The award is presented each year to a volunteer who best exemplifies Gordon Ellis’ spirit of selfless effort at the Cessna 150-152 Fly-In in Iowa.
The Cessna 150-152 Fly-In Foundation is a nonprofit organization formed in 2009 from members of the the Cessna 150-152 Club to run the annual Fly-In event that takes place at the Clinton, Iowa, airport.
McKenzie, an associate in Arnstein & Lehr’s Tax and Aviation practice groups, aided the foundation in getting recognized as a 501(c)(3) organization by the IRS, drafting the by-laws, and steering the board members and officers in the various legal issues of running a non-profit.
“All this he did without request for favor or recognition. No one had to ask him to do it. When talk of a formal organization first came up he simply volunteered his skills to the novice board,” said Kirk Wennerstrom, president of the Cessna 150-152 Fly-In Foundation. “It was quickly recognized how important his efforts would be. And he did it in the same spirit as Gordon Ellis, simply to ensure the success of the fly-in, an event that is almost as much a ‘family gathering’ as it is a challenging and educational event.”
In 2000, pilots and owners of Cessna 150 and 152 began gathering in Clinton for an informal fly-in event. Gordon Ellis, pilot and owner of a Cessna 150, was always the first to arrive, usually days before. He would pitch in wherever needed to help set up for the event. During the fly-in he was usually the first to greet arriving aircraft, directing them to parking and welcoming the pilots. In addition he anonymously donated many of the prizes that are awarded on the final day of the event. Gordon never sought recognition and actively shunned any attempts to publicly thank him for his efforts. In 2010 the foundation created the “Gordon Ellis Award” in his honor.
Today the fly-in attracts more than 100 Cessna 150s and 152s. Attendees come from across the world to hear educational seminars and test their flying skills.