Previous Lifetime Achievement Award Winners

2013 Patrick Brannelly 
Patrick Brannelly started his career as junior paparazzo before taking up jobs in various creative agencies working in film, photography and design, mostly for advertising. In 1992 he joined Emirates where he revolutionised their inflight entertainment and moved through the ranks to be promoted to Vice President – Passenger Communications & Visual Services in 2002. Since then he was given an extra range of responsibilities and leadership of a team of over 100 staff. In addition to IFE&C, Patrick is responsible for Digital, Visual Services, Creative Services, Events and Merchandising. His current job title is Vice President: Corporate Communications, Product, Publishing, Digital & Events.
 
Patrick has served on the board twice, being the only member to fulfill 3 terms as president. Patrick joined the board for the first time in 1996 and was serving as president in 1999. Exactly 10 years later in 2009 he agreed to join the board again as Vice President and was then the main force in transforming the WAEA to APEX and expanding the membership base to include the entire passenger experience.
 
Patrick’s vision, enthusiasm and constant challenging of the status quo have been the driving force behind many of the developments in our industry. Since Patrick’s introduction of ICE it has become the IFE experience to which other airlines aspire and which has demanded all suppliers to think outside the box. 
 
Written by Christine Ringger, Manager, Inflight Entertainment, Swiss International Air Lines Ltd

 

2012 Leigh Mantle
In his industry, Leigh Mantle has seen it all; he’s earned the respect of his colleagues, and by bringing a lifetime of industry experience to this association, he sets the standard for dedication. Leigh has served as an APEX board member for three years. He chaired the TV Market Task Force for two successful years and served as a member of the Technology Committee. He exhibits every required quality and more for recipients of this high honor by committing to APEX and the advancement of the industry as a whole.

Early in his career, Leigh accepted a position at Maison Rouge recording studios, established by Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull and known for recording such groups as Abba and Richie Blackmore’s Rainbow. By 1982, he was promoted from head of the mobile recording studio to Chief Engineer at the company’s London headquarters. At Infl ight Studios, Leigh took a leading role, having served as Studio Manager and later Managing Director of IFP. He oversaw the studio’s expansion into video production and helped to establish the company’s technical facilities in Los Angeles, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and Dubai. As Technical Director, Leigh helped develop Infl ight Productions Group’s custom-made software used to manage the company’s stock control, studio bookings and invoicing. Through his vision, IFP became the fi rst CSP to provide full-digital media services, including integration and test and release. Additionally, Leigh consults other major industry players, including Panasonic and ARINC.


2011 Sue Pinfold
In life there are those who talk and there are those who do. Sue, without doubt, is the latter.

 

She served on the board for nine years, from 2000 to 2009, as both a director and then secretary of the association. Sue’s devotion to the association is legendary. Under her oversight the association completely reworked its bylaws, policies and procedures and the Avion Awards programs. Sue helped the WAEA (now known as APEX) transition through two management company changes, a feat one must experience to understand the time commitment needed to do so. Her passion for the industry has not decreased since she left the board as she was the driving force earlier this year to get the word out to our members about the potential cassette shortage following the tsunami in Japan.

Sue’s career began over 30 years ago as a tour operator. She started breathing IFE at Sony Transcom where she managed 43 accounts at one time. Now the Executive Vice President IFE at Spafax, she has played a vital role in the development and delivery of their IFE services since 1998 and has been a major contributor helping to grow the client base.

Sue’s knowledge and incredible memory make her an invaluable industry resource.


2010    Paul Margis
Paul Margis leads the firm that has become one of the most pre-eminent companies in the history of inflight entertainment. As Chief Executive Officer of Panasonic Avionics Corporation, he has consistently shown his support of and commitment to WAEA as evidenced by Panasonic’s participation and major sponsorship of association activities and events. Margis attended California State University of Long Beach, California, earning a degree in electrical engineering and completed UCLA’s Executive Program in management. He worked for Hughes Aircraft for several years before joining Matsushita Avionics (now Panasonic Avionics) in 1992 as Director, Advanced Systems Development. During his rapid rise at Panasonic, he has served as General Manager, Advanced Systems Engineering; Vice President, Development Engineering (leading the development of AVOD and the X-Series product line); and Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer. In 2005 he became President of Panasonic Avionics and in 2007 became the Chief Executive Officer.

During his career at Panasonic, Paul has provided leadership and, with his team, has facilitated innovations and enhancements that have revolutionized technological advancements in IFE.


2010    Joe Barber
Joe Barber has been a leader and pioneer in film, video, and digital recording and duplication for the IFE and entertainment industries. As a founding member of WAEA, he has been a consistent and strong supporter of the association since its inception. His career spans the entire history of inflight entertainment, and he, along with his company, Cine Magnetics, has championed the highest standards of quality and service, and coupled them with a can-do spirit and proven capabilities. Barber began his career with Cine Magnetics in 1968 after having worked at Pathe Laboratories for 12 yeaers. At Cine Mag, he first served as Quality Control Manager, then Laboratory Manager, and then in 1972 became President of the company. It’s in that position that he continues to serve today. Throughout the IFE industry’s progression, from 16mm and 8mm film in the ’60s and ’70s, the evolution into video from the late ’70s, as well as the digital revolution, Barber and his company pioneered and perfected many of the processes and programs required to implement those industry changes.

Barber’s professionalism, character, and special style make him a worthy recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award.


2009    Bob Kitson
Robert “Bob” Kitson was one of the most dedicated IFE professionals in his three decades of working for the giants of Bell & Howell and Trans Com. Together with previous Lifetime Achievement Award recipient John Landstrom, Kitson was a driving force behind the Trans Com Distributors Conferences in the 70s and 80s. For the first time, those meetings brought Trans Com’s clients and distributors together. Envied by competitors, the Distributor Conferences served as the catalyst for a 1979 Palm Springs Conference that evolved into WAEA (initially, the AEA). He, together with Landstrom, viewed the new organization not as competing, but as complimentary to IFE and put the full support of Trans Com behind the AEA, thereby playing a key role in establishing the new association.

Kitson traveled the world selling IFE to virtually every major carrier. As General Manager of Bell & Howell’s Airline Products Division he was responsible for the installation of Bell & Howell’s Astrocolor system on 60 American Airlines’ 707s. When he moved to Trans Com, he successfully marketed Trans Com’s 8mm film system, sophisticated audio systems, and their Betamax video system. Kitson stands as a very influential figure in the history of IFE and his experience and dedication deserve this highest recognition.

2009    Jeff Klein
Jeff Klein’s 40-plus year career has paralleled the evolution and growth of the inflight entertainment industry in which he has played a major role. His IFE career began in the 60’s when, employed at United Artists non-theatrical division in New York, he coordinated films with InFlight Motion Pictures. In the early 70’s he joined Bell & Howell’s Avicom division and serviced that pioneering company’s film distribution to airlines. Klein was a major participant and panelist in the 1979 original Palm Springs Conference that gave birth to WAEA, and he has continually supported the growth and development of the 30-year–old association. In an arena then dominated by the major studios, he founded IFE’s first independent distribution company, Jaguar Distribution in New York City in 1984.  He later moved Jaguar to Los Angeles in 1990. Jaguar stands today as one of the industry’s most successful independent content distribution companies.

Klein served for four years on the WAEA's Board of Directors and has sponsored, funded, and participated in countless WAEA projects and events. He is recognized by many in the association as an articulate and humorous host who has served as master of ceremonies for a number of WAEA gala banquets.

2009    Ron Stein
A founding member of AEA, Ron Stein remains as one of the few standing members who played a major role in the initial meeting 30 years ago. Pre-dating the AEA by well more than a decade, Stein’s company, Crest Digital supplied the 16mm film prints that pioneered the very first IFE projection systems and, later, progressed into 8mm film. Into the late 70s, Stein supervised the introduction and duplication of video and played a major role in a broad number of technical achievements. A substantial number of those duplication achievements, taken for granted today, were pioneered by Stein and implemented by Crest. Dating from the first MPEG 4 IFE files, they include the first selectable IFE subtitles, the first IFE DVDs, innovations and introductions of MPEG 1 compression into the IFE industry, innovations on HI8 duplication,
many innovations related to the transfer of film to video, multiple language applications, duplications of 8mm film, and, prior to that, pioneering efforts in the production and duplication of early 16mm film prints.

In addition to being an industry leader in IFE media innovation, Stein has devoted his company to the support and development of WAEA.

2008    Steve Harvey
Steve Harvey first joined the IFE world in 1979 when he and his business partner founded Inflight Productions (then Inflight Radio). His firm (“IFP”) progressed to become one of IFE’s most major creative and technical audio and video production entities. Harvey became an enthusiastic member of the association in 1981 and actively served on the WAEA Board of Directors for two terms. Harvey was the primary mover in establishing the WAEA's Avion Awards program. He was also the brainchild of Inflight Productions' highly successful 1995 IPCON event that later, with his altruistic assistance, evolved into the WAEA TV Market. Later, he was instrumental in establishing the iECcon event in Dubai. Departing from IFP in 2007, Harvey continued his IFE career and remains as one of its most innovative entrepanuers.

2007    Jim Snyder
When awarded, Jim Snyder had been associated with the aircraft equipment industry for 34 years and served on the WAEA Board of Directors for 11 successive years. Initially with Sundstrand Aerospace, his career progressed through Trans Com, Sony Trans Com, and Rockwell Collins … playing a major role in coordinating his company's special events, communications, and marketing efforts … including their participation in 24 WAEA Conferences. Jim served on the WAEA’s Conference & Exhibition Committee and chaired the WAEA’s Conference Committees, Facilities & Future Sites Committees, played a pivotal role in planning 16 WAEA Annual Conference & Exhibitions, and always accomplished each of his roles with a flair. He contributed a high level of dignity and professionalism to WAEA and his creative, marketing, and exhibition skills are well recognized.

2007    Michael Covell
Michael Covell began his entertainment-related career with MGM and then went on to a 12-year stint with Trans Com where he coordinated programming with airlines, duplicators and service company representatives. During that time, he mentored countless airline and service company representatives … educating them on issues relating to content acquisition and distribution. He later represented Hal Roach Studios and then became co-founder of Entertainment in Motion - the largest independent IFE distributor of the time, Throughout his career with MGM, Trans Com, Hal Roach Studios, and Entertainment In Motion, Covell has been known as an innovator and believed that an open dialogue between airlines, distributors, and service companies was essential to the expansion of the industry.

2006    Kent Harrison Hayes
Kent served on the WAEA Board of Directors for seven years and is the only vendor member in the WAEA’s history to have served as Vice President. He headed up WAEA's Conference Committee for 13 years and contributed his strong creative and management skills to the enterprise. His company Intersound was a mainstay in the IFE industry for many years and Harrison Hayes used his firm’s facilities, services, and resources to support WAEA in many ways. He and his staff have served frequently over the years as speakers at WAEA educational events and as key participants in WAEA Technology Committee work. 

2005    Italo Poli
Italo Poli had a 31-year career with Swissair and was one of the industry’s first IFE enthusiasts and a founding member of the association. He headed a European consortium of film bookers and played a strong role in the AEA and WAEA as a board member and as the association’s first two-term president. Italo was “one of a kind” and his strong personality influenced WAEA greatly. He played a very strong role in WAEA’s 1989 Annual Conference in Basel, Switzerland and introduced the first exhibition that utilized hard-wall booths or stands.

2004 Pam Ryan
Pamela Ryan served on the WAEA Board of Directors from 1989 to 1992 and helped transition WAEA from a small volunteer-driven group to a large professionally managed global trade organization. Her career began in the mid 1960s with British Caledonian Airways (then British United) in the Inflight Services department. In 1979, she joined Sony Trans Com (then Sundstrand) where she served for 20 years, rising to the position of director of programming and customer service for more than 74 airline clients. Ryan was responsible for the first appearance on any airline of television content, with the first-ever sales of a BBC program to British Airways (in the 1980s). She also helped pioneer pricing structures that are now industry standards for “personal television” and “audio/video-on-demand” and later served for many years at service company Spafax.

2004    John White
John N. White was a founding member of WAEA and helped establish the earliest construction of the organization’s charter and bylaws. He served as WAEA’s (AEA’s) President in 1983. While serving as vice president in 1982, White launched the organization's original “newsletter” and, over the years, transformed it into a magazine (AVION) distributed worldwide. His career began in 1960 with Delta Air Lines and he became involved in IFE in 1973. He pioneered the use of video for inflight safety and destination information and duty-free sales. He partnered with CNN to create the first inflight news-magazine shows and was there to inaugurate Delta’s first live inflight radio program and first inflight telephony systems. White became known as the IFE industry’s historian and an industry spokesman.

2003    John McMahon 
John McMahon was a founding member of WAEA and served on the WAEA Board of Directors from 1981-1986 and again from 2006-2009. During his earlier term, he served as WAEA Treasurer and, with great effort, firmly established the association’s earliest financial plan. McMahon’s career dates back to the early 1970s, when he was manager of inflight entertainment for Qantas Airways. His career then took him to positions at key inflight content supplier companies, including Inflight Motion Pictures, Hughes Avicom and Entertainment Concepts (which he founded), and later to his executive role at Atlas Air Film + Media. McMahon exhibited a consummate devotion to serving WAEA.

2003   Linda Palmer
Beginning her career with Disney as a Disneyland tour guide, Palmer progressed to a Sr. Vice President status with Disney and became involved with WAEA in 1982. She served on WAEA’s Board of Directors for over a dozen terms, most of which as WAEA Treasurer and WAEA Communications Chair. As such, she was responsible for the financial health of the organization, the launch and growth of key WAEA publications, and she helped shape the organization over the past decade and more. For over two decades, Palmer served as a leader and innovator in the “film distributor” community, serving the airline IFE industry and serving as an altruistic but very strong and leading force in the direction of the association and its management.

2001    Rich Salter
A long-term member of the association, Salter officially entered the IFE industry in 1980 with his founding of the firm Asinc Airshow. With associates, it was Salter’s vision to develop the aviation industry’s “moving map” system that locates an aircraft’s relative global position. He left Airshow in 1995 and formed his own Consulting firm. Salter served on the WAEA Board of Directors from 1997-2000 and, before and after, served WAEA's Technology Committee. He has been a tireless and most knowledgeable worker, tireless organizer, and informed voice for WAEA on technical and educational matters.

2001    Evelyn Gordon
Evelyn Gordon of Twentieth Century Fox was a vibrant and strong-willed force and voice in AEA and WAEA. She served several terms on the board and as the WAEA’s Treasurer and, following John McMahon, continued to execute a strong practice of frugality in the WAEA’s finances. She was a willing volunteer in any endeavor and enjoyed a wide circle of friends throughout the world.

1997    Cindy Tarver
Tarver was the prime mover in organizing and getting sponsorships for the first IFE assemblage not sponsored by a single company. It was, in fact, a move to counter Trans Com’s annual and most successful Distributors Meetings. The event took place in 1979 and included business meetings, a tennis and golf tournament, and several social events. It proved to be a success and participants decided to form an association (soon formalized as the Airline Entertainment Association). Tarver continued to play a strong role in the association, served on the board, originated and spearheaded the WAEA Technology Committee. Her career included positions with Billboard, Music In The Air, Avicom, Rockwell Collins and Transdigital.

1996    Richard Bertagna
Bertagna was a prominent force from IFE’s earliest days. Originally with Bell & Howell’s Avicom division that competed against Inflight Motion Pictures, Bertagna broke away and founded Avicom as a separate company. His Avicom grew to become a major force and innovator in the IFE industry. A constant force and source of new IFE ideas, Bertagna’s Avicom company was a major competitor and developer of new products. He was a supporter of WAEA and he devoted substantial resources to underpin that support.  Bertagna’s dominance reigned supreme as his firm was bartered from Lockheed Avicom, Hughes Avicom, and on to Rockwell Collins - but his predominance in the IFE industry remains secure. Several firms later, Bertagna’s reputation as the generator of new ideas remains secure.

1996    John Landstrom
John Landstrom first came upon the IFE scene when assigned by his employer Sundstrand to oversee the firms investment and, later, acquisition of Trans Com – a start-up company trying to develop an 8mm film IFE projection system. Under Landstrom’s leadership, Trans Com grew to become the predominant IFE hardware and service company in the industry. Landstrom early recognized the value of partnerships between IFE hardware and Hollywood and he forged those relationships. Landstom’s Trans Com Distributors Conferences and the feelings they generated fostered the first 1979 meeting of competitors and the formation of AEA. He supported the new association and sponsored it fully. Landstrom was a dynamic mover in the IFE industry.

1991    Sam Weinstein
As head of non-theatrical distribution for Twentieth Century Fox, Sam was an early member and enthusiastic supporter of the association. He lent his firm’s full backing. Sam was, however, dismissive of earlier-days confrontational relationships between distributors and airlines and he consistently worked to span that gap. Fox, guided by Weinstein's influence, was a stalwart contributor to WAEA in every way. Weinstein was also the leading and first distributor breaking from fixed film rates and negotiating formerly fixed rates. Soft-spoken and gentle, Weinstein was a force in his day.

1987    John Lehotsky
John Lahotsky was a  “hail fellow – well met” and an active participant in the early association. As the Vice President General Manager of MGM/UA’s ancillary markets, Lahotsky was a marketing innovator and the first to present “packaged” programming to airline clients. Well liked by his associates, Lahotsky’s “Lifetime Membership” award was presented to him as a gesture of appreciation on behalf of his many IFE associates during his time of lingering demise and early death.

1981    John Doremus
Doremus was a deeply, mellifluously voiced radio talent who maintained a studio in Chicago and supplied some of IFE’s earliest audio programming with his firm John Doremus, Inc. and, later, Doremus Music In The Air. He deeply committed the resources to the establishment, and his people to the development of AEA. During its time, his company served as one of IFE’s major audio production sources for many airlines. The association’s first organizational bylaws were drafted in Doremus’ studios and he served as an early stalwart of support.

1981    David Flexer
Awarded posthumously, WAEA (then the AEA) awarded its highest recognition to the founder of Inflight Motion Pictures (IFP) in recognition of his development of the industry’s first IFE system. An operator of several movie theaters, Flexer had the vision of entertaining airline passengers with movies during extended flights. He formed IFP, developed a 16mm film projection system, and successfully marketed it to the airline industry. First appearing on TWA in 1961,  Flexer’s idea gave birth to the IFE industry.

 

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