Ben Marcus is co-founder and Managing Partner of UP.Partners, the early-stage investor partnering with entrepreneurs building businesses enabling the future of multi-dimensional mobility.
Ben is also the co-founder and Chairman of AirMap, the world’s leading airspace management platform. AirMap leads the industry in delivering technology solutions globally for Unmanned Aircraft Traffic Management (UTM) to enable advanced aerial mobility operations at scale. Additionally, with his UP.Partners co-founder Cyrus Sigari, the two co-founded jetAVIVA, the world’s leading broker of business jets.
In late 2019, Ben and Cyrus launched a $200M USD venture investment fund focused towards the enablement and acceleration of this new industry called UP.Partners. UP.Partners accelerates and positively affects the movement of people and goods in all three dimensions by building a virtuous ecosystem. The unique community of sector-expert entrepreneurs, executives, corporates, and co-investors equals unparalleled access, the right decisions, and the best support and synergies between our portfolio companies and their founders.
Ben is an FAA-certified Airline Transport Pilot and Flight Instructor with more than 4,500 hours of flight experience in more than 100 types of airplanes, seaplanes, gliders, and helicopters.
Ben also serves on the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Aeronautics Research and Technology Roundtable. He is a graduate of Purdue University’s School of Aeronautics.
An aviator, entrepreneur, and investor, Cyrus Sigari has committed his life’s work to making flight more accessible for the betterment of humanity. Sigari is considered one of the world’s foremost experts on the rapidly advancing Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) and Electric Vertical Take Off and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft industries, which Morgan Stanley predicts will become a $1.4 trillion market by 2040.
Sigari is Co-founder and Managing Partner of UP.Partners, an early-stage venture firm investing in technology companies that are supporting a multi-dimensional future. He is an active investor and advisor to numerous AAM companies, co-founder of the UP Summits, and founder of TransportUP, the leading AAM related news and media company.
Sigari is also a global leader in the business of private aviation. As the Executive Chairman and co-founder of jetAVIVA, Sigari grew jetAVIVA to be one of the largest sellers of business jets in the world, with annual sales in excess of $400M USD.
Sigari has been flying for more than 27 years and piloting aircraft for thousands of hours. He is an instructor on 13 different jets, including the Boeing 747. He has owned dozens of aircraft, is a helicopter pilot and owner, a graduate of Purdue University’s Aerospace and Aeronautical Engineering program, an experienced acceptance test pilot, and formerly a nationally-ranked competitive aerobatic pilot.
Sigari is also an Ironman triathlete and self-admitted adventure junkie.
Dr. Jeff Sperring is CEO of Seattle Children’s. As CEO, he leads a world-class team of healthcare providers, researchers, and staff who are united by the mission to provide hope, care and cures to help every child live the healthiest and most fulfilling life possible.
A pediatrician and passionate advocate for improving child health worldwide through best-in-class care and breakthrough innovation, Dr. Sperring is guided by the belief that being a doctor is as much a matter of the heart as it is the mind. Since joining in 2015, Dr. Sperring has worked side-by-side with his amazing team to strengthen Seattle Children’s ability to deliver superior patient care, expand its clinical and research facilities, promote greater diversity, inclusivity and equity in health care, and advance new discoveries and treatments through ground-breaking research.
Dr. Sperring earned his medical degree from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and was a pediatric resident at the Naval Medical Center San Diego. After residency, he served for three years as a United States Navy Medical Corps officer in Twentynine Palms, California. Prior to joining Seattle Children’s, Dr. Sperring served as president and CEO of Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health, one of the largest children’s hospitals in the United States.
Massachusetts native Mark Hanson is changing lives one flight at a time.
After retiring in 2009, Mark began taking flying lessons to fulfill his lifelong dream of becoming a pilot. What started as a hobby quickly turned into a passion when Mark joined Patient Airlift Services, a nonprofit organization providing free air transportation to individuals requiring medical treatment who cannot afford to fly commercially. Personally, donating his time as the pilot and all transportation costs, Mark has flown more than 250 medical flights for PALS since 2011. Additionally, Mark has flown over 60 additional domestic and international missions for several volunteer pilot organizations that serve veterans’ needs, bone marrow transportation, special need children discovery flights, and rescue turtles. Mark’s donations are approaching $1M in value.
Mark has been graciously donating his time to support public benefit flying by serving for many years on the board of directors of organizations like Patient Airlift Services, Air Care Alliance and Above the Clouds (kids) as well as volunteering at events promoting volunteer pilot organizations nationally. Given an equally strong passion for pilot safety Mark has volunteered at EAA IMC Club events nationwide and regularly sponsored PALS Pilots and Friend dinners since 2013.
The NBA and the Boston Celtics recognized Mark’s contributions with a Hero Among us Award in 2017. The National Aeronautic Association and ACA recognized Mark’s contributions with the 2021 Distinguished Volunteer Pilot award.
Growing up in Oregon, Ray developed a love for flying at a young age. Even though he had never been in an airplane, Ray decided at 13 years of age that someday he was going to become a bush pilot in Alaska. He worked in a hobby shop throughout high school, building and flying model airplanes, which further fed his desire to learn to fly. Driving by a small glider port one day, he saw a Stearman sitting in the grass strip with a sign that read: “Rides $5”. Ray was hooked and started taking lessons during his senior year in high school, soloed, and became a private pilot in July 1975.
Ray signed up for the Air Force at the age of 17, a year before finishing high school. This guaranteed his choice of assignments (Alaska, of course) and, after graduation, he shipped out to Anchorage. While there, he completed his commercial, instrument, seaplane, multi-engine, flight instructor and ground instructor certificates. Upon discharge from the Air Force, Ray worked as a full-time flight instructor. He also spent two years as a center Air Traffic Controller for ARTCC, then flew DE Havilland Twin Otters for an airline. This led him to finally fulfill his dream to be an Alaskan Bush pilot, transporting people to remote Alaskan villages and providing fire support.
After the birth of his first son, Ray decided to utilize the electronics training he received in the Air Force to build his own business in Alaska providing Life Safety systems to schools and hospitals. He eventually moved to Chicago to become a district manager for the Rauland-Borg Corporation. This opened the door for Ray to create Lone Star Communications in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area in 1991. Today, Lone Star is considered one of Rauland’s largest and most respected Life Safety systems integrators in the United States.
Ray first joined Angel Flight South Central in June 2004. Most missions were flown in his F-90 King Air, including the first flight into Baton Rouge to initiate the relief effort following Hurricane Katrina. In 2010, Ray flew three missions to Haiti carrying medicine, medical equipment and doctors. As part of that effort, Ray used the King Air to ferry medical supplies and food from Santiago, Dominican Republic to several cities within Haiti, landing on unimproved surfaces in Les Cayes, Cap -Haitien and other cities using his Alaskan bush flying experience. Ray is aiming to fly his 300th mission in 2022.
Ray currently flies a Cessna Citation CJ3, but also enjoys time in his Robinson R-66 helicopter, Citabria, Wilga 35, Pitts Special and Fairchild PT23, that he occasionally displays at airshows. He holds an ATP with type ratings for C500, C510 and C525 aircraft and is also rated in Gliders and Helicopters.
FUTURE OF FLIGHT AWARD
Zipline was founded to create the first logistics system that serves all humans equally. Our aim is to solve the world’s most urgent and complex access challenges. Leveraging expertise in robotics and autonomy, Zipline designs, manufactures and operates the world’s largest automated delivery system. Zipline serves tens of millions of people around the world and is making good on the promise of building an equitable and more resilient global supply chain. From powering Rwanda’s national blood delivery network and Ghana’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution, to providing on-demand home delivery for Walmart and enabling leading healthcare providers to bring care into the home in the United States, Zipline is transforming the way goods move. By transitioning to clean, electric, instant logistics, we can decarbonize delivery, decrease road congestion, and reduce fossil fuel consumption and air pollution, while providing equitable access for billions of people. The technology is complex but the idea is simple: a teleportation service that delivers what you need, when you need it. Zipline is inspiring people, governments, and businesses to imagine what is possible when goods can move as seamlessly as information.