Aviation Champion Sen. Bill Nelson to Receive NBAA’s Highest Honor

Contact: Dan Hubbard, (202) 783-9360dhubbard@nbaa.org

Washington, DC – The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) today announced that Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), a longtime champion of general aviation, will receive NBAA’s Meritorious Service to Aviation Award during the association’s 2016 Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (NBAA-BACE), to be held Nov. 1-3 in Orlando, FL.

The Meritorious Service to Aviation Award, which is the business aviation industry’s most distinguished honor, recognizes Nelson’s unwavering support for general aviation over the many years he has served in both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.

First elected to the Senate in 2000, Nelson is an outspoken advocate for business aviation, continually citing its economic importance to Florida, as well as every other state in the nation.

As the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation, Nelson has continually advocated for the interests of general aviation.

For example, when reauthorization of funding and programs for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) was under consideration by Congress in 2007, it was Nelson’s amendment that blocked user fees from being imposed on the industry. This past spring, he cosponsored the bipartisan FAA reauthorization bill introduced by the Commerce Committee, which addressed a number of priorities identified by NBAA and other organizations, while definitively rejecting a privatized Air Traffic Control (ATC) system, funded by user fees. The committee’s bill was passed by the Senate on April 19, with overwhelming bipartisan support.

“Sen. Nelson is a tireless champion for aviation and aerospace, especially general aviation,” said NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen. “He understands and shares our concerns over proposals for privatizing ATC and funding it with user fees. We appreciate his leadership on these and other matters, and we are honored to recognize him with this award.”

Aviation contributes more than $7.5 billion a year to Florida’s economy, and Orlando has frequently been the site for NBAA-BACE, which is one of the country’s largest conventions.

Nelson discussed the importance of aviation to his state’s economy when he appeared as a featured speaker at NBAA-BACE 2014 in Orlando. “We also have schools here with a long and proud tradition of providing students with the training and education they need to thrive in the aviation industry,” Nelson told attendees.

Not only is Nelson a long-serving elected official with a distinguished record of service (he first served in the Florida legislature from 1972-1978, and then as a U.S. Representative from 1978-1990), but he is also a former astronaut for NASA’s Space Shuttle program, making him one of approximately 500 people in human history who have been into outer space. A congressman representing Orlando and the Space Coast while in the U.S. House, Nelson spent six days – Jan. 12-18, 1986 – as a payload specialist on board STS-61C. At mission conclusion, he had traveled over 2.1 million miles in 96 Earth orbits, and logged more than 146 hours in space.

“Throughout his tenure in both the Senate and the House of Representatives, Sen. Nelson has long recognized that general aviation is an essential industry, including in Florida, which is home not only to a number of important manufacturers and suppliers, but also to many citizens and companies of all sizes that rely on general aviation for jobs, connectivity and competitiveness,” Bolen continued. “The senator has always staunchly supported efforts to preserve America’s leadership in aviation, aerospace and military capabilities, and we applaud him for his service to our country.”

NBAA’s selection of Nelson for this year’s Meritorious Service to Aviation Award marks the third time the association has recognized a sitting senator for the honor – Sen. Barry M. Goldwater (R-AZ) received the award in 1983, and it was bestowed upon Sen. A.S. “Mike” Monrovey (D-OK) in 1962.

First presented in 1950, the NBAA Award for Meritorious Service to Aviation is one of the aviation industry’s most important honors. Candidates for the award must be individuals who, by virtue of a lifetime of personal dedication, have made significant identifiable contributions that have materially advanced aviation interests. Such contributions do not necessarily have to be confined to the field of business aviation.

NBAA-BACE is business aviation’s most important annual event, where participants have an unequaled opportunity to view the latest business aircraft, products, technology and services the industry offers. Held at the Orange County Convention Center from Nov. 1-3, the event also offers a premier networking venue, and dozens of education sessions.

Learn more about NBAA-BACE.

# # #

Founded in 1947 and based in Washington, DC, the National Business Aviation Association (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 11,000 companies and provides more than 100 products and services to the business aviation community, including the NBAA Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition, the world’s largest civil aviation trade show. Learn more about NBAA at www.nbaa.org.

Members of the media may receive NBAA press releases immediately via email. To subscribe to the NBAA press release email list, submit the online form.