2006 National GA Awards Winners Named

In each of the past 43 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 Richard Loren “Rich” Stowell of Ventura, California, Certificated Flight Instructor (CFI) of the Year; Eugene Charles “Gene” Hudson of Mission Hills, California, Aviation Safety Counselor (ASC) of the Year; Joseph Clemens “Joe” Hawkins of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, Aviation Maintenance Technician (AMT) of the Year; and Terry David Markovich of Bedminster, New Jersey, Avionics Technician of the Year.

FAA Administrator Marion Blakey will present the national awards in July during a “Theater in the Woods” program at EAA AirVenture 2006 inOshkosh,Wisconsin.

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


2006 CFI OF THE YEAR:  Master CFI-Aerobatic Rich Stowell, a resident ofVentura,California, specializes in spin, emergency maneuver, aerobatic, and tailwheel training. When not conducting training clinics nationwide, he instructs at CP Aviation, Inc, a CFR Part 61 flight school at Santa Paula Airport (SZP).

Rich Stowell

As a teenager growing up inNorthwestern New Jerseyin the 1970s, Stowell was inspired by the performances of aerobatic legends Leo Loudenslager and Betty Stewart during the annual Sussex Airshow. In 1982, he took his first flying lesson atSussexAirportin a Piper Cherokee 140.  Two years and 84 hours total time later, he began aerobatic training in a Super Decathlon. Work as a consulting engineer eventually took him to Southern California, where he would spend weekends flying aerobatics fromSanta PaulaAirport. In 1987, his then-girlfriend — and now wife — made a suggestion: “Why not quit your job and give instructing a try for a year?”

Completely immersed in aviation, Stowell developed and promoted the EMT® (Emergency Maneuver Training) Program. Spinning with pilots from all over the world led to the development of his trademark PARE spin recovery checklist. Designated an “Official Spin Doctor” by the International Aerobatic Club (IAC), Stowell has performed more than 26,800 spins with students – the equivalent to nearly 1,300 vertical miles while spinning.

Articles about Stowell’s teaching techniques have appeared in Sport Pilot, Flying, AOPA Pilot, and Air & Space magazines, to name a few. He has scripted several aviation videos, including the FAA’s “Loss of Control” series, and has written numerous articles for publications such as Aviation Safety, Plane & Pilot, and Flight Training magazines. He has authored three aviation books. The newest, available later this year, is entitled The Light Airplane Pilot’s Guide to Stall/Spin Awareness.

Stowell conducts numerous safety seminars annually, crisscrossing the USfrom Alaskato Florida, Californiato Massachusetts. He has given seminars and instruction in Canadaas well as Indonesiaand Japan.  He also maintains the AviationLearningCenterweb site (www.RichStowell.com).  Stowell upgrades his own piloting skills by participating in the FAA Wings and IAC Achievement Awards Programs.  Holder of NAFI’s first Master CFI-Aerobatic accreditation, he also serves as an FAA Aviation Safety Counselor and is a member of AOPA, EAA, IAC, and NAFI.

Stowell (Rich@RichStowell.com) represented the Van Nuys FSDO and the FAA’s Western Pacific Region.  This year’s other regional CFI winners include Master CFI Michael Berlin of West Hartford, Connecticut (FAA’s Eastern Region); Janice Gray Driscoll of Kernersville, North Carolina (FAA’s Southern Region); Master CFI Helen D “Pat” Knight of Naperville, Illinois (FAA’s Great Lakes Region); Master CFI Janice Walton of Marion, Iowa (FAA’s Central Region); and Charles “Bud” Welch of Arkadelphia, Arkansas (FAA’s Southwest Region).


2006 ASC OF THE YEAR:  Master CFI Gene Hudson, a resident of Mission Hills, California is the chief flight instructor and president of Gene Hudson Flight Training (www.GeneHudson.com), a CFR Part 61 flight school at Van Nuys Airport (VNY).  He specializes in instrument, high-performance and technically advanced aircraft training.

Gene Hudson

His interest in aviation developed early while building plastic and balsawood model aircraft.  That led to becoming a cadet in the Civil Air Patrol where, in 1971, he had his first flight in a Cessna 150.  For the next ten years, his flight training was put on hold because of high school, college and a 4-year stint in the US Army’s signal corps.  Finally in the mid-1980s, he was able to acquire the necessary certificates and ratings to become a flight instructor, a profession he has practiced since 1987.

An Aviation Safety Counselor (ASC) for more than 18 years, his skills as a lecturer are widely known in southernCalifornia.  He regularly offers WINGS safety seminars to standing-room-only crowds on such topics as instrument flying techniques, airspace, landings and the human factors of flight.  He also lectures to local pilot examiners on human factors and the psychology of pilot error as a part of their annual recurrency training.  In each of the past two years, he has made presentations at EAA’s AirVenture and AOPA’s Expo.  In addition, the FAA frequently calls upon him to provide remedial training to pilots as a substitute for certificate enforcement action.

Hudsonalso promotes aviation safety through the written word.  His articles have appeared in Plane & Pilot, Private Pilot and SoCal Aviation Review as well as the US Air Force Flight Safety magazine.  He is the author of one book, Instrument Flying Made Easy, and is currently working on a companion volume that will help pilots recognize and recover from vacuum and other failures in instrument conditions.

Continuing to upgrade his own aviation skills, he has taken advanced training to become a Cirrus Standardized Instructor and teaches in the Cessna Pilots Association’s operations course.  In 2005,Hudson’s flight school was named aCirrusStandardizedTrainingCenter.  Holder of Master CFI accreditation, he is a member of AOPA, EAA and NAFI.

Hudson(Flyer190@adelphia.net) represented the Van Nuys FSDO and the FAA’s Western Pacific Region.  This year’s other regional ASC winners include air traffic controller Andrew Eugene “Andy” Applegate of Nashua, New Hampshire (FAA’s New England Region); Randy Lee Coller of Jackson, Michigan (FAA’s Great Lakes Region); Homer Glenn Ellis, CFI & AME, of Fort Smith, Arkansas (FAA’s Southwest Region); air traffic controller Robin Marie Huston of Wichita, Kansas (FAA’s Central Region);  Harold Gene “Joe” Johanson of Port Orange, Florida (FAA’s Southern Region); John Robert Scott, CFI, of Denver, Colorado (FAA’s Northwest Mountain Region); and Frank Scotto, CFI, of Brooklyn, New York (FAA’s Eastern Region).


2006 AMT OF THE YEAR:  Joe Hawkins has been an airframe & powerplant (A&P) technician for almost 30 years and has held inspection authorization (IA) for 15 of those years.

Joe Hawkins

The seeds that grew into his 3-decade long aviation career were planted early in life by his grandfather, a World War II Navy pilot.  At age 22, Hawkins joined the US Army where he received his initial aviation maintenance training.  As a CH-47 Chinook helicopter flight engineer with the 101st Airborne, he earned air crew wings and an Army Commendation Medal.

In 1979, after his 3-year stint in the Army, he began his civilian aviation career with Stevens Aviation, first inSouth Carolinaand later inNashville.  During his tenure at Stevens, Hawkins was instrumental in creating repair station manuals, establishing shop routines and safety procedures, enhancing the customer base and developing personnel training.  He also had time to hone his technical and trouble shooting skills on a wide variety of general aviation aircraft ranging from Beech Sundowners and Bell Helicopters to Citations and Learjets.

Hawkins left Stevens in 1991 and took a position as chief aviation maintenance technician forTennessee’s Department of Transportation (TDOT) inNashville.  While there, he was responsible for the maintenance, repair and airworthiness of a fleet of piston and turbine powered state owned aircraft.

Hearing the call of academia, Hawkins enrolled in Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) as a 39-year old freshman.  In 1999, he was awarded a BS degree in Aviation Maintenance Management from Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU).  That was followed shortly thereafter with a Masters of Education.

After almost a decade as an MTSU student, Hawkins switched roles and is now an assistant professor in MTSU’s Aerospace Department teaching maintenance management courses in their Part 147 curriculum.  He also assists with the maintenance and repair of the university’s two corporate aircraft.  A long time FAA aviation safety counselor, he serves on the steering committee forNashville’s annual Tennessee Mid-South Aviation Maintenance Conference.  He is also a member of EAA, CAP, UAA and PAMA.

Hawkins (JHawkins@mtsu.edu) represented the Nashville FSDO as well as the FAA’s Southern Region.  This year’s other regional AMT winners include Patrick G “Pat” Davis of Lafayette, Colorado (FAA’s Northwest Mountain Region); Donnie Joe Lewellen of Friona, Texas (FAA’s Southwest Region); Leroy Alan Muise of Trenton, Maine (FAA’s New England Region); James “Jim” Tafralian of Howell, Michigan (FAA’s Great Lakes Region); and Robert M “Bob” Takamine of Honolulu, Hawaii (FAA’s Western Pacific Region).


2006 AVIONICS TECH OF THE YEAR:  Terry Markovich, a Houston native, has had an interest in electronics since 1967 when he was eight years old.  While a high school student, he had his first real exposure to the world of aviation and avionics when a family friend suggested that

Terry Markovich

he apply for an avionics vocational training position with Atlantic Aviation inHouston,Texas.  He started training part time inAtlantic’s avionics department in April of 1977 and upon graduation from high school, became a full time avionics technician.

After a succession of avionics positions in the Houstonarea, he went to Duncan Aviation (www.DuncanAviation.com) in 1985 as an avionics technician and manager of their newHouston avionics shop.  His primary duty was to oversee all avionics service work.

For the next eight years, he served as a technician and manager in Duncan Aviation’s avionics departments inWashington,DCandRonkonkoma,New York.  At both of those locations, he managed two separate 3-man avionics shops while providing oversight of all service and installation work.

In March of 1995, he relocated toBedminster,New Jerseyand again took a position with Duncan Aviation in their FAA Part 145 repair station and avionics department at Teterboro Airport (TEB).  There, he manages an avionics shop with 16 employees while supervising avionics installations, installation engineering and troubleshooting in corporate turbine aircraft.

Markovich’s lifelong interest in electronics and avionics led to the creation of his own business, Aviation Tools (www.AvionicTools.com), in 2004.  While satisfying his engineering curiosity and his desire to learn more about embedded software programming, he also designs aviation oriented test equipment.  A member of the Aircraft Electronics Association (AEA) since 1997, Markovich has served on AEA’s Region I Board of Directors.

An avid mountain biker, snowboarder and windsurfer, Markovich still finds time outside the shop to pursue his interest in electronics by reading physics, electrical engineering and software engineering texts.  He also furthers his professional skills and education by studying new trends in avionics as well as participating in training courses offered by avionics manufacturers.

Markovich (Terry_Markovich@DuncanAviation.com) represented the Teterboro FSDO and the FAA’s Eastern Region.  This year’s other regional avionics technician winners were Alan Ray “Al” Hosier of Alma, Arkansas (FAA’s Southwest Region); Charles Joseph “Chuck” Lirette of Memphis, Tennessee (FAA’s Southern Region); and Gary Lee Ross of Grand Ledge, Michigan (FAA’s Great Lakes 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).