Washington, DC – The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) has selected Albert Lee Ueltschi, chairman and CEO of FlightSafety International, Inc., as the recipient of the 2001 NBAA American Spirit Award. This award recognizes an individual within business aviation who exemplifies the courage, pursuit of excellence and service to others that characterize men and women who created and nurtured the American aviation community.
Born on May 15, 1917, in Frankfort, KY, Al Ueltschi learned to fly at an early age, soloing at 16 at an airfield not far from his home on a Kentucky dairy farm. As a youth, he gave flying lessons, staged his own air shows and barnstormed around the country in an open cockpit aircraft, and as a student at the University of Kentucky, he continued to polish his in-flight teaching skills. Moving on to chief pilot duties for Queen City Flying, based in Cincinnati, OH, the young Ueltschi filled his log book with the varied flying experience needed for his next move.
Ueltschi gained many thousands of airline flying hours by joining Pan American World Airways in 1941. He later was selected for one of the airline’s most unusual piloting jobs – flying the business aircraft of the company’s president and founder, Juan Trippe. Trippe’s personal aircraft was typical of the day, a fast, converted World War II machine. These transitional corporate aircraft became the foundation of the nation’s business aviation industry. Ueltschi observed that the pilots of these aircraft had no access to the benefits of the formal training that he had experienced as an airline professional. The founding of FlightSafety International was inspired by this insight. He established the pilot training company at New York’s LaGuardia Airport in 1951. While constantly diversifying the company, within its aviation-training specialty he remained an active Pan American pilot until taking FlightSafety International public in 1968.
Since the early ’80s, he has been closely involved with Project Orbis, an international nonprofit aircraft-based teaching eye hospital that travels to the world’s less-developed areas to teach sight-saving techniques and surgical procedures. As it is an aviation-related concept, Ueltschi has advised and contributed to the Orbis cause through its transition from idea to execution, first as a DC-8 aircraft (for 10 years) and now as a DC-10 airliner hospital/clinic and teaching facility. Ueltschi has served for many years as chairman of Orbis International.
Ueltschi is a director of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) and recipient of the 1991 NBAA Award for Meritorious Service to Aviation, 1991 FAA Award for Extraordinary Service and 1994 Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy. He is a father of four and grandfather of 12.