

Contact: Dan Hubbard, (202)

Las Vegas, NV, Oct. 13, 2017 – The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) this week presented hero-pilot Capt. “Sully” Sullenberger with the association’s American Spirit Award, for speaking out in opposition to the highly controversial concept of air traffic control (ATC) privatization.

“We know that when an American hero and aviation expert with 50 years’ flying experience speaks out against ATC privatization, policymakers in Washington will listen,” said NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen. “We are honored that he brought his name and credibility to this debate, and it is our privilege to recognize him with this award.” 

Proposals for privatizing ATC have been promoted as Congress debates reauthorization of funding and programs for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Such proposals would strip congressional oversight for the nation’s aviation system, and hand that authority over to a private, airline-centric group of special interests, unaccountable to Congress. Earlier this year, legislation was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives (H.R. 2997), reflecting such a plan.  

NBAA has been joined by more than 200 aviation groups, 100 business leaders, 100 U.S. mayors, consumer groups, liberal and conservative think tanks, members of Congress from both political parties and a majority of American citizens in raising pressing concerns about the concept.

In a video advertisement detailing his opposition to the legislation, Sullenberger said, “Lobbyists want to privatize air traffic control, handing control to the largest airlines, giving them the keys to the kingdom. We can’t trust the people who make your airline seats smaller to run ATC. This would allow a corporate monopoly to make decisions that put profits ahead of safety, and would devastate rural communities.” View the full video advertisement.

Sullenberger is also featured in a video – along with astronaut Capt. Jim Lovell, air show champion Sean Tucker, military pilot and former Thunderbird Gen. “Fig” Newton and country singer Dierks Bentley – opposing H.R. 2997. In the video, as in the earlier advertisement, Sullenberger calls ATC privatization “a threat to our nation’s security, safety, access and basic fairness.” The video was unveiled on Oct. 10 during the opening general session for NBAA’s Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (NBAA-BACE). View the NBAA-BACE video.

NBAA presented Sullenberger with the American Spirit Award as part of the convention’s second-day general session.

The NBAA American Spirit Award is presented in recognition of an individual who exemplifies the courage, pursuit of excellence and service to others that characterize men and women who created and nurtured the American aviation community.


NBAA-BACE is the world’s largest and most important business aviation event, offering unparalleled access to vendors, products and aircraft. The 2017 NBAA-BACE was held at the Las Vegas Convention Center and Henderson Executive Airport from Oct. 10-12. Read more about this year’s NBAA-BACE.