Meridian Exhibits at Van Nuys Regional Forum

The Meridian Team at the Van Nuys Regional Forum. (l to r): Carlos Rodriguez, Kirk Stephen, Mike Moore, MaKayla Hambek, Tammy Vinas, Lindsay Berkel, and Anthony Banome.

The Meridian Team at the Van Nuys Regional Forum. (l to r): Carlos Rodriguez, Kirk Stephen, Mike Moore, MaKayla Hambek, Tammy Vinas, Lindsay Berkel, and Anthony Banome.

Meridian, the award-winning private aviation company based at Teterboro Airport, was getting the word out last week at the NBAA Regional Forum in Van Nuys about its new facility in Hayward, CA, just 350 miles up the road. It was an important event for Meridian to communicate its future plans for the region because the new FBO and hangar facility at Hayward Executive Airport (HWD) is expected to be open for business this fall. For the first time, the company will have FBOs on both coasts. Seven representatives were there to help deliver the message from various business units, including Air Charter, Aircraft Management, Customer Service, Fuel Sales, and Marketing.

The Forum, held on Thursday, June 9, set a new record for number of attendees and indoor exhibitors for the venue, as about 2,000 people came out to hear from industry officials about the latest business aviation news, meet with the 145 exhibitors on a sold-out exhibit floor and have a look at the 21 aircraft and five vehicles on a sold-out static display. Historic Van Nuys Airport (VNY) contributes about $1.3 billion to the local economy, said Jeffery Daar, a commissioner for Los Angeles World Airports, which oversees VNY.

NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen took the opportunity to update attendees on the FAA reauthorization debate underway in Congress. The current funding extension for the FAA expires on July 15. In April, the Senate overwhelmingly passed H.R.636, with strong bipartisan support. The bill, Bolen noted, addresses many key issues ranging from streamlining the certification process to security issues, to the use of unmanned aircraft systems. However, Bolen continued, the Senate bill does not include a “dangerous” proposal to privatize the Air Traffic Control (ATC) system, fund it with user fees and have it overseen by an airline-centric board of directors – a proposal contained in the House version of the legislation, Bolen said. Read more about NBAA’s support for H.R.636.

“It remains vital that the nation’s airports and airspace continue to function in the public interest, rather than at the behest of a private entity,” Bolen concluded. “We want the U.S. to remain the world leader in aviation five, 10 and 25 years from now, without going down the risky path of turning over the air traffic system over to a combination of self-interested parties.

Forum attendees also heard from Jess Romo, VNY manager, and Glen Martin, FAA regional administrator of the Western-Pacific region, during the opening session. Following that, three education sessions were offered. A session entitled, “A Buyer’s Guide to a Successful Aircraft Transactions” was presented by Stephen Hofer, Aerlex Law Group; “Creating Public-Private Partnerships at Business Aviation Airports” was presented by Curt Castagna, Van Nuys Airport Association and; Sonnie Bates and Terry Yeomans from the International Business Aviation Council conducted a session on the International Standard for Business Aircraft Operations and the International Standard for Business Aircraft Handling.

The next NBAA Regional Forum will be held on Thursday, September 15 at Westchester County Airport (HPN) in White Plains, NY.

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Meridian Mourns the Loss of its Founder, J. Kenneth Forester

 J. Kenneth Forester during his service in the US Army Air Force.

J. Kenneth Forester during his service in the US Army Air Force.

Meridian, the award-winning private aviation company based at Teterboro Airport, regrets to announce the loss of its founder and aviation pioneer, J. Kenneth Forester. Mr. Forester died suddenly on Wednesday, June 1, 2016 at the age of 94.

Known among his Meridian colleagues as ‘Ken Sr.’ to distinguish him from his son of the same name, Mr. Forester had an illustrious career in aviation. It all began in December 1941 when he joined the US Army Air Corps after the attack on Pearl Harbor. The following year, Forester earned his private pilot’s license at the age of 21. By 1943, his military training had led him to become an engineering test pilot for the US Army Air Force, the predecessor of today’s US Air Force. From 1943 to 1946, he was flying fighters, bombers and transport aircraft. He flew the nation’s first jet, the Bell Airacomet P-59, and the first operational jet fighter, the Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star.

Forester attained a mechanic’s license while in the military and, after discharge in 1946, founded Mallard Air Service at Teterboro Airport. Mallard was a distributor for the Republic Seabee and the North American Navion and was a maintenance base and charter operator. Mallard later converted C-47s from military to civilian aircraft. Ken Sr. left Mallard in 1951 to manage a wire machinery plant in Paterson, NJ and work part time selling and maintaining Navions at Teterboro Airport. He once flew a Navion under the George Washington Bridge in bad weather. In 1958, he was offered a location on the west side of the airport and started a new business that he called General Aviation Company.

His son, Ken, a graduate of the US Air Force Academy and former F-102 pilot, took over full time management of the company in 1974. In 1986, the company became a Million Air franchise. In 2006, the company returned to being independently owned and operated, and rebranded itself under its current name of Meridian.

In 2002, the Federal Aviation Administration presented Ken Sr. with the Charles Taylor Master Mechanic award. Named after Charles Taylor, a mechanic for the Wright Brothers airplane, the award recognizes aviation maintenance personnel who have at least 50 years of experience in the industry. In 2008, he was inducted into the New Jersey Aviation Hall of Fame during the organization’s 35th annual induction dinner.

J. Kenneth Forester was a beloved husband for 67 years to the late Annabelle H. (nee Hewitt) and father of Ken and his wife Susan, Gary and his wife Lynne, Lynn and her husband Evelyn, David and his wife Mary, and grandfather to thirteen grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. He will be missed by family, friends, and colleagues alike.

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Meridian Exhibits at EBACE2016

The Meridian Team at EBACE2016 in Geneva, Switzerland.  (l to r): Bob Platten, MaKayla Hambek, John Frangipani, Chris Battaglia, Mike Moore, Anthony Banome, and Kirk Stephen.

The Meridian Team at EBACE2016 in Geneva, Switzerland. (l to r): Bob Platten, MaKayla Hambek, John Frangipani, Chris Battaglia, Mike Moore, Anthony Banome, and Kirk Stephen.

Last week, Meridian sent a team of associates to Geneva, Switzerland, to represent the company at the European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (EBACE2016). EBACE is the largest annual business aviation event in Europe, and is jointly hosted by the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) and the European Business Aviation Association (EBAA). As in previous years, this industry event was held at the Palexpo Convention Center from May 24 – 26, 2016. The convention center is conveniently located at Geneva Airport (GVA), which uniquely offers attendees the ability to visit exhibitor booths and the static display in one location.

Organizers were pleased with the turnout of exhibitors and attendees, and the show continues to demonstrate its place as Europe’s foremost business aviation event. “This year’s show was a terrific success, characterized by a full exhibit floor, with lots of business getting done,” noted EBAA CEO Fabio Gamba. “It’s an affirmation that EBACE remains Europe’s most important industry event.”

EBAA President Brian Humphries agreed. “We’re very pleased with the level of enthusiasm we’ve seen this year,” he said. “In addition to the busy show floor and sold-out aircraft static display, our seminars and education sessions were well attended, and participants were very engaged with presenters and one another.”

NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen added: “EBACE exhibitors and attendees repeatedly told us this week that the show continues to be a must-attend on the industry calendar. Additionally, EBACE once again highlighted the size and significance of business aviation in Europe, and around the world.”

Below are several statistics highlighting the success of this year’s show:

1. EBACE2016 featured more than 450 exhibitors, representing over 40 countries.

2. The static display of aircraft featured 60 aircraft – some were new to the event, or made their world debut at EBACE. The footprint for the show was the largest to date.

3. EBACE2016 attendees came from more than 100 countries.

4. More than 400 journalists from all over the world were in attendance.

5. The show’s Opening General Session lineup was among the strongest ever, featuring leaders from government and industry. Keynote speakers included former Foreign Minister of France and co-founder of Doctors Without Borders, Dr. Bernard Kouchner; Executive Director of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), Patrick Ky, and; Channel IT Group founder and CEO Bassim Haidar, whose company provides telecommunications and electricity in 23 countries in Asia, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East. Haidar has extensively used business aviation to help his company be more flexible, efficient and successful.

6. The event included two day-long seminars – one related to aircraft transactions, the other on business aviation safety – as well as a host of education sessions covering important industry topics and trends. The show’s popular “Inspiration Zone” had sessions on timely topics, including considerations for business aviation operations in parts of the world affected by the Zika virus.

“By every measure, EBACE2016 was a great success, and we are delighted with the support we’ve received from exhibitors and attendees,” Gamba concluded. “We look forward to welcoming everyone back to Geneva for EBACE2017.” Next year, the show will take place from May 22 – 24, 2017.

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