Producer, Aspen chief among 'Living Legends' honorees

January 24, 2013

living legends event A star-studded crowd celebrated aviation achievement at the Living Legends of Aviation awards Jan. 18. Larry Grace photo, courtesy Kiddie Hawk Air Academy.

A pilot turned Hollywood star and producer, David Ellison, 30, was recognized for inspiring the next generation of aviators Jan. 18 as the nonprofit Kiddie Hawk Air Academy hosted the tenth annual Living Legends of Aviation awards in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Jan. 18.

Ellison was just 20 when he flew with the Experimental Aircraft Association “Stars of Tomorrow” aerobatic team at EAA AirVenture, has gone on to act in film, and founded a film production company, raising $350 million in 2010 to co-finance and co-produce movies with Paramount Pictures. He was named to Variety’s “Dealmaker” list for 2010, and the Forbes 30 under 30 list in 2011.

living legends honorees From left, Chesley Sullenberger, Harrison Ford, and Kurt Russel at the Living Legends of Aviation gala in Beverly Hills. Larry Grace photo, courtesy Kiddie Hawk Air Academy.

A who’s who of aviators and actors (or both, in the cases of Harrison Ford, John Travolta, and Kurt Russell) gathered at the Beverly Hilton Hotel to pay tribute to the contributions made by a select group. Also among the honorees, Aspen Avionics CEO John Uczekaj accepted the Aviation Entrepreneur of the Year award, joining the ranks of Eclipse Aviation founder Vern Raburn; Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Galactic; and Elon Musk, founder of Tesla Motors and SpaceX.

“This award came as a complete surprise to me,” Uczekaj said in a news release. “The general aviation industry has long been known for its talented and dedicated people so I am deeply humbled to be honored amongst so many great names in aviation.”

New members of the Living Legends of Aviation honored Jan. 18 include former EAA chairman Tom Poberezny.

Kiddie Hawk Air Academy is an education program that brings motion “flight simulators” to grades schools, giving children ages 4 to 9 a first taste of flying—if only a couple of feet off the ground. The goal is to light the “spark” and inspire a lifelong love of aviation.