Founding Team


Stephen Vella, Chief Executive OfficerStephen Vella, Chief Executive Officer


Fascinated since childhood with all things aerospace, Stephen Vella followed his passion.
With over 38 years in aviation, Stephen has established a formidable reputation for professionalism, vision, depth of knowledge, integrity, problem-solving and perseverance; His contacts reach the highest levels of the airline, corporate aviation and aircraft manufacturing industries.


A desire to provide tailored solutions for commercial airlines, corporate jet operators and manufacturers, encouraged Stephen together with partner Nohl Martin to launch Kestrel Aviation Management. Trained as an aerospace engineer, he brings to his clients deep, industry-leading experience in aviation, coupled with multifaceted acumen in design, international relations, and advisory services.

After receiving his Aeronautical Engineering degree at Queen Mary College, London University, Stephen earned his Master of Science in Air Transport Engineering at Cranfield Institute of Technology before joining British Caledonian Airways’ (BCAL) Corporate Planning Division in 1976.


Four years later, he transitioned to BCAL’s aircraft asset management group and in 1985 was promoted to General Manager of British Caledonian Aircraft Trading. He was the youngest GM in the history of BCAL.

June 1987 saw Mr. Vella become one of the founding General Managers of the newly formed Ansett Worldwide Aviation Services (AWAS), responsible for Europe, Africa and South America.


The following year, Mr. Vella formed Aircraft Leasing and Management Ltd (ALM) and served as its Managing Director and principal shareholder for over 14 years. London-based ALM satisfied the aircraft asset management, financing and aviation consultancy needs of respected airlines, lessors, investors and financial institutions. By late 2002, when Stephen Vella sold his shareholding, ALM had developed a managed aircraft portfolio with a value exceeding US$1 billion and under his leadership earned ALM the Queen’s Award for Export Achievement.


Stephen Vella was Fleet Planning Advisor from 1986 through 1996 to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Program for Developing Nation Airlines and a lecturer in Fleet Planning to IATA, the Latin American and Caribbean Air Transport Association and Airbus Management Courses as well as various other industry organizations. In 1997, he advised the CEO and Board of a struggling Gulf carrier and over 15 years turned the airline into a global network carrier with an award-winning brand.

Stephen Vella formed Prime Aviation Ltd in December 2002, after selling his shareholding in ALM, but retained key clients at their insistence. Prime Aviation engaged in activities ranging from aircraft purchasing, sales, financing and remarketing to fleet planning and airline start-up and business consulting.


Mr. Vella formed Kestrel Aviation Management Ltd in 2009 to better serve the specific requirements of key international clients. The company became based in the USA in 2014.

A business leader with clients on 6 continents, Mr. Vella is a UK citizen, born in Gibraltar, and is bilingual English-Spanish and also fluent in French. His life story is one of perseverance, integrity, hard work, and entrepreneurship – all compelling assets he brings to his clients.

Nohl Martin, Partner and Executive Vice PresidentNohl Martin, Vice President Business Development


Nohl Martin’s deep commitment to building bridges globally through commerce makes her a leader in international business development. She has over 15 years of experience focused on identifying and creating successful international partnerships with the Arab Gulf States.

Before joining Kestrel, she started four companies, sold two, and coached entrepreneurs in launching their own companies. Passion, dedication, integrity and above all, experience in business development, strategy and communication are hallmarks of her work.

Ms. Martin graduated from Oberlin College with a double major in International Studies and Religion. Upon graduating, she was one of 55 people nationally to receive the prestigious Thomas J. Watson Fellowship (IBM).


She grew up in La Jolla, California attending the top rated Bishop’s School of La Jolla graduating with honors including the head of school award.

Ms. Martin has the dust of many lands on her shoes, having lived in Europe, USA and Africa. Outside of work and family time, she can be found hiking or gardening, creating an oasis of inspiration and tranquility.