Awardees and Presenters

Bill Ayer

Bill Ayer is the retired chairman and chief executive officer of Alaska Air Group, the parent company of Alaska Airlines and its sister carrier, Horizon Air. Ayer served as Chief Executive Officer of Alaska Air Group and its subsidiaries from 2002 to 2012, and chairman from 2003 through 2013.

A veteran of more than three decades in aviation, Ayer began his career with Piper Aircraft Company, and was the founder of Air Olympia, a small commuter airline in Washington State. He joined Horizon Air in 1982 where he held a variety of marketing and operations positions. He joined Alaska Airlines in 1995 as vice president of marketing and planning, and subsequently held the posts of senior vice president; chief operating officer; and president.

Ayer serves on the Honeywell Board of Directors, and chairs the Board of Trustees at the Museum of Flight. Ayer is a member of the FAA’s Management Advisory Council, is the immediate past chair of FAA’s NextGen Advisory Committee, and serves on the National Business Aviation Association Board, and the AOPA Board of Visitors. A graduate of Stanford University with a bachelor’s degree in economics, he earned a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Washington.

Ayer owns a Piper Malibu, and holds airline transport and flight instructor certificates with over 4,500 hours of flight time. He and his wife, Pam, are residents of Bellevue, Washington, and have one daughter, Elizabeth.

He served as Chair of the Board of Regents for 2015-16.

  • Appointed by Governor Christine Gregoire from January 17, 2012 to September 30, 2016
  • Confirmed by Senate on March 7, 2012
  • Reappointed by Governor Jay Inslee from October 1, 2016 to September 30, 2022
  • Awaiting Senate confirmation

AFW involvement:
Bill has been a volunteer pilot with Angel Flight West since 1993 and has donated and flown more than 50 missions. He served on AFW’s board of Directors from 2000 to 2010 and currently volunteers as an executive coach for AFW’s Executive Director. Bill played an instrumental role during the merger between fellow volunteer pilot organization AirlifeLine and Angel Flight West and furthered the partnership between Alaska Airlines and Angel Flight West to better serve Alaska Airline communities in need of access to healthcare.

Dale Klapmeier

Dale Klapmeier is Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Cirrus Aircraft. In 1984, Along with his brother Alan, Dale founded Cirrus in a barn on their parents’ rural farmland near Baraboo, Wisconsin. Their first design was the homebuilt VK-30 aircraft, which they introduced at the 1987 EAA Convention in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

From the brothers’ experience building and marketing the VK-30, they decided that safety and ease-of-operation would be at the forefront of all their future designs. Dale’s goal was to create a certified aircraft that his wife would feel comfortable flying in. Since then, Cirrus has revolutionized the general aviation industry with the use of composite materials, fully intergraded glass-panel cockpits, and whole-airframe ballistic parachute systems, a standard device on Cirrus aircraft that has saved nearly 150 lives to date.

Under the leadership of Dale and his team, Cirrus has been the largest producer of piston aircraft since 2013, delivering over 6,800 SR-series aircraft in 18 years of production. Today the SR22 remains the world’s best-selling GA airplane for the 15th year running. In 2016, Dale’s team completed the certification process for the first single-engine personal jet: the Vision SF50. With close to 600 orders from around the world, Cirrus is changing personal transportation once again. Dale has helped the company continue to expand beyond their Duluth, MN and Grand Forks, ND facilities, opening a new customer delivery center in Knoxville, TN.

In addition to numerous aviation industry and entrepreneurial awards, Dale and Alan were formally inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 2014 and were ranked the 17th most influential figures in aviation history by Flying Magazine. In 2015, Dale became enshrined in the Minnesota Business Hall of Fame.

Passionate about expanding all forms of aviation learning, Dale has served on several boards and programs, including EAA’s Young Eagles Gathering of Eagles program, the Red Tail Project, the founding board of the Scott D. Anderson Leadership Foundation, and NASA’s Aeronautics Research & Technology Roundtable, chairing its GA subcommittee. He is currently the founding Chairman of the STEM organization AirSpace Minnesota. Dale holds Bachelor of Science degrees in Economics and Business Administration from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and has been flying since the age of 15, accumulating 6,000 hours of flight time in his career.

AFW involvement:
Dale first became involved with Angel Flight West and the Endeavor Awards in 2015. Recognizing that the “Cirrus Life” is more than just a hobby, Dale created a milieu that represents a whole new lifestyle filled with freedoms, choices and responsibilities, including flying for charitable purposes. Thanks to Cirrus’ commitment to giving back, the largest percentage of new volunteer pilots fly a Cirrus. And the Cirrus Aircraft partner companies and customers have donated more than $100,000 in operating support for AFW, enabling over 400 donated flights.

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