GA Awards AirVenture After Action Report ‐ 2012

Recipients of the 2012 National General Aviation Awards are A&P / IA Marvin Hornbostel of Junction City KS (AMT of the Year); CFI Jeanné Willerth of Lee’s Summit MO (FAASTeam Rep of the Year); MCFI Hobie Tomlinson of Huntington VT (CFI of the Year); and Rick Ochs, an FAA Repairman & pilot, of Gahanna OH (Avionics Tech of the Year).

FAA Administrator Huerta, Hornbostel, Willerth, Tomlinson & Ochs

Upon their arrival at AirVenture, the winners and their guests were provided with extensive tours of the grounds to highlight important GA Awards locations (e.g., Meet the Administrator venue, Theater in the Woods, GA Awards luncheon, Pioneer Airport, the Tri-motor shack, AirVenture museum, etc). EAA continues its extraordinarily generous support of the GA Awards program with such things as:

  • The GA Awards luncheon venue;
  • Theater in the Woods venue;
  • Week-long wristbands for each winner and a guest;
  • “B” Lot parking passes;
  • AirVenture programs & maps;
  • Ford Tri-motor & helicopter flights;
  • A, B, C, D, E “all gates” vehicle passes;
  • A 6-place golf cart for transporting winners, their guests, and their gifts.

All four national winners and their guests stated repeatedly and emphatically that they had a wonderful time at AirVenture and that they were made to feel very much at home. All four stayed at a Comfort Inn in Fond du Lac. The committee will have to pay some extra lodging fees this year because that hotel is now requiring a 5-night minimum. Four new nameplates for the 2012 national winners were added to the large perpetual plaque hanging in the EAA museum’s Halls of Fame area now located in the downstairs hallway by the Vette Theatre entrance.

Oshkosh GA Awards perpetual plaque

FAA Administrator Michael “Mike” Huerta arrived for Wednesday evening’s program at Theater in the Woods. Valerie Palazzolo, acting Nat’l FAASTeam Manager, and Nat’l GA Awards program chair JoAnn Hill introduced the program, a cooperative effort between industry and FAA, and described how the nomination and judging process works. The audience of approximately 1500 AirVenture attendees were encouraged to nominate worthy individuals in the four GA Awards categories. They also explained that the program’s expenses and the gifts for the four national winners are covered by the program’s industry sponsors.

They then introduced the Administrator who, in turn, introduced the winners to the audience. Huerta presented the award winners with their FAA plaques. That was followed by each individual’s “This is your life in aviation” video prepared by Nat’l GA Awards vice chair John Teipen. Afterwards, each of the gave a brief thank-you / acceptance speech. All recent GA Awards videos can be found on You Tube at:

Administrator Huerta & FAASTeam Rep Jeanné Willerth

Once again, John Teipen proved to be the hero of the day. When the EAA theatre folks were unable to locate the DVDs, he provided four extra copies he had brought along just in case. Glenna Blackwell took photos of the winners both onstage and backstage. Many of her photos will soon be posted on the GA Awards website at Many thanks also to EAA’s Jane Smith (Lieutenant Smith!) as well as longtime EAA volunteers Steve Weaver, Margie Weaver, and Judy Mueller for making sure the awards presentations went off without a hitch.

On Thursday morning, Administrator Huerta arrived at the Honda Pavilion for the “Meet the Administrator” news conference. He once again acknowledged and introduced the four national award winners to a large audience.

The GA Awards LLC committee hosted a luncheon on Thursday afternoon (26Jul12) in Nature Center Tent #2 that was attended by approximately 60 people. It was at this event that the award recipients received their gifts from industry. Each winner had a table covered with gifts including $1000 gift certificates from Snap-On Tools and checks from AOPA & NATA. Industry gift donors were given the opportunity to present their gifts in person to the winners. Glenna Blackwell took many more photos. For the past several years, all past national award winners for whom we have contact information and this year’s regional winners have been invited. Even though Mother Nature presented us with the challenge of a torrential downpour, we were able to salvage all gifts and still have a memorable luncheon. Thanks also to OSH Whitman Field Operations Manager and SAFE director John Dorcey who took custody of and stored the GA Awards gifts mailed to Oshkosh prior to AirVenture.

Also in attendance were one previous AMT of the Year, one previous Avionics Tech of the Year, four previous ASCs / FAASTeam Reps, and five previous CFIs of the Year. Two 2012 regional winners were there along with representatives from many of the program’s industry sponsoring organizations. For the second year, there was a full-color printed program (attached to this report) featuring the four winners with photos and short biographies. Sponsors, gift donors, and supporters were included as well. At the luncheon’s conclusion, JoAnn announced the recent formation of General Aviation Awards LLC and named the board of directors who had worked tirelessly to put together this year’s program (Chairman JoAnn Hill; Vice-chair John Teipen [past CFI & FAASTeam Rep of the Year]; Secretary Mike Gaffney [past CFI of the Year]; Treasurer Paul New [past AMT of the Year], fund raisers Paul Burger (AFASF) & GAMA’s Kate Fraser; and GA Awards LLC communications director Sandy Hill. It is a goal of the group to ultimately have previous award winners maintain the awards program.

The four winners were also special guests at Thursday evening’s SAFE membership dinner at the Whitman Airport terminal that was attended by more than 180 hungry aviators. After helicopter sightseeing flights and Ford Trimotor rides, most of the winners departed on Saturday.

The July / August 2012 issue of FAA Safety Briefing magazine (formerly FAA Aviation News) has a wonderful 4-page spread (pages 28 to 31) on this year’s General Aviation Awards (see ). Not only are the four national winners profiled but also all regional winners are named. Many of the sponsoring / donating / supporting organizations were also identified in the article. Our sincere thanks and kudos go to the crew at FAA Safety Briefing for the great coverage and for recognizing all of these outstanding aviation professionals. A nice write-up also appeared in Wednesday’s edition of the AirVenture Today newspaper in addition to a dozen or more industry e-publications. These are yet more examples of the FAA and industry working together to recognize excellence!

Financial sponsorship, gift donations, and support for the General Aviation Awards program is provided by Women in Aviation International (WAI), Snap-On Tools (Snap-On), Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation (Sikorsky), the Society of Aviation and Flight Educators (SAFE), Ninety-Nines International (The 99s), the National Business Aviation Ass’n (NBAA), the National Ass’n of State Aviation Officials (NASAO), the National Aviation Safety Foundation (NASF), the National Air Transportation Ass’n (NATA), Rod Machado, King Schools (King), Jeppesen – A Boeing Company (Jeppesen), Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation (Gulfstream), Gleim Publications (Gleim), the General Aviation Manufacturers Ass’n (GAMA), Garmin International (Garmin), FAASTeam Associates LLC (FAASTeam), the Flight School Ass’n of North America (FSANA), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Duncan Aviation (Duncan), David Clark Company, Cessna Aircraft Corporation (Cessna), Bose Corporation (Bose), the Aircraft Maintenance Technology Society (AMT Society), the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Ass’n (AOPA), the Aeronautical Repair Station Ass’n (ARSA), Aviation Supplies & Academics (ASA), “Anonymous,” and especially the Experimental Aircraft Ass’n (EAA).

Additional program support is being provided by Advocates for Aviation Safety Foundation (AASF), Glenna Blackwell Photography, John Teipen, Master Instructors LLC (MI LLC), Rich Stowell Consulting (, and webmistress Jenny Furst (Virtual Accounting Services).