Tom Perry, the face of Cessna Aircraft in Europe for three decades, is this year’s recipient of the British Business and General Aviation Association’s prestigious Michael Wheatley Award for Outstanding Services to the general aviation industry.  BBGA Chair Aoife O’Sullivan presented him with the accolade at the Association’s annual conference and AGM on 2 March at London’s Leonardo Hotel, St Paul’s.

Tom has witnessed many peaks and troughs of our industry, she noted, but during his illustrious career he sold over 1,000 aircraft into Europe. 

‘Everyone who has ever dealt with Tom will agree that his integrity, professionalism, and remarkable knowledge made a massive contribution to Cessna’s standing as a trusted OEM on this side of the Atlantic.’’ said Ashley Namihas, Textron Aviation Regional Sales Director, accepting the award on Tom’s behalf.  From the early 1990’s to his retirement last October, Tom Perry was instrumental in helping Cessna and parent Textron Aviation become a leading manufacturer of light jets, turboprops and piston aircraft in Europe.

Tom studied aeronautical engineering at Bristol University where he was also a member of the University Air Squadron – RAF VR.  He joined Cessna/Textron Aviation in September 1992 and helped with the 2013 acquisition of Hawker Beechcraft and the formation of Textron Aviation.  After becoming the Vice President of European Sales in 2012, he built a team of 20 as the company moved away from third party representatives towards direct sales.  Testimony to his popularity his original team remain as a united sales force under Tom’s successor Duncan van de Velde.

“Tom has been a terrific champion of BBGA.  His legacy continues with his team continuing to fly our flag and we thank him for his contribution with this year’s award,’ said BBGA Chair Aoife O’Sullivan.  On a personal note Tom has been an absolute pleasure to work with over many years, a trusted and universally respected professional. We will all miss Tom’s great friendship and wicked sense of fun. A stand-out memory was finding myself in a terrifying Formula 3000 race when I thought Tom had invited me along to watch from the sidelines. He had the grace even then to overlook our very different positions on the leaderboard. Sort of.”

During his tenure Tom made many industry friends.  His departure from Textron Aviation was, according to colleagues, a long and emotional goodbye.

“The whole team at Textron Aviation are so pleased Tom has been honoured with the Michael Wheatley award. Tom has been an inspirational leader, an incredible mentor and most importantly, a great friend. We are forever grateful for the profound impact he has had on us individually and as a company we wish him the most enjoyable of retirements.”

Ashley Namihas, Textron Aviation Regional Sales Director

Tom Perry and a number of notable “others” (possibly infamous would be a better word!) share the same background as “BAe (British Aerospace) boys” from the mid-1980’s. This part of British aviation talent –  recruited in the mid to late 1980’s  – has grown and matured into the major business jet OEM’s around the world and has occupied many senior positions in those companies such as Cessna, Gulfstream, Bombardier and Embraer.

I have known Tom for the last 30 or so years, since he first started selling new Citations in the UK and Scandinavia in the mid 1990’s. In this role Tom honed his (highly successful) capabilities as an unflappable aviation sales professional with a high level of personal integrity and a very genial and charming personality. All this when combined with a strong “shock” of white hair, marked him out as one of today’s best known & respected faces of European business aviation.”

Trevor Esling, Director, Vulcan Aviation

“In an industry that certainly has the odd shark or charlatan, there are fortunately a few of the old guard that set the benchmark for how aircraft sales ought to be. Tom always set that standard – the archetypal business aircraft salesperson, that others aspired to be.   I can’t ever remember him not having that grey-haired image of smooth, elder wisdom, exuding a cool, calm aura of an individual people would just be so familiar with.  Congratulations for this award and the very best for the future.” James Dillon Godfray, Head of Business Development, London Oxford Airport

“On behalf of the #DreamTeam, we extend our heartfelt gratitude to Tom for his unwavering commitment and leadership in the industry. We have had the privilege of working with Tom since 2007.  His legacy of hard work and dedication will continue to inspire us. As a proper English gentleman, Tom’s sense of humour made our partner events unforgettable. It was an honour to work with him. He was always a respected member at all branch meetings.  As one of the most recognisable faces in business aviation, Tom’s professionalism and dedication to excellence set an example for us to follow daily. Working with him all these years has been a pleasure, and we wish him all the best as he embarks on a well-deserved retirement. Congratulations on this award and a career filled with remarkable achievements. We will miss your guidance, support, and positive attitude.”  Bernhard Fragner, CEO, GlobeAir

“Tom has been instrumental in supporting me and our company, specifically with our Cessna 525 Citation fleet which we recently celebrated 20 years of continuous operations with. His knowledge of the product, commitment to providing great service have been invaluable to us.  This award is a fantastic recognition of the contribution Tom made not only to Cessna, but to Business Aviation. We wish him the very best in his retirement.” George McFarlane, Chairman, Air Charter Scotland Ltd

Tom Perry

About Michael Wheatley

Michael Wheatley held a leading role in the support advisory services to the UK Police and ambulance authorities and leading financial institutions.  He died in 2006 and BBGA created the award in his name.  Recent previous recipients include Marwan Khalek, Patrick Margetson-Rushmore, Tim Scorer, Penny Stephens, Phil Lammiman, Brian Humphries and Andrew Walters.

About BBGA

BBGA is the UK’s national trade body representing business and general aviation.  Formerly known as GAMTA and founded in 1970, its member companies span all facets of the business aviation sector.  BBGA represents nearly 200 companies, including airports, corporate flight departments, operators, aviation services organisations and aircraft manufacturers.  In a partnership with EBAA, all members of BBGA enjoy dual membership of both associations.  Similarly, any UK based organisation seeking to join EBAA can do so via BBGA.  

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