Wichita Aero Club Trophy to be presented to Cessna chairman emeritus

WICHITA — The fourth annual Wichita Aero Club Trophy will be presented to former Cessna Aircraft Company Chairman Russell W. Meyer, Jr.

Meyer was selected by the Club’s Selection Committee from among 15 nominees.

The WAC Trophy will be presented at the Wichita Aero Club’s annual Trophy Gala at the Doubletree Hotel by Hilton at Wichita Airport on Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014.

“The selection of Russ Meyer for this award surprises no one,” noted Dave Franson, Wichita Aero Club President.“Russ’s contributions to the aviation industry and to the local community are so numerous and so extensive that it would take a book just to list them. He is, without question, a great choice for the Wichita Aero Club Trophy.”

The citation which accompanied the nomination read: “During his more than 25 years as CEO of Cessna Aircraft, Russ Meyer not only led the company to pre-eminence in the global business jet industry, but his industry leadership has been proclaimed as the most far-reaching and effective in the history of general aviation.”

For nearly 40 years Russ Meyer has been “the face” of Wichita’s heralded general aviation industry…and for very good reason, according to club officials. Under his tutelage Cessna designed, developed, built and delivered more business jet aircraft, worldwide, than any other global manufacturer.

Perhaps even more significant are his community and industry achievements, according to club officials. Examples include his initiative to establish a training facility for unskilled workers, which led to jobs and hope for hundreds of Wichitans and their families. Also, his efforts were instrumental in leading to Congress’ enactment of the General Aviation Revitalization Act of 1994, which after a decade, re-opened the doors for aircraft manufacturers to produce single engine aircraft, again, creating hundreds of new area jobs, club officials noted.

Meyer’s national awards include: the Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy, the Collier Trophy (twice, once jointly with Cessna), and election to the National Aviation Hall of Fame. A 14,000 hour pilot, he is type rated in all Cessna products.

A graduate of Yale and Harvard Law School, Meyer served as a Marine Corps jet fighter pilot from 1958–1961, practiced law in Cleveland for five years, then served as CEO of Grumman American Aviation Corp. from 1966-1974, before joining Cessna in 1974, rising to chairman/CEO the following year. He is also the only executive to serve as Chairman of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) three times.

He was elected into the Kansas Aviation Hall of Fame in 1996 and was named Kansan of the Year in 1998. Meyer and his wife, Helen, have been among Wichita’s most generous philanthropists, leading and donating to causes supporting underprivileged children, education and the arts.

“We are extremely pleased to honor Russ Meyer in this way. He actually received multiple nominations for the WAC Trophy. As one of the nominations said, ‘There is no one in the history of Kansas aviation who has achieved as much for aviation and the community as has Russ Meyer.’ We know this is one of many awards Russ has received during his extraordinary career, but we’re still looking forward to an exciting and enjoyable event in January when he is officially presented with this recognition from his many friends and neighbors in the Air Capital,” Franson added.

The Wichita Aero Club was established in 2008 to foster and promote interest in aviation, provide a forum focused on the industry’s issues and achievements and bring together those with a passion for flight in an environment that expands and enhances professional relationships and furthers cooperation and understanding.

The WAC Trophy is awarded annually to a living person, group, or existing organization with a strong relationship to the greater Wichita area, who have distinguished him, her or themselves in the field of aviation or aerospace within the most recent calendar year or during a cumulative career of significant achievements and contributions.

For more information: 316-681-4491 or WichitaAeroClub.org

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