2005 National GA Awards Winners Named

In each of the past 42 years, the General Aviation Awards Program and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) have recognized a small group of aviation professionals in the fields of flight instruction, aviation maintenance, avionics and safety for their contributions to aviation safety and education.

This awards program is a cooperative effort between the FAA and a dozen industry sponsors.  The selection process begins at local Flight Standards District Offices (FSDO) and then moves on to the nine regional FAA offices.  Panels of aviation professionals within the various fields then select national winners from the pool of regional awardees.

Recipients of this year’s national awards are John Anthony Teipen of University City, Missouri, Certificated Flight Instructor (CFI) of the Year; Michael Cheever Church of Costa Mesa, California, Aviation Safety Counselor (ASC) of the Year; Michael O’Brian “Mike” Branham of Bella Vista, Arkansas, Aviation Maintenance Technician (AMT) of the Year; and Charles Allen Hanner of Lincoln, Nebraska, Avionics Technician of the Year.

FAA Administrator Marion Blakey will present the national awards during a “Theater in the Woods” program at EAA AirVenture 2005 inOshkosh,Wisconsin.

“These awards highlight the important role played by these individuals in promoting aviation safety and education,” said JoAnn Hill, General Aviation Awards Committee chairman.  “The awards program sponsors are pleased that these outstanding aviation professionals will receive the recognition they so richly deserve before their peers inOshkosh.”


2005 CFI OF THE YEAR:  Master CFI John Teipen exemplifies the standard of professionalism in the field of flight instruction.  He is involved in all levels of aviation education from soaring and seaplanes to academics and CFI continuing education.

John Teipen

Earning a pilot certificate in 1984, he became a certificated flight instructor in 1996.  He teaches in the aviation program atSt LouisCommunity Collegeand is an independent flight instructor in theSt Louisarea specializing in tailwheel endorsements and upset/spin training in his recently rebuilt 1969 Bellanca 7ECA Citabria.  He also serves as an aviation safety counselor as well as a designated pilot examiner in airplanes and gliders.

The Greater St Louis Flight Instructors Association, St Louis Soaring Association, the local Aeronca Champ Club and EAA’s Young Eagles Program all benefit from his many hours of pro bono service.  Starting out as a flight instructor revalidation clinic (FIRC) lecturer for the Greater St Louis Flight Instructors Association, he now serves as the association’s FIRC director.  He is also a founding member of theSt Louispilot examiners group.

Teipen believes in continuing education for all pilots and includes himself in that regimen.  During the past five years, he has added airplane multiengine land (MEL), airplane single engine sea (SES) and multiengine instructor (MEI) ratings.  A regular attendee at safety seminars, he has also achieved level eight in the FAA’s Pilot Proficiency Awards “WINGS” program.

He is one of approximately 450 aviation educators worldwide who holds a Master Instructor designation.  This professional accreditation is granted by the National Association of Flight Instructors (NAFI) to outstanding aviation educators who are demonstrating an ongoing commitment to excellence, professional growth, and service to the aviation community.  He is a longtime member of NAFI as well as AOPA, EAA and IAC.

Teipen (John@Teipen.com) represented the St Louis FSDO and the FAA’s Central Region.  This year’s other regional CFI winners include Master CFI Judy Cadmus of Collegeville, Pennsylvania (FAA Eastern Region); Master CFI Lonnie Hilkemeier of Boulder, Colorado (FAA Northwest Mountain Region); Master CFI Gene Hudson of Sylmar, California (FAA Western Region); Master CFI Dan Keen of Lafayette, Indiana (FAA Great Lakes Region); John Moyers of Burlington, North Carolina (FAA Southern Region); Paul Pitts of Keller, Texas (FAA Southwest Region);  and Ann Walko of Wisasset, Maine (FAA New England Region).


2005 ASC OF THE YEAR:  Master CFI Michael Church has been a flight instructor for 35 years and has served as an Aviation Safety Counselor (ASC) for more than 16 of those years.  He is the chief flight instructor and president of Sunrise Aviation, a Part 141 flight school andCessnaPilotCenter atSanta Ana’s John Wayne-Orange County Airport (SNA).

Michael Church

As president and a longtime board member of the Western Pacific Aviation Safety Foundation, Church has worked in partnership with the FAA’s Western Pacific Regional Office to promote aviation safety initiatives through education.  He participates in the FAA’s WINGS program and provides informational as well as aviation safety seminars.  He also regularly makes presentations to the non-flying public about airports, flight training and aerobatic flight.  The FAA frequently calls upon him to provide remedial training to pilots as a substitute for certificate enforcement action.

In addition to his duties as chief CFI of Sunrise Aviation, Church is also a Cirrus authorized flight instructor as well as a prolific author.  He writes aerobatic manuals, flight course syllabi and DVD ground school courses.  A contributing editor for both Private Pilot and Pacific Flyer, he provides monthly columns for those publications entitled “IFR Refresher” and “Back to Basics,” respectively.

Church is active in the International Aerobatics Club (IAC) on the local and national levels.  He is the secretary and director of communications for IAC’s Chapter 36.  His duties include editing the chapter’s newsletter and functioning as webmaster for their web site.  He has served as a judge at aerobatic competitions for 12 years, coached chapter members, operated training camps, been a competitor himself and is now an aerobatic contest director.

Continuing to upgrade his own aviation skills, he has taken advanced training to become a Cirrus standardized instructor and a facilitator for interactive computer avionics training with Electronic Flight Solutions.  He continues to take advanced aerobatic training from nationally renowned instructors.  Holder of both Master CFI and Master CFI-Aerobatic designations, he is a member of AOPA, EAA, IAC and NAFI.

Church (MC@SunriseAviation.com) represented the Long Beach FSDO and the FAA’s Western Pacific Region.  This year’s other regional ASC winners include Joseph R Brigham of Bow, New Hampshire (FAA’s New England Region); Dennis R Gardisser of Lonoke, Arkansas (FAA’s Southwest Region); Brian L Robbins of Columbus, New Jersey (FAA’s Eastern Region); John R Scott of Denver, Colorado (FAA’s Northwest Mountain Region); John Paul St Peter of Detroit, Michigan (FAA’s Great Lakes Region); and James Edward Trusty of Old Hickory, Tennessee (FAA’s Southern Region).


2005 AMT OF THE YEAR:  Mike Branham began his aviation maintenance career in 1981 as a crew chief on a US Air Force KC135A Stratotanker.  After serving four years in the Air Force, he enlisted in the US Coast Guard where he worked as a flight mechanic on the HH-65A Dolphin helicopter and a dropmaster on the HU25A Falcon Jet.

Mike Branham

During his time in the Coast Guard, he specialized in aircraft composite structural repair.  He also participated in search and rescue missions, fishery patrols, and drug enforcement missions.  In recognition of his performance on these missions, he was awarded a Coast Guard Commendation Medal.

He received his airframe and powerplant (A&P) mechanic certification in 1990.  After leaving the Coast Guard, he worked as lead mechanic for Raytheon Aircraft Systems performing depot level inspections on Navy T-34/44s.  He also served as a crew chief for Ozark Aircraft Systems at Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport (XNA).  In that capacity, he supervised the inspections and line maintenance for American Eagle Emory Air 145/135s.

In 1999, he began his career with Wal-Mart Stores as an aircraft technician maintaining their corporate fleet.  In January of 2000, he was granted inspection authorization by the FAA and joined Wal-Mart Aviation’s quality assurance team.  He was also named manager of their nondestructive testing program.  In 2004, he was promoted to Wal-Mart’s maintenance manager.  In that position, he helps maintain a fleet of more than 20 corporate aircraft including Lear 31s, 35s, 45s, Global Express and a Challenger.  Last year, the aircraft of Wal-Mart Aviation flew over 16,000 hours throughout the world.

When not overseeing the maintenance of Wal-Mart’s aircraft fleet, he enjoys restoring his 1969 Camaro and spending time with his family onTablerockLakein the Ozark Mountains of northernArkansas.

Branham (MBranha@Wal-Mart.com) represented the Little Rock FSDO as well as the FAA’s Southwest Region.  This year’s other regional AMT winners include John Joseph Connolly of Centerville, Maine (FAA New England Region); William David Cruey of Batavia, Ohio  (FAA Great Lakes Region); Fred Everett Hetrick of Berryton, Kansas (FAA Central Region); Roy Merritt Hines of Raleigh, North Carolina (FAA Southern Region); John Charles Perry of Rangely, Colorado (FAA Northwest Mountain Region); and Bobby Gene Speaker of Sun City, Arizona (FAA Western Pacific Region).


2005 AVIONICS TECH OF THE YEAR:  Charles Hanner’s first exposure to the world of aviation came through stories told to him by his grandfather, a World War II Navy veteran who maintained Vought F4U Corsairs and North American P-51 Mustangs.  These stories planted the seeds that later germinated into a career as a professional avionics technician.

Charles Hanner

His interest in electronics developed through his participation in a basic high school electronics course.  After graduation, he decided to pursue that interest further and enrolled atWesternIowaTechCommunity CollegeinSioux City,Iowa.  While there, he majored in telecommunications and graduated in 1990 with a degree in telecommunications technology.

Armed with this training, he applied for a position in 1990 as an avionics technician at the headquarters facility of Duncan Aviation at Lincoln Airport (LNK) inLincoln,Nebraska.  A member of the Aircraft Electronics Association (AEA), Duncan is an FAA repair station as well as a full service FBO.  With more than 1800 employees, they have service centers inLincolnas wellBattle Creek,Michigan.  Initially, Hanner performed component level repairs on autopilots and flight director systems while also doing some line maintenance.  His introduction to general aviation aircraft test flights was on a Lear 25D and what an introduction that was!

In January of 1998, he was promoted to avionics line team leader and continues in that position today.  In that capacity, he schedules aircraft maintenance, coordinates work on aircraft, mentors other technicians, works directly with customers and supervises the daily operations ofDuncan’s avionics line maintenance team.  He also finds time to continue his professional education by taking systems training, management and team-focused courses.  In addition to an FAA repairman certificate, he also holds an FCC general radiotelephone license with a ship radar endorsement.

Hanner (Charles_Hanner@DuncanAviation.com) represented the Lincoln FSDO and the FAA’s Central Region.  This year’s other regional avionics technician winners were Kirt Thomas Sanderbeck of Sherman, Illinois (FAA’s Great Lakes Region); Andrew James Scanlon of Ellsworth, Maine (FAA’s New England Region); Edward Ernest Stertmann of Pine Bluff, Arkansas (FAA’s Southwest Region); Thomas Patrick Supon of Rincon, Georgia (FAA’s Southern Region); and Harold Webster Wells of Peoria, Arizona (FAA’s Western Pacific Region).

The General Aviation Awards program executive committee includes the Aircraft Electronics Association (AEA), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the National Association of Flight Instructors (NAFI) and the Professional Aviation Maintenance Association (PAMA).  Additional support and sponsorship are provided by Women in Aviation International (WAI), the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), the National Association of State Aviation Officials (NASAO), the National Air Transportation Association (NATA), the Helicopter Association International (HAI), the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) and the Aeronautical Repair Station Association (ARSA).