Kenneth Ricci is a 40-year aviation industry veteran who today is a Principal of Directional Aviation Capital which owns various aviation enterprises including Flexjet, Sentient Jet, PrivateFly, Tuvoli, Nextant Aerospace, Stonebriar Commercial Finance, Reva Air Ambulance, Corporate Wings, Simcom and Constant Aviation.
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 $2.0 billion of revenue, operate over 150 aircraft and employee over 2,000 individuals.
Kenn was honored as an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of Year in 2000 and has been named one 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 and sold the Company to Macquarie Infrastructure Trust (MIC) 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 and development at Nextant Aerospace.
In 2016, Kenn then received the “Lifetime Aviation Entrepreneur Award” from the Living Legends of Aviation. In 2019, 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.
He is an airline transport pilot with extensive International experience and was Governor William Clinton’s pilot when he ran for President in 1992.
Kenn graduated from the University of Notre Dame and recently announced the first ever $100 million gift to the University. He also graduated from the Cleveland Marshall School of Law, where he was named as their distinguished alumni of the year in 2016 and named to their Alumni Hall of fame in 2018. Kenn serves on the Board of Trustees for the University of Notre Dame, the Smithsonian and University Hospitals.
In 2014, Kenn was honored by the Northeast Ohio Chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation for championing research and treatment of the disease, which effects 30,000 children and adults in the United States.
Kenn’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.