Gary Kelley to receive 2015 AEA Lifetime Achievement Award during AEA Convention in Dallas, April 8

Award is the highest honor bestowed upon an AEA member

LEE'S SUMMIT, MISSOURI, Feb. 26, 2015 -- Gary Kelley will be presented with the 2015 Aircraft Electronics Association Lifetime Achievement Award, the highest honor bestowed upon an individual by the AEA's board of directors, during the opening session of the 58th annual AEA International Convention & Trade Show on Wednesday, April 8, at Marriott's Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center in Dallas, Texas.

Gary Kelley

Gary Kelley

Kelley will be recognized by the AEA board of directors for his countless hours of volunteerism for the association, including his service as a board member and his leadership on the AEA's Future Studies Report, a strategic plan developed in the mid-1990s.

Kelley retired from Garmin International in December 2011 as vice president of marketing, where he led Garmin's aviation, marine, outdoor fitness and automotive divisions. He joined Garmin in 1992 as director of marketing, during which time he oversaw the development of Garmin's global marketing, sales, support and advertising strategies in the early days of the company. He also served as director of Garmin Europe from 1993 to 2004.

Under his executive leadership, Garmin was named the AEA Associate Member of the Year on three occasions: 1994; 2000; and 2011.

From 1972-92, Kelley worked for the general aviation avionics division of Allied Signal/BendixKing, where he served as director of marketing administration.

In addition to his service on the AEA board of directors, he also served as a board member for the General Aviation Manufacturers Association and the National Business Aviation Association. 

"Gary Kelley was instrumental in the early formation of Garmin's sales and marketing efforts around the world, and he was a passionate leader for the general aviation industry as a whole," said Paula Derks, AEA president. "He helped develop Garmin's aviation business segment, including the introduction of products such as the GNS 430 and 530, and the G1000 integrated cockpit system. A true industry visionary, he also helped bring Garmin avionics into larger, Part 25 aircraft. This award is truly deserved, and on behalf of the AEA board of directors, I offer my heartfelt thanks for his many years of service to the AEA and the general aviation electronics industry."

Kelley earned a bachelor's degree in business administration from Baker University. He also owns a commercial pilot license, and instrument and flight instructor ratings. A lifelong resident of the Kansas City area, he and his wife, Pamela, have three children: Sean, Shannon and Brian. 

To see a complete history of previous AEA Lifetime Achievement Award recipients, click here.


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Founded in 1957, the Aircraft Electronics Association represents nearly 1,300 member companies in more than 40 countries, including approved maintenance organizations specializing in maintenance, repair and installation of aircraft electronics systems in general aviation aircraft. The AEA membership also includes manufacturers of aircraft electronics equipment, instrument repair facilities, instrument manufacturers, airframe manufacturers, test equipment manufacturers, major distributors, engineers and educational institutions.