Two-time Daytona 500 winner and longtime general aviation user Dale Earnhardt Jr. will serve as a keynote speaker on the first day of the National Business Aviation Association's 2022 Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition.
Earnhardt's full-time Nascar career yielded 26 career victories, during which he was recognized a record-setting 15 consecutive times as Nascar's Most Popular Driver. After winning two Nascar Xfinity Series titles in 1998 and 1999, Earnhardt became the only third-generation Nascar champion.
Earnhardt has traveled by private aircraft for many years. In August 2019, he was aboard a Cessna Citation that rolled off the end of a runway at Elizabethton Municipal Airport in Tennessee and caught fire. All passengers, including his wife, daughter, dog, and the two pilots, survived.
After the crash, in February 2020, Earnhardt spoke openly about minimizing risks when flying. "It will never, ever be the same again. Something you will never be able to forget and never block out no matter how many flights you take," Earnhardt said at a press conference prior to the Daytona 500. "For me to be able to get back in there and go and do and travel like I want, the only way I can do it really was to get into the details."
Part of this journey returning to flight was diving deep into learning about the systems and decisions related to the airplane. By educating himself on takeoffs and landings, weather, and more, he's become more confident in each flight.
"I've learned so much in such a short period of time. It's kind of empowered me and given me more confidence in what we're doing and that we are safe and that I am going to be safe," Earnhardt said. "I don't want to just quit flying; I don't want to just quit getting into an airplane. I need to get over that fear and work hard to get through it."
The Nascar legend's keynote address at the NBAA convention will focus on this near-tragic experience and the lessons he learned from it.
The NBAA convention will be held October 18 through 20 at the Orange County Convention Center and Orlando Executive Airport. More information about the exhibitors, program schedule, and registration for the event can be found on the NBAA website. Keynote speakers for Day Two of the convention will be announced in the coming weeks.