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"Support the troops" in overseas deliveries---Kalitta Air Employees step forward: Conrad (Connie" Kalitta

Conrad (Connie" Kalitta
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Kalitta Air


Conrad “Connie” Kalitta is the CEO of Kalitta Air, located in Michigan and a retired American drag racing driver, once known as "The Bounty Hunter" now owner of a four car nitro professional drag racing team.

  Kalitta has a lifetime of experience in the airline industry that goes back to 1967 when he began transporting parts for the automotive business with a twin engine Cessna 310 that he piloted himself. Over the years, Kalitta grew from a one airplane operation into a substantial airline conglomerate named American International Airways, Inc. (AIA), that used B747, L1011, DC8, B727, DC9, Twin Beech and Learjet aircraft in worldwide airfreight, air ambulance and charter passenger operations. AIA supported the Desert Shield/Desert Storm operations with award winning efforts. In 1990 and 1991 AIA flew 600 missions in support of Desert Shield/Desert Storm.  AIA was one of the world's 25 largest airlines with revenues in excess of $400 million derived from both scheduled and on-demand air charters as well as third party engine and airframe maintenance service.

After the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, when airports were closed and all flights were grounded, there was only one plane in the sky that night that was not an F-16 fighter.  It was a Kalitta Air 747 hauling relief supplies from the West coast to aid disaster workers. In 2003 Kalitta was awarded a Certificate of Appreciation for support of the Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom Operations and Kalitta continues to support the USPS with scheduled flights delivering mail and packages to the soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.  

The Michigan-based company that makes regular overseas military deliveries held a “Support the Troops” donation drive and was overwhelmed at the response, said Cindy Goodboo, special project mail coordinator. Company employees donated time, sundries and money to make the drive successful. And to assist his team in supporting deployed service members, Conrad Kalitta, company owner, matched every dollar his employees put in. In total, the company collected over $55,000 to support the troops.

Kalitta continues to evolve the air business as evidenced by his revival of the aircraft maintenance facility in Oscoda, Michigan which was once the home of the old Wurtsmith Air Force Base. Utilizing most of the airport and several hangars, over 600 employees work around the clock to maintain the aircraft.

The FAA recently presented Kalitta Air with The Diamond Award which is the FAA’s highest honor for maintenance training. Utilizing most of the airport and several hangars, over 600 employees work around the clock to maintain the fleet of 33 747s as well as third party maintenance for other airlines and airline-related training including simulator training.

  For being a pioneer in air cargo, as well as a major supplier to our government’s efforts around the world, and his continued influence on the industry we award our Hero of Industry and Technology to Conrad “Connie” Kalitta.  The award was accepted by Jim Kottmeier who nominated Mr. Kalita. Jim later presented the award personally to him at drag race during 2013.

Jim Kottmeier presents Connie Kalitta with his Hero of Industry & Technology Award in Sept 2012
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