BCA's Fabulous Four Bring Home Two Neal Awards

Jesse H. Neal Awards logo

Please consider what follows confirmation of your good judgment in choosing sound operational advice, but there’s more than a little pride on our part as well.

At BCA, our primary role is delivering expert advice and insight to help readers conduct business aviation operations safely, efficiently and to the enhancement of the organizations and people who employ them. Beyond that, the information must be presented in a logical and appealing way to help in its comprehension and application. Of course, the subjects must be relevant and timely, too.

While every person on our masthead helps advance our work, those in the fore are our writers. They serve as our line pilots, investigators, technocrats, instructors, counselors and field representatives. They’re the people who recognize an informational need, a hard-learned lesson worth sharing, a technology deserving of explanation and dissemination. For the most part, my job is to say, “Yes, write that.”

There is nothing casual about writing for BCA. And once begun, our writers tend to stay for decades. Which is why their names become so familiar — Ross Detwiler, Kent Jackson, Dick Aarons and the late, great Torch Lewis, John Wiley and Archie Trammel, among the many.

But for this go-round, I’m focusing on just four — James Albright, David Esler, Fred George and Patrick Veillette — for good cause.

A number of organizations bestow awards upon journalists for excelling at their craft and BCAers have been honored and humbled to receive more than a few over the years. Almost all were presented by aerospace concerns, and thus judged by av professionals intimately familiar with the material presented, its import and accuracy.

But there’s also Connectiv, an association that monitors business journalism across all industries — banking, healthcare, legal, architecture, insurance, retail, restaurants, fashion, engineering, real estate, farming, aerospace and on and on. For the past 65 years it has celebrated the best of the best in multiple categories, from art direction, to news coverage, to podcasts, presenting the winners with its Jesse H. Neal Awards, often described as the Pulitzers of U.S. business media. This year the judges received more than 500 submissions.

On April 17, the Aviation Week Network was honored with three Neals. One went to Aviation Week & Space Technology for its superb coverage of Boeing’s 737 MAX calamity. The other two — for Best Instructional Content and for Best Technical Content — went to BCA for stories researched and written by Messrs. Albright, Esler, George and Veillette — a repeat performance for the first three who won a Neal in 2016.

While their bylines are familiar, to appreciate why these writers are so good at what they do, it’s instructive to know from whence they came.

James Albright earned an engineering degree at Purdue University before joining the U.S. Air Force where he flew KC-135s, E-4Bs (Boeing 747) and C-20s (Gulfstream III). An instructor, he also headed the service’s first combat-rated VIP squadron and after 20 years, retired as a lieutenant colonel. An ATP, since turning civilian, he has flown the CL-604, GIV, GV and G450, and heads a flight department now operating a G500. His website, www.code7700.com, is highly regarded among aviation professionals of all stripes.

David Esler began filing stories for a local paper while a freshman at Wilkes University in Pennsylvania and save for a three-year stint as a U.S. Army officer, he’s been writing professionally ever since. This is his 27th year with BCA. A commercial pilot with multiengine and instrument ratings, he earlier applied his aviation and writing skills at the Sierra Academy of Aeronautics in Oakland, California. A not-so-secret passion is backpacking in the Grand Canyon.

Fred George graduated from the University of California at Los Angeles and headed cross country for flight training at NAS Pensacola. Presently, he was sent to the fleet as an F-4 Phantom II pilot. Once ashore for keeps, he instructed in Citations and flew Lear charters before launching a series of seminars for flight department managers. That work caught the attention of BCA where, save for a few years with me at Flying magazine, he’s remained. An ATP with six type ratings, he’s logged 7,700 hr. and doubles as the chief aircraft evaluation editor at Av Week.

Patrick Veillette is a U.S. Air Force Academy graduate with a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in engineering. During his 35-year military, firefighting and civilian flying career, he’s logged 20,000+ hr. in more than 240 aircraft types including jets, turboprops, balloons, sailplanes and helicopters. An ATP, CFI and designated pilot examiner, he holds three type ratings and is an active safety investigator. He lectures extensively and today is an adjunct instructor of aviation academics at Utah Valley University in Orem, Utah.

Expert, award-winning aviator-journalists. I salute them all and am proud and privileged to be their colleague. 

William Garvey

Bill was Editor-in-Chief of Business & Commercial Aviation from 2000 to 2020. During his stewardship, the monthly magazine received scores of awards for editorial excellence.