WICHITA, Kan. — The fifth annual Wichita Aero Club Trophy will be presented to former Learjet Public Relations Executive and co-founder of Sullivan Higdon & Sink Advertising Al Higdon at the club’s annual trophy gala Jan. 24, 2015.
Along with Jim Greenwood, who served with him in the Learjet PR office, Higdon can be credited with making “Learjet” virtually a generic term for business jets, and he helped to establish corporate aviation as a viable industry segment in its early days, club officials noted.
“Al Higdon’s contribution to business aviation can’t be overstated, nor can his exceptional abilities as a communicator, creative thinker, and a business and community leader,” noted Dave Franson, Wichita Aero Club President. “He has made extraordinary contributions in virtually every area of endeavor he pursued throughout a very distinguished career, and he has done so with exemplary grace and humility.”
In 1971, Al joined forces with longtime friend and fellow aviation-marketing expert, Wendell Sullivan. Their agency, which became Sullivan Higdon & Sink, worked with major aviation clients and continues to do so today – nearly two decades after Al’s retirement. Through the years, SHS clients have comprised a “who’s who” of aviation companies, including Learjet, Cessna, Rockwell Collins, AMR Combs, Signature Flight Support, XM Satellite Weather, Spirit AeroSystems, TECT Corporation, Curtiss-Wright Controls, Lycoming Engines and many more.
As a lifelong citizen of Wichita, Al also distinguished himself as a civic leader, entrepreneur, employer and educator. In addition to co-founding an internationally recognized marketing and advertising firm, he has generously given his time and expertise to countless organizations, including the Wichita Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition, the Wichita Convention and Visitors Bureau, Wichita State University, the American Red Cross, the Wichita Aero Club, and others.
“Awarding Al Higdon the Wichita Aero Club Trophy not only recognizes the value of his contributions but those made by every function in the aviation and aerospace value chain – from design to manufacturing to marketing to support,” noted Tom Bertels, Wichita Aero Club Founding Board Member and current Managing Partner at Sullivan Higdon & Sink. “Al’s selection says, ‘No matter what role a person plays, it’s important. You don’t necessarily need to be an executive at an OEM or an engineering guru to make a significant contribution to this important industry.’ There may be a more obvious choice for this award than an aviation advertising and PR guy, but I don’t think there’s a better one. I believe that recognizing a person who dedicated his entire career to help build a sustainable, viable market for business aviation products and services is an unquestionably good decision, and we’re extremely proud that the founder of this agency has been selected to receive the Wichita Aero Club Trophy.”
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 themselves in the field of aviation or aerospace within the most recent calendar year or during a cumulative career of significant achievement and contribution.