2012 National General Aviation Award Winners Named

March 1, 2012

LONGMONT, Colorado (29 February 2012) - In each of the past 49 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, education, and flight safety.

This awards program is a cooperative effort between the FAA and more than a dozen industry sponsors ( http://www.GeneralAviationAwards.org ).  The selection process begins with local FAA Safety Team managers at Flight Standards District Offices (FSDOs) and then moves on to the eight regional FAA offices.  Previous national awards winners from each of those four fields then select national winners from the pool of regional winners.

Recipients of this year's national awards are Marvin Hornbostel of Junction City, Kansas, Aviation Maintenance Technician (AMT) of the Year; Eric Christopher “Rick” Ochs of Gahanna, Ohio, Avionics Technician of the Year; MCFI Hobart Caleb “Hobie” Tomlinson of Huntington, Vermont, Certificated Flight Instructor (CFI) of the Year; and Jeanné Carole Willerth of Lee’s Summit, Missouri, FAA Safety Team Representative of the Year.  Previously, this award was the Aviation Safety Counselor (ASC) of the Year.

The FAA administrator will present the national awards in July during a "Theater in the Woods" program at EAA AirVenture 2012 in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.  Included in the prize package for all four national winners is an all expense paid trip to Oshkosh for the recipient and a guest to attend the awards presentation and other GA Awards activities.  

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

2012 NATIONAL AMT OF THE YEAR: Marvin Hornbostel of Junction City, Kansas is a recipient of the FAA’s Charles Taylor Master Mechanic who has been working more than 50 years as an airframe and powerplant (A&P) technician. He has held inspection authorization (IA) for 40 of those years.

His passion for airplanes started early. Growing up during World War II, his dream was to fly B-17s. Of course, the war didn't wait for him but when his dad gave him his first rubber band powered balsa model airplane, his future was decided.

He began his career in aviation with the United States Army at Fort Rucker, Alabama, where he received basic aviation maintenance training followed by two years of service in Germany.  After discharge, he worked with a maintenance contractor at Fort Riley, Kansas, performing maintenance on Army aircraft. Thirty-two years later, he retired as the shop supervisor.

During his years at Fort Riley, Marvin spent his spare time working on general aviation aircraft while learning all he could about fabric covering. His first complete restoration in 1968 was a 1941 Taylorcraft. Two of his restored aircraft have been award winners at airshows in Oshkosh and Blakesburg, Iowa.

After retiring in 1990, he continued restoring fabric aircraft at his home in rural Junction City. Within a short time, his ability to work with fabric covering became widely known and turned into a business. Marvin, along with his son Jon, own and operate Raven Aero Service, which was formed in 1992. Raven specializes in antique and classic aircraft restoration. Shortly thereafter, the business outgrew the facility and was relocated to Junction City’s Freeman Field (3JC). Raven currently has four full time employees.

Marvin provides summer jobs for students interested in aircraft restoration from Kansas State University’s Aviation School. He also works with the Junction City High School Guided Study Program to provide hands-on training to students interested in aviation maintenance. Additionally, he provides work experience and mentorship to Army aviation maintenance technicians to help them transition into civilian careers.

Marvin serves on the Junction City Airport Aviation Advisory Board and is president of EAA Chapter 1364, the "Wing Nuts." With a grant from The Greater Manhattan Community Foundation, he was instrumental in starting a Youth Aviation Education Program in the local chapter. The group participates in EAA’s Young Eagles Program, has built a flight simulator, and is presently constructing a Bowers Fly-Baby.

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

Hornbostel ([email protected]) represented the Wichita FSDO area as well as the FAA's Central Region. This year's other regional AMT winners include Patrick Michael “Pat” Carey of Redondo Beach, CA (FAA's Western Pacific Region); Jack Lynn Haun of Port Orange, FL (FAA's Southern Region); Robert Lee Hensley of Oklahoma City, OK (FAA's Southwest Region); Jacob Rama “Jake” Milstein of Boulder, CO (FAA's Northwest Mountain Region); Steven Nelson “Steve” Skinner from Northfield, VT (FAA's Eastern Region); and Janese ValerieThatcher-Buzzell of Inver Grove Heights, MN (FAA's Great Lakes Region

2012 NATIONAL AVIONICS TECHNICIAN OF THE YEAR: Eric Christopher “Rick” Ochs of Gahanna, Ohio 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 (CMH) in Columbus, Ohio.

Rick 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 United States 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 of 2000, he founded his own company, Spirit Avionics. The business began as a one-man operation. Presently, Spirit Avionics employees 10 people and services military, federal, corporate, and private aircraft.

With over 25 years of avionics experience, Rick is a well-known leader within the avionics community. He has been dedicated to establishing avionics technician national certification and academic accreditation standards to enhance professional development. He also is heavily involved in industry and FAA initiatives to properly recognize avionics technicians for their critical role in aircraft maintenance and modifications.

Rick 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). NCATT is a non-profit organization dedicated to establishing globally recognized training accreditation and certification standards to qualify aerospace professionals in their respective career fields. They've developed industry certification standards for aircraft electronics technicians and he is working in their workshops to help establish standards and credentialing requirements for professional avionics technicians.

In addition to serving on the Aircraft Electronics Association (AEA) board of directors, Rick is chairman of the AEA's Member Benefits Committee and is the FAA Ambassador for the Columbus FSDO. He serves on the National Business Aviation Association's (NBAA) Maintenance Manager's committee and co-chairs the Advanced Training and Education sub-committee. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the Youth Aviation Adventure program.

A soon-to-be-instrument-rated private pilot, Rick also holds Radio 1, 2 & 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 FAA FAASTeam outreach initiatives, Rick is married to Pam and they have four children.

Ochs ([email protected]) represented the Columbus FSDO area and the FAA's Great Lakes Region. This year's other regional Avionics Technician of the Year winners include John Tildon Austin Jr of Honolulu, HI (FAA’s Western Pacific Region); William David “Bill” Betts from Smithfield, NC (FAA’s Eastern Region); and James Andrew “Jim” Lightfoot Sr of Milliken, CO (FAA’s Northwest Mountain Region).

2012 NATIONAL CFI OF THE YEAR:   Master CFI Hobart Caleb “Hobie” Tomlinson of Huntington, Vermont, has been named the 2012 National Certificated Flight Instructor of the Year. He is employed by Heritage Aviation at Burlington (BTV) and is an independent flight instructor as well as a designated pilot examiner (DPE). Not only is he a current 5-time Master CFI but in 2010, he earned the FAA’s Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award.

Hobie inherited his love of aviation from his father who was a WWII US Army instructor pilot in Burlington. After his dad taught him to fly, Hobie went on to earn commercial, instrument, multi-engine, 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, Hobie graduated from Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston with a major in Aircraft Maintenance Technology and an Aircraft and Powerplant (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.

Hobie earned his initial flight instructor certification in 1965 and has been an active CFI ever since. He always finds a way to be a teacher in virtually every job setting. Today, his primary areas of specialty are in instrument and multiengine training at the CFI and ATP levels as well as tailwheel aircraft and seaplanes. He is also a Cirrus (CSIP) certified instructor, has served as an FAA DPE since 1977, and has accumulated over 11,000 instructional hours since becoming a CFI.

A FAASTeam lead representative for his local FSDO, he presents safety seminars and writes a monthly safety newsletter for over 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.

Starting in 1967, Hobie spent the next 33 years as a flight engineer, pilot, and simulator instructor with Trans World Airlines (TWA). Since 2005, he has been Heritage Aviation’s director of safety and a Citation CE560XL check airman. He is also responsible for creating and teaching safety management systems (SMS) curricula to all employees.

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

Tomlinson ([email protected]) represented the Portland Maine FSDO area as well as the FAA's Eastern Region. This year's other regional CFI of the Year winners include Lambert Charles “Bert” Mackentepe of Cullman, AL (FAA's Southern Region); MCFI Lynnwood Karl “Woody” Minar of Dresser, WI (FAA's Great Lakes Region); Dave William Pressy of Saint Louis, MO (FAA's Central Region); Robert Lindsay “Bob” Stedman of Parker, CO (FAA's Northwest Mountain Region); Christopher Charles “Chris” Webb from Garland, TX (FAA's Southwest Region); and Donna Marie Webster of Bakersfield, CA (FAA's Western Pacific Region).

2012 NATIONAL FAA SAFETY TEAM 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 general aviation, recruiting new members for the 99s, or fulfilling a Vietnam veteran’s last wish for a flight over Kansas City, Jeanné is a leader.

Growing up in Omaha, Nebraska, Jeanné was exposed early on to general aviation.  Both of her parents were avid aviators.  Her mother, a "Powder Puff Derby" cross-country air racer, taught Jeanné to fly at the Cessna Pilot Center (CPC) in Omaha where she instructed.  Catching the air race bug, Jeanné went along as her mom's copilot in two All Women's International Air Races.

In 1991, after 14 years of concentrating on family and a computer-marketing career, Jeanné started flying again. In 1998, she entered the 2400 mile Air Race Classic with her mother and her then 17-year-old daughter, a student pilot. She received a scholarship from the 99s in 1999 and earned her instrument rating, followed by single engine and multiengine commercial ratings.

After managing computer training centers and teaching computer science at a college, she shifted gears. Her next career change involved flying and adding a CFI, CFII, AGI, IGI, and MEI along with presenting aviation safety seminars nationwide. She also became a volunteer FAA Aviation Safety Counselor.

Jeanné instructs at Air Associates, a CPC at Johnson County Executive Airport (OJC) in Kansas City and at Lee’s Summit Airport (LXT) where she chairs the airport board. She has over 2,000 hours and teaches primary, instrument, multiengine, and Garmin G1000 transition training. She’s also a mentor for “late in life” learners and specializes in getting dormant pilots successfully back in the air.

A believer in lifelong learning, she’s a supporter of the Wings Pilot Proficiency Program. In recent years, she helped the FAA coordinate and present the eight quarterly training modules for CFIs. In addition to presenting safety seminars, she helps organize the annual FAA’s annual Safety Stand-Down.

In the 90’s, Jeanné started flying children to Shrine hospitals with her father. She has now become a passionate advocate for public benefit flying and volunteers for Angel Flight Central, Pilots ‘n Paws, Challenge Air, and Young Eagles.  She is a past chair of the Greater Kansas City 99s and serves on the local Missouri Pilot’s Association board. She is also a member of AOPA, EAA, The 99s, NAFI, and the American Bonanza Society (ABS).

Jeanné is married to Lee’s Summit attorney Joe Willerth and they have three grown children.

Willerth ([email protected] ) represented the Kansas City FSDO area and the FAA's Central Region. This year's other regional winners include Mark Alan “Mordechai” Levin of Richmond, IL (FAA's Great Lakes Region); Richard Lawrence “Rich” Martindell of San Diego, CA (FAA's Western Pacific Region); Betty Grace Meyer of Clanton, AL (FAA’s Southern Region); MCFI Megan Roberta Sayre from Bennett, CO (FAA's Northwest Mountain Region); Arthur Robert “Art” Tarola of Kutztown PA (FAA’s Eastern Region); and Henry Lee Weatherford of Mustang, OK (FAA's Southwest Region

Support and sponsorship for the General Aviation Awards program is provided by Women in Aviation International (WAI), The Society of Aviation and Flight Educators (SAFE), the Professional Aviation Maintenance Ass'n (PAMA), the Ninety-Nines International (The 99s), the National Business Aviation Ass'n (NBAA), the National Ass'n of State Aviation Officials (NASAO), the National Air Transportation Ass'n (NATA), the General Aviation Manufacturers Ass'n (GAMA), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Experimental Aircraft Ass'n (EAA), the Aircraft Maintenance Technology Society (AMT Society), the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Ass'n (AOPA), and the Aeronautical Repair Station Ass'n (ARSA).

Additional support is being provided by Advocates for Aviation Safety Foundation (AASF), Aeronautical Proficiency Training LLC (AVTrain), Master Instructors LLC (MI LLC), National Aviation Safety Foundation (NASF), and Rich Stowell Consulting (RichStowell.com).