Brian Barents has had a distinguished and influential career in both military and civil aviation. Upon graduating from Western Michigan University in 1965, he entered U.S. Air Force fighter pilot training, and went on to fly successive generations of fighter aircraft including the F-100, F-105, F-4 and F-16, logging more than 4,700 hours. He is also type rated in various Cessna Citation and Learjet aircraft. Barents, call sign “Godfather,” retired from the military in 2000 with the rank of Brigadier General and Adjutant General for Air for the State of Kansas.
As a senior vice president for Cessna Aircraft Company, he was responsible for worldwide sales, marketing, product support and aircraft completion, and participated in new product development as that company established the highly successful Citation series of aircraft. As president and CEO of Learjet, Inc., Barents turned the company’s negative earnings into the most profitable in the company’s 32-year history. During his tenure (1989-1996), long-range strategies and new innovative products (including the Learjet 31A, Learjet 45, and Learjet 60) were introduced, resulting in an order backlog exceeding $1 billion.
He served as president, CEO, and managing partner for Galaxy Aerospace Corporation, where he led the company to a sales backlog of $2.5 billion prior to negotiating its sale to General Dynamics in 2001.
As co-chairman of Aerion Corporation from 2003, and later as CEO, he provided unique vision and industry knowledge to guide the company from its early days as a high-tech start-up to the threshold of launching a renaissance in supersonic flight. Barents has been instrumental in forming Aerion’s relationships with industry leaders Lockheed Martin, GE Aviation and Honeywell Aerospace—the dream team for developing a family of supersonic jets. He continues to serve on the Aerion board of directors.
He is a past chairman of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, and currently serves on the boards of Kaman Corporation and West Star Aviation, and has previously been a board member at Nordam, CAE, Hawker Beechcraft, and Eclipse Aviation. Barents is a past president of the Kansas Food Bank, Wichita Chamber of Commerce and has served on the board of Hospice of Kansas.