Palm Springs, Calif., April 21 — Ray McDonald was named the 2006 AEA Member of the Year, and Sandel received the 2006 AEA Associate Member of the Year honor during the annual AEA Awards Luncheon today, at the AEA International Convention in Palm Springs, Calif.
• Ray McDonald was born in June 1957, in Corpus Christi, Texas, to Archie and Maxine McDonald. While in school, he developed an interest in aviation, and was a member of the Civil Air Patrol, completing his first solo flight at age 16 in a C-150.
McDonald began working for his uncle, Don Castleberry, in 1975 at Castleberry Instruments & Avionics in Austin, Texas, where he spent 22 years overhauling and repairing aircraft instruments, then overseeing the day-to-day operations of its quality control department, and eventually becoming the purchasing manager in 1980 when BF Goodrich purchased Castleberry. The next few years, McDonald spent as the customer service representative and, finally, the marketing program manager.
In 1997, he pulled up stakes and moved to southern California, and today is vice president of customer service for Pacific Southwest Instruments in Corona. From his deep Texas roots to his fast-paced lifestyle in California these days, McDonald is a well-known figure in the industry. He has been actively involved in the AEA throughout his career.
• This year's AEA Associate Member of the Year is a privately held company specializing in compact integrated display systems for general aviation, business aviation, air transport and regional aircraft. Founded in 1998 by inventor and aviation enthusiast Gerald Block, Sandel Avionics designs, manufactures, tests and markets its own products at its 16,000-square-foot headquarters in Vista, Calif.
Sandel's first product, the SN3308 EHSI, helped the company secure the GA industry’s largest installed base of EHSIs. A leading innovator in avionics display systems, Sandel currently offers four advanced products, including the new SN4500 4x4 EHSI; the new SA4500 4x4 EADI; the SN3500 3x3 EHSI; and the ST3400 3x3 TAWS/RMI. All four systems use Sandel's exclusive patented "light engine" display technology, a third-generation, rear-projection system similar to the displays found on the world’s new military aircraft.
This award, voted on by authorized dealers, recognizes a manufacturer or distributor for the company's service and support to the industry. Sandel often is recognized by its dealers for its superior service and support.