NBAA Presents Jared Isaacman with 2023 Meritorious Service to Aviation Award

The National Business Aviation Association honored Jared Isaacman with the 2023 Meritorious Service to Aviation Award during the Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition in Las Vegas.

Jared Isaacman Sian Proctor NBAA23

[Stephen Yeates]

The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) presented Jared Isaacman with the 2023 Meritorious Service to Aviation Award as part of the opening keynote at the NBAA Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (NBAA-BACE) in Las Vegas on Tuesday. An entrepreneur and pilot, Isaacman led the first all-civilian orbital spaceflight mission, called Inspiration4, in September 2021.

At age 16, Isaacman founded payment processing company Shift4, which processes more than 200 billion annually. He went on to co-found the Black Diamond Jet Team, flying in airshows in an Aero L-39, and Draken International, a company that provides tactical fighter aircraft and operational readiness training on contract for military and defense customers. In addition, he set a record circumnavigating the globe in his Cessna Citation Mustang in 2009—a trip that raised funds for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Inspiration4 also included a fundraising component, bringing in over $250 million for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

“Whether it’s starting his first business at 16, dazzling airshow crowds, flying higher in orbit than even the Hubble Space Telescope or championing humanitarian causes, Jared Isaacman has committed his life to reaching the highest pinnacles of human achievement and exploration,” said NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen. “We are pleased to present Jared with our Meritorious Service to Aviation Award. His endless aspiration and commitment to inspiration and service truly exemplify the high standards of this prestigious honor.”

Following the presentation, Isaacman was interviewed by fellow Inspiration4 crew member Sian Proctor. He spoke of his lifelong fascination with aviation, including building his first computer as a child so he could play combat flight simulator Falcon 3.0 and search for meaningful challenges both on the ground and above it.

Isaacman has organized three additional flights—called the Polaris program—with SpaceX, aiming to return to space as commander of the Polaris Dawn mission. Polaris Dawn, which is tentatively planned for the first quarter of 2024, is expected to include the first extravehicular activity (EVA/spacewalk) by a private civilian. The third Polaris flight is intended to be the first crewed flight of SpaceX’s Starship.

Kate O’Connor is a private pilot, certificated aircraft dispatcher, and graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Get the latest FLYING stories delivered directly to your inbox

Subscribe to our newsletter