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Brothers Ulick and Desmond McEvaddy, the founders and owners of Omega Aerial Refueling Services, Inc., received the coveted Aerial Refueling Systems Advisory Group’s (ARSAG) Founder’s Award in April at the organization’s annual convention, this year in Tucson, Arizona. The award was presented by ARSAG Executive Chairman and founder Lieutenant General John B. Sams, Jr., U.S. Air Force (Ret.) along with ARSAG Executive Chairman Dexter H. Kalt. 

The Founders Award is the highest honor ARSAG awards each year. To be eligible for the Founder’s Award, the recipient shall have made a noteworthy contribution to the aerial refueling community. Their contributions may have resulted in improvements to aerial refueling including: technical; operational; design; performance; maintenance; or interoperability. Their contributions also may involve aerial refueling tankers and/or receivers. 

The McEvaddys received the award for their “truly unique and trail-blazing contributions to the global aerial refueling community and steadfast support of ARSAG International”. They were commended for “[turning] a seemingly impossible vision into reality and [creating] the first, and still the only, contracted aerial refueling service in the world.”

The McEvaddys first established Omega Air as a company specializing in the sale and leasing of aircraft in the early 1980s. The company expanded to become the largest trader in B-707 aircraft in the world and the largest single supplier of this repurposed aircraft to the U.S. military. In 1996, the McEvaddys went on to purchase several DC-10-40 aircraft. After developing an aerial refueling conversion modification, there were able to put the first contracted KDC-10 tanker into service with the U.S. Navy in 2007. From a single entity, Omega Air developed into a group of six aviation companies whose services include R&D, aerial refueling, engineering, maintenance, spare parts, engine repair, aircraft sales, and leasing of B-707 and DC-10 aircraft.

Always embracing a challenge, the McEvaddys provided one of their modified Boeing 707 tankers to conduct the first-ever autonomous aerial refueling in 2006 in support of a DARPA program, refueling a NASA F-18.  The success of this program led to Omega’s build-up and eventual aerial refueling of the UCAS-D, Northrop Grumman X-47B for the first-ever unmanned autonomous aerial refueling in 2015.

Today, their company Omega Air Refueling Services, Inc., headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia, has remained the world’s only commercial provider of contract air-to-air refueling services since 2001. The company is currently under contract to provide air-to-air refueling services to the U.S. Navy and has helped resolve air refueling shortfalls of allied militaries around the globe.