Lee County Port Auth. (Ret.)
Robert served as the executive director for Lee County Port Authority which runs the Southwest Florida International Airport and Page Field until he retired a few years ago. Under his leadership, air service blossomed and passenger traffic at Southwest Florida International Airport increased from 3.7 million to more than 8 million per year, with the regional economic impact of the airports rising to more than $4 billion annually.
His career achievements have included receiving the Aviation Professional of the Year in 2009 from the Florida Department of Transportation. He was named the FDOT Commercial Airport of the Year in 1994, 2003, 2006, 2008, 2012 and 2015. In 2012, The News-Press Media Group named him “Person of the Year” and the Southeast Chapter of the American Association of Airport Executives named him Airport Professional of the Year in 2002, 2011 and 2016.
His retirement "new adventures" include touring national parks with wife Susan and their dogs and taking horseback trips with an Apache pal in New Mexico to see Native American hieroglyphs.
Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc
Dir. of Aviation Svc. | Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc
Fin graduated from FL Tech in 1996 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Aviation Management with Flight, and a Master of Science Degree in Airport Management and Development in 1999.
Fin is an accomplished airport planner and project manager with 21 years of world-wide experience, and is well-versed in Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), and International Air Transport Association (IATA) regulations, standards, and recommended practices. Fin also has 15+ years of teaching experience as a full-time and adjunct professor at the Florida Institute of Technology College of Aeronautics. He is an avid pilot, holding a FAA commercial pilot license with instrument rating for both single and multi-engine aircraft.
Fin has also been a chair/panelist/speaker for multiple aviation organizations such as TRB-ACRP, AAAE, ACC, FAC, and ACI, and has authored numerous articles for Passenger Terminal World, Airport Business Magazine, and Airport Consulting Magazine. He has guest lectured at Universities in Brazil and Chile, and is a Certified Instructor for Transoft AviPlan (formerly known as PathPlanner) aircraft modeling and simulation software.
Fin is a member of the Tony Jannus Distinguished Aviation Society serving on their Scholars and VIP committees; serves on the Board of Supervisory Directors for the Aruba Airport Authority to provide expertise on the $300 million 2030 Gateway Project; serves as Co-Chair for the Transportation Research Board (TRB) AV-020 Aviation System Planning Symposium 2021 Subcommittee; serves as Chair for the 2018-2019 Airport Consultant Council (ACC) Terminal and Facilities Committee; serves as a board member of the Florida Institute of Technology Alumni Association; and, is the President of the Florida Institute of Technology College of Aeronautics Alumni Association (COAAA).
Mira Vista Aviation
Executive Vice President at Mira Vista Aviation
BNP Associates, Inc
President, BNP Associates, Inc
David Mecartney, driven by a childhood dream of becoming a pilot and escaping the harsh Chicago winters, matriculated at Florida Institute of Technology in 1978 and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Flight Technology & Aviation Management. He obtained all his of his flight ratings including a CFI. Due to an economic recession dampening the prospects of becoming a commercial pilot, he pursued a career as a consultant. After graduating in 1982, Mr. Mecartney was employed as an entry level planner at BNP Associates, Inc., a worldwide consulting firm specializing in the design of baggage handling, cargo handling, security screening, and parcel handling systems related to airports.
When he started at BNP, the company had a single office in Stamford, CT with only 7 employees. After working his way through the company, he became President of BNP in 1995, and has since grown and proliferated the company to employ over 100 personnel across multiple offices around the world. Under David’s leadership, BNP has provided consultancy services to some of the largest airports in the world, including Singapore, Chicago, Hong Kong, London, Los Angeles, and Orlando. While President, he continued to pursue his passion for flying, acquiring initially a Skyhawk, moving to a Saratoga, a couple of Meridians, two Mustangs and now flies his own Cessna Citation CJ3+. Along with flying, David also endeavors several philanthropic interests, especially support for Colorado Children’s Hospital. His interests include golf and road biking.
David has three children and currently lives in Jackson Hole, WY.
Swiss Intl. Air Lines
Sr. Mgr. of Aircraft Asset Mgmt. | Swiss Intl. Air Lines
Clarissa earned her BA in both Aviation Management and Business Administration from Florida Tech in 2009, in 2013 she completed the executive Master of European and International Business Law at the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland. She started her career as a consultant at Swiss Aviation Consultants and currently works at Swiss International Air Lines in the Asset Management department.
Pilot | United Airlines
Pilot | United Airlines
Jill A. Eanes grew up outside of Washington, DC. She earned her Bachelor’s of Science in Aviation and her M.B.A. at Florida Institute of Technology (Florida Tech), where she was also an assistant chief flight instructor.
In 1995, Jill started flying for Northwest Airlink in Memphis, TN on the BA-3100 and the Saab 340. She was a captain and check airman on the Saab 340, and served as the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) Secretary Treasurer. Jill celebrated her 20-year anniversary at United Airlines in 2019. She began her career at United flying the Boeing 737 and has flown the Airbus A320 and Boeing 757/767; she currently flies the Boeing 777 as a first officer. She has served as a flight manager, facilitated a Human Factor Change Review course and Operational Efficiency training for United Airlines. Jill has also volunteered for United’s Women Mentoring Women Organization, and the Air Line Pilots Association’s Local Scheduling Committee and the ALPA United Airlines’ Master Executive Council Legislative Committee. During a three-year furlough from United, Jill flew at USA 3000 Airlines and JetBlue. As part of the initial cadre check airman at JetBlue for the North American launch of the E190 aircraft, Jill was the first woman to pilot a delivery flight of an Embraer to a customer’s base. Jill lives in Sunnyvale, CA with her wife, Kitty. They enjoy hiking in our incredible National Parks, as well as biking and running in less wild locations.
Lead Captain / Check Airman Jet Aviation
Booz Allen Hamilton
Senior Associate | Booz Allen Hamilton
Chris Fernando is a Senior Associate at Booz Allen Hamilton with more than 17 years of professional experience in the aviation industry. He is currently the market lead for emerging technologies in aviation and analytics in the transportation business at the firm. His areas of expertise include emerging aviation technologies, airport and environmental planning, airspace and aircraft operations, and air traffic management. Over the past five years, Mr. Fernando has served as the urban air mobility (UAM) and unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) lead for Booz Allen’s transportation and infrastructure business. In this role, he has worked with clients to address complex emerging technology issues and engaged in strategic partnerships with industry to support these clients in planning and hosting successful workshops, stakeholder engagement roundtables, and conferences. Past clients include the Federal Aviation Administration, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center, and Transportation Research Board’s Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP). Most notably, Mr. Fernando served as the principal investigator for a NASA market study to research the policy, economic, social, environmental, and legal barriers to enabling UAM and forecast current and future demand. Mr. Fernando holds a bachelor’s degree in Aviation Management from the Florida Institute of Technology.
Director of Global Operations at FlyNewton
Brent was raised in the mountains of Colorado where he enjoyed skiing, hiking, camping and other regional activities which he still enjoys today. His father and grandfather were both recreational pilots, the later of which was an Army Airforce pilot flying the B-17, B-24 and finally the B-29. The stories of Grandpa Bob flying these planes, including the Memphis Belle, is what got Brent interested in aviation.
Brent graduated from FIT in 2012 with a BS in Aviation Management with Flight. While he had a passion for flying, it was clear to him upon graduation that it was not a passion strong enough to lead to a career. Respecting his love for aviation, he accepted a job in Dallas, Texas working in the private jet charter industry for Starbase Jet. He learned about private jet charter sales and operations for almost two years before moving to Florida to work for a startup called JetSmarter. Brent was employee number nine at JetSmarter and over the next four years the team grew the company into a unicorn tech company valued at $1.5 billion with over 300 employees. Brent started as a sales representative and worked his way up to Director of Sales for the United States. Brent also opened the UK office located in London, England. Brent negotiated the first agreements with operators to do scheduled shared flights or “shuttle” flights under part 380 of the FAA regulations. While many in the industry thought this was in violation of FAA regulation, JetSmarter found a way to make the shared private jet flight legal and accessible to the consumer. Brent is now working on a new venture called FlyNewton. He is the Director of Global Operations. FlyNewton focuses on UHNWI who are interested in a truly private experience when flying. FlyNewton clientele expect nothing but the best often chartering, BBJs, ACJs, Lineages, and ultra-long range jets.
Brent lives in Fort Lauderdale, FL where he enjoys the warm weather and activities like boating, scuba diving, and paddle boarding.
Wheels Up Corporate Sales
Sean McGeough, Executive Vice President, Wheels Up Corporate Sales
Sean McGeough joined Wheels UP as their executive vice president for North American Corporate Sales. An established aircraft sales leader, Mr. McGeough previously served as the Vice President of North American Sales at Aerion Corporation, the first supersonic business jet where he was responsible for a fleet sale to Flex Jet worth over 2.5 billion dollars and 20 aircraft.
Prior to joining Aerion, McGeough served as the CEO of the pioneering Nextant Aerospace. In that role, he was responsible for developing Nextant into a global, award-winning aviation brand. Mr. McGeough oversaw the company’s growth, international expansion, new product launches, operations and customer support.
Mr. McGeough fostered new relationships with General Electric, Garmin and Jet Aviation to enhance the company’s capabilities and raise its profile in the industry. He orchestrated high profile sales with Purdue University and NASCAR. They boosted global PR coverage by 300%, increasing brand awareness in all regions.
These achievements build on a record of international sales success with Hawker Beechcraft (HBC). Following postings in South Africa and Switzerland, he served in Chester, England as President of Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific (EMEA & APAC).
Among other innovations Mr. McGeough established a center of excellence, co-locating the EMEA & APAC headquarters, a customization center and world-class maintenance facility. He set up regional headquarters in Singapore and Beijing, significantly increasing sales to flight departments and doubling the Chinese fleet of turboprops. He also grew special missions business in training, air ambulance and surveillance. In London’s Mayfair, he pioneered the world’s first private aviation sales storefront and built partnerships with Formula 1, the PGA, amfAR and the World Economic Summit.
Mr. McGeough holds a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from the Florida Institute of Technology where he wrote his Master’s thesis on the commercialization of supersonic technology for business aircraft. He is an airline transport pilot (ATP) with type ratings on Hawker 400XP, Hawker 800XP and King Air. He was a board member of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) and the Remanufacturers Industries Council (RIC). He is also an active member of the Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO).
He lives in Red Bank, NJ with his wife Mary and their five children, Ava, Lana, Evita, Finn and Tristan. Sean enjoys playing golf, running and boating when he is not flying.
Exec. V.P. – Corporate Strategy & Dev. | Hudson Group
At the age of 15 Mike boldly stated in his eighth grade yearbook that he was going to be a pilot. At that point he had never set foot in an airplane and had never even met a pilot. His childhood imagination and untapped curiosity about the world outside his backyard was a powerful engine.
For Mike, his path through college and work was not a circuitous one, no changed majors, not a series of different industry jobs. Since that day in the hot steamy grade school gym his path has been as straight as a runway. Now celebrating his 31st year in the aviation industry that he dreamed of being part of as a kid, Mike loves the challenges and adventures that he has the joy to be part of.
Today Mike is the Executive Vice President, Corporate Strategy & Development for Hudson Group. For his 15 years with Hudson he has led a team focused on the company’s strategic direction, business development, governmental affairs and business diversity.
His flight path prior to Hudson took him through flight, education, aviation consultancy and airport management experiences; providing him with a uniquely rounded perspective in the aviation industry.
Outside work Mike is an outdoor adventurist (recent trips have included exploring the wilderness of Peru and Laos on motorcycle, cave diving in Mexico and rock climbing in Joshua Tree and Taho) and is an advocate for Organ and Tissue donation.
B767 Captain | FedEx Express
Mary Murphy is currently a B767 Captain for FedEx Express. Mary first took to the skies in January 1982 in a Piper Tomahawk. She earned her B.S. in Aviation Management from Florida Tech while working as a flight instructor for FIT Aviation. She then flew as a First Officer and Captain at the regional airline Commutair before beginning her extended career flying for FedEx. A life-long contributor a with an insatiable desire to gain new perspectives, she has held positions with the FedEx Pilots Association, Flight Training Department, Flight Operations Management and ALPA. Her contributions while managing the B727/B757/B767 fleet of airplanes earned her the prestigious FedEx 5-star award. She is currently working on the enforcement of the current pilot contract. When Mrs. Murphy isn’t flying around the globe, she spends her time focusing on her most important job as mother to her two children, Analise and Daniel, practicing yoga and playing indoor soccer. She resides in Memphis, Tennessee with her husband Steven. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Captain, United Airlines
Brian Ridyard came to Florida Tech in 1985 from Branford, Connecticut. He completed a B.S. in Aviation Management / Flight Technology in 1989 and a Master’s in Business Administration in 1992. He was a flight instructor in Vero Beach, Florida and in 1995 started at Continental Express Airlines where he flew the Beech 1900 and ATR 42. In 1999 he transitioned to Continental Airlines. Now with United Airlines he has flown the B757, B767 and is currently Captain on the B737 based in Newark, New Jersey.
Brian met his first wife Lourdes (B.S. Psychology) at Florida Tech in 1987 and they had 2 children. Lourdes passed due to cancer in 2013 and in 2017 Brian married Tiffany. They have 5 adult children and live in Merritt Island Florida where they enjoy boating, traveling and cooking.
Port City Colombo Pvt. Ltd.,
Manager at CHEC Port City Colombo Pvt. Ltd.
Mr. Shalaka Wijeyaratne resides in Sri Lanka and holds an MBA (specialization in Marketing) from the University of Bedfordshire (UK) and a BSc in Aeronautical Science without flight (summa cum laude) from Florida Institute of Technology (USA). He is currently the Manager - Property Development at CHEC Port City Colombo Pvt. Ltd.; the master developer of the 269-hectare reclaimed land development, which is an extension of the existing CBD and positioned to be a world class city in South Asia. In addition, Mr. Wijeyaratne is also an Independent/Non-Executive Director on the Boards of Canwill Holdings Pvt. Ltd., Sinolanka Hotels & Spa Pvt. Ltd. (developer of the proposed Grand Hyatt Colombo Hotel) and Helanco Hotel & Spa Pvt. Ltd. (developer of the proposed Hyatt Hambantota Hotel). In the immediate past, he also served as the Managing Director of the aforementioned companies.
Mr. Wijeyaratne is also an active philanthropist and social welfare proponent. He is the President of Heal Lanka Society Limited that he Co-Founded to help provide assistance and sustainable long-term relief to the victims of the Easter Sunday Bombings of 2019. Currently, the organization has further expanded to champion campaigns and efforts to elevate and empower the marginalized and underprivileged citizens of Sri Lanka’s society. Mr. Wijeyaratne is also an active alumni member of Oxford College of Business, Sri Lanka where he has participated in several CSR initiatives, namely “Out of Darkness” that won the Social Empowerment award at the Asia Responsible Entrepreneurship Awards and International CSR Summit in 2016.