2012 General Aviation Award Winners

Recipients of this year's national awards are: Marvin Hornbostel, Eric Christopher "Rick" Ochs, Hobart Caleb "Hobie" Tomlinson, and Jeanné Carole Willerth.


Hornbostel has been married to his high school sweetheart, Janice, for 55 years. Together they have four children and five grandchildren.

2012 National Avionics Technician of the Year

Eric Christopher “Rick” Ochs of Gahanna, OH, has been named the 2012 National Avionics Technician of the Year. He owns and manages Spirit Avionics Limited, an FAA certified Part 145 repair station at Port Columbus Airport (KCMH) in Columbus, OH.

Ochs grew up in Columbus as an avid hot-rodder and attended a vocational education program entitled “Communications Electronics” in high school. It was there that he developed an interest in electronics and nurtured his mechanical aptitude.

He obtained his formal avionics training in the U.S. Navy and began his career on the flight deck of the carrier USS Forrestal (CV-59) as an avionics troubleshooter. After his discharge from service, he received additional avionics education in the industry via a succession of positions at large and small companies.

In March 2000, he founded his own company, Spirit Avionics, which began as a one-man operation. Spirit Avionics now employs 10 people and services military, federal, corporate, and private aircraft.

With more than 25 years of avionics experience, Ochs is a well-known leader within the avionics community. He currently works on initiatives to elevate the professional credentials of aircraft technicians through his involvement with the National Center for Aerospace and Transportation Technologies (NCATT). And he serves on the Aircraft Electronics Association (AEA) board of directors.

A soon-to-be-instrument-rated private pilot, Ochs also holds Radio 1, 2, and 3 Repairman certificates and an Airframe mechanic certificate as well as an FCC General Radio Operator license. He regularly flies the company’s Cessna 182 with the latest avionics technologies installed by the Spirit Avionics team.

A member of the EAA who regularly participates in FAASTeam outreach initiatives, Ochs is married and has four children.

2012 National CFI of the Year

Master CFI Hobart Caleb “Hobie” Tomlinson of Huntington, VT, has been named the 2012 National Certificated Flight Instructor of the Year. He is employed by Heritage Aviation at Burlington International Airport (KBTV) and is an independent flight instructor as well as a designated pilot examiner (DPE). Not only is he a current five-time Master CFI, but in 2010 he earned the FAA’s Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award.

Tomlinson inherited his love of aviation from his father, who was a WWII U.S. Army instructor pilot in Burlington. After his dad taught him to fly, he went on to earn commercial, instrument, multiengine, and airline transport pilot certifications as well as flight instructor ratings and several type ratings. He has amassed more than 35,000 total flight hours.

In 1964, Tomlinson graduated from Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston with a major in Aircraft Maintenance Technology and an A&P certificate. After graduating from Vermont Military Academy, he served a six-year tour in the Vermont National Guard. Meanwhile, he worked as a flight instructor, aircraft mechanic, and charter pilot for Northern Airways.

Tomlinson earned his initial flight instructor certification in 1965 and has been an active CFI ever since.

A FAASTeam lead representative for his local FSDO, he presents safety seminars and writes a monthly safety newsletter for more than 300 subscribers. He was also responsible for presenting and advising on the eight-part CFI workshops and routinely participates in the Northeast Safety Expo. Additionally, he has earned and maintains the FAA Master-level WINGS.

Married with two grown daughters, Tomlinson is an EAA Flight Advisor as well as a member of AOPA, SAFE, NAFI, WBA, VAA, IAC, and SPA.

2012 National FAASTeam Representative of the Year

Jeanné Carole Willerth of Lee’s Summit, MO, is the 2012 National FAASTeam Representative of the Year. Her personal mantra is “aspire to inspire before you expire!” She believes true leadership requires giving back. Whether it is lobbying for GA, recruiting new members for the 99s, or fulfilling a Vietnam veteran’s last wish for a flight over Kansas City, Willerth is a leader.

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