Yankee Air Museum
Ray Hunter, Chairman of the Board of Directors
Kevin Walsh, Executive Director
Contact: Dave Callanan Public Relations Committee
Phone: 734-483-4030 ext. 233
Conrad “Connie” Kalitta Enshrined in Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame Joins Prestigious Group of Aviation Luminaries
April 15, 2019—Legendary drag racer and air freight magnate Conrad “Connie” Kalitta was enshrined in the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on Saturday, April 13, 2019. Kalitta, of Belleville, received the high honors for his accomplishments and contributions to aviation in ceremonies at the Air Zoo, in Portage, Michigan. He is the sole owner of Kalitta Air based at historic Willow Run Airport.
The award was accepted by Corey Kalitta on behalf of his grandfather.
Yankee Air Museum wrote the application and it was submitted by six of its highly esteemed members who are also Hall-of-Famers, including Yankee Air Museum Board Chairman Ray Hunter. “Connie’s background and credentials as a pilot, innovator and businessman presented a very strong nomination,” said Hunter. “One need only to look around the Kalitta Air facilities at Willow Run and OscodaWurtsmith airports to know he is a titan of aviation.”
Connie Kalitta first learned to fly in the mid-1960s with Bud Dodge who ran a charter operation. By 1967, when he was 28 years of age, Connie had earned his multi-engine commercial rating and began his own highly specialized, on demand, cargo flights on board his Cessna 310. His client, Ford Motor Company, needed to keep production lines flowing and traditional air cargo haulers were not fast enough. Kalitta’s operations could deliver needed material in a matter of hours.
Kalitta grew his aviation business from American International Airways, Inc. to Kitty Hawk and ultimately into Kalitta Air, LLC in 2000. He is a self-made man and one of the truly rare people in the annals of aviation who has been able to take the art and science of flying and have it transcend personal pleasure to stratospheric entrepreneurial eminence. He is the consummate team builder and for all of his achievements, he is incredibly modest.
Kalitta’s biography is a body of work celebrated in “first ever” accomplishments, championships, records and corporate achievement. A man of few words, his story is best told by the countless loyal employees in the Kalitta family of businesses who have grown with him through decades of experience and hard work. His genius is his attention to detail, likening everything to a chain and always strengthening the weakest link. His leadership inspires this same focus and innovation in everyone on team Kalitta. In all things, he is a competitor and a winner.
Kalitta is a champion National Hot Rod Association top fuel racer and Lifetime Achievement Award recipient. He is also in the Michigan and national Motorsports Halls of Fame.
“We are incredibly fortunate to have an aviator of Connie’s prominence and competence in Michigan. We are proud to have him as our neighbor, indeed as a good friend, at historic Willow Run Airport,” concluded Hunter.
About the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame: Established in 1987, the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame is located inside the Air Zoo and is dedicated to preserving the history of outstanding air and space pioneers. The Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame recognizes and honors these men and women for their outstanding contributions and achievements to aviation and/or space. They had a vision and followed their dreams with determination and triumph. The MAHOF is committed to recognizing these enshrinees as role models, as they inspire today's youth to follow their own vision and achieve excellence, no matter what their field of choice.
For more info on MAHOF visit the www.airzoo.org website.
About the Yankee Air Museum: Established in 1981 the Yankee Air Museum is a non-profit 501 (c) (3) organization. The Yankee Air Museum dedicates itself to educating people through the history of U.S. Military aviation, technology and home front efforts while inspiring generations through personal experiences to instill pride in our national accomplishments. Yankee Air Museum, located at 47884 D Street, Belleville, Michigan on the grounds of historic Willow Run Airport, is open Tuesday-Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Sundays from 11:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. Visit www.yankeeairmuseum.org to discover more about us and how we are working to preserve local history with the www.SavetheBomberPlant.org campaign. For more information, call 734-483-4030.