Kenneth C. Ricci


Kenneth C. Ricci

Kenneth C. “Kenn” Ricci is an American aviation entrepreneur and the Principal of Directional Aviation Capital, which owns or invests in various aviation enterprises including Flexjet, where he also serves as Chairman.

Kenn began his aviation career as an Air Force ROTC cadet at the University of Notre Dame and started his first company, Corporate Wings, in 1980. His love of aviation had him founding, acquiring or financing a broad range of aviation companies and ideas over his career. He has assembled one of the largest groups of private aviation companies which together account for over $4.0 billion of revenue, operate over 300 aircraft and employ over 5,000 individuals.

Kenn was honored as an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2000 and has been named one of the most influential people in aviation by Aviation International News. In 2005, Kenn led the restructuring of the Mercury Air Centers, a $200 million company operating aircraft support facilities at 24 different airports. He sold the company to Macquarie Infrastructure Trust in 2007 in a deal valued at $615 million. In 2010, Kenn received the Harvard Business School’s Dively Entrepreneurship Award. In 2011, Kenn was the youngest recipient of the prestigious William A. “Bill” Ong Memorial Award for extraordinary achievement and extended meritorious service to the general aviation industry.

Kenn is the founder of Nextant Aerospace, the innovator of Aircraft Remanufacturing. In 2015, Kenn received the Aviation Week Laureate Award, a benchmark of industry excellence, recognizing his work in the development of Nextant Aerospace.

In 2016, Kenn received the Lifetime Aviation Entrepreneur Award from the Living Legends of Aviation. In 2019, he was inducted as a Living Legend of Aviation. The Living Legends of Aviation are admirable people of remarkable accomplishment in aviation including entrepreneurs, innovators, industry leaders, record breakers, astronauts and pilots.

An airline transport pilot with more than 6,000 hours of flight time and extensive international experience, he was Governor William Clinton’s pilot when he ran for President in 1992.

Kenn graduated from the University of Notre Dame and in 2018 created a groundbreaking giving structure called a Philanthropic Succession Partnership to donate $100 million to the university, the single largest unrestricted, guaranteed gift ever committed. Kenn also graduated from the Cleveland Marshall School of Law, where he was named a Distinguished Alumni in 2016 and selected for admission to their Alumni Hall of Fame in 2018.

Kenn serves on the Board of Trustees for the University of Notre Dame, the Smithsonian and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

In 2018, Mr. Ricci was named one of Town & Country Magazine’s top 50 Philanthropists for his charitable work. His other philanthropic causes include Able Flight, which provides people with disabilities a way to challenge themselves through flight and aviation career training. In 2014, Kenn was honored by the Northeast Ohio Chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation for championing research and treatment of the disease, which affects 30,000 children and adults in the United States.

Recognized as a leader and innovator in the private aviation industry, Mr. Ricci has been widely quoted in print, online and on broadcast television including The New York Times, Washington Post, Fox Business, Bloomberg TV, CNBC, Robb Report and Worth Magazine. Mr. Ricci’s management strategies have been featured in the Wall Street Journal and he is the Author of “Management by Trust”, a book featuring practical management techniques for building employee trust and success.

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