In each of the past 48 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. 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 the 2011 national awards are Joseph “Joe” Morales of Lakewood, Colorado, Aviation Maintenance Technician (AMT) of the Year; Russell John “Russ” Callender of Houlton, Wisconsin, Avionics Technician of the Year; MCFI-Aerobatic Judy Ann Phelps of Santa Paula, California, Certificated Flight Instructor (CFI) of the Year; and MCFI Vicki Lynn Sherman of DeLand, Florida, FAA Safety Team Representative of the Year (previously, the Aviation Safety Counselor of the Year).
The FAA administrator will present the national awards in July during a “Theater in the Woods” program at EAA AirVenture 2011 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 Committee chairperson. “The awards program sponsors and supporters are pleased that these outstanding aviation professionals will receive the recognition they so richly deserve before their peers in Oshkosh.”
2011 NATIONAL AMT OF THE YEAR: Joe Morales of Lakewood, Colorado, has been an airframe and powerplant (A&P) technician for 31 years and has held inspection authorization (IA) for 18 of those years. Joe works at the US Air Force Academy for Doss Aviation Inc (http://www.DossAviation.com/) performing contract maintenance on aircraft used in the academy’s soaring and skydiving programs. Joe is also a CFI and provides flight training at Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport (BJC) in Broomfield, Colorado, on a part time basis.
Joe has had a fascination with aviation since he was a child. Growing up in a housing project on Staten Island, New York, he built rubber band powered balsa wood models and flew them from the rooftop of his apartment building. His parents weren’t crazy about this but still encouraged his interest in aviation.
Completing his A&P training after high school, Joe began employment at Lockheed in 1980 where he spent time in the Skunk Works and later on the P-3C Orion flight line. Eventually Joe became a field Quality Assurance Representative and spent 5 years in Canada. After Lockheed closed their Burbank facility, Joe worked at various manufacturing and modification facilities. He even spent time on the B-2 Stealth Bomber production line as well as working in general aviation. During the early 1990s, Joe earned his private pilot certificate and eventually became a CFI as well as a CFII.
During the mid-1990s, Joe joined the US Naval reserve and served with Patrol Squadron 65 out of Point Mugu, California as an Aviation Machinist’s Mate working on some of the very same P-3s he helped build 15 years earlier. After several years at Southern California’s Mojave Airport where he was first exposed to warbirds, Joe relocated to Colorado.
Joe became very involved in the jet warbird community and has helped several owners maintain surplus military jets. In 2008, Joe was crew chief for a Rolls Royce Viper powered Aerovodochody L29 piloted by Mike Mangold of Red Bull fame at the National Championship Air Races held in Reno. Mike and Joe placed second, quite an accomplishment for a rookie pilot and crew chief.
He currently serves as chief inspector at two repair stations operated by Doss Aviation. A single parent and the father of two young daughters who are the love of his life, Joe carefully divides his time between his two passions, family and aviation. A member of the AMT Society and AOPA, he is a FAASTeam representative and a captain in the Civil Air Patrol.
Morales (JMor1515@msn.com) represented the Denver FSDO area as well as the FAA’s Northwest Mountain Region. This year’s other regional AMT winners include Steven Floyd “Steve” Barbieri of Summerville, SC (FAA’s Southern Region); Rhonda Dale Cooper of Wilmington, DE (FAA’s Eastern Region); Russell Mark Gaines of Benton, AR (FAA’s Southwest Region); Arthur Daniel “Art” Gee of Victorville, CA (FAA’s Western Pacific Region); Robert George “Bob” Schallip Jr from Barbeau, MI (FAA’s Great Lakes Region); and Duane Keeley “Chip” Woods of Moscow, TN (FAA’s Central Region).
2011 NATIONAL AVIONICS TECHNICIAN OF THE YEAR: Russ Callender of Houlton, Wisconsin, has been selected by the General Aviation Awards program as the 2011 National Avionics Technician of the Year. He holds a Federal Aviation Administration repairman certificate and is a certificated private pilot with over 32 years of avionics maintenance and repair experience ranging from a light sport aircraft through cabin class business jets.
He is president of RC Avionics (http://www.RCAvionics.com/) with the main facility on Anoka County Airport (ANE) in Blaine, Minnesota. Additional servicing facilities are located at Crystal Airport (MIC) in Minneapolis, Saint Paul Downtown (STP) in Saint Paul, and New Richmond Regional Airport (RNH) in New Richmond, Wisconsin.
Russ began working with an engineering group, Control Data Display Division, where several co-workers were aviators. With his interest in aviation tweaked, he joined a flying club in 1972. Along with his pilot training, he became interested in the technical aspects of flying. He aspired to the business side of flying by becoming an officer in a flying club. In 1974, he left CDC to continue his education in avionics. Two years later, he graduated from a technical college in Alexandria, Minnesota, specializing in avionics maintenance.
He gained avionics experience by working for Elliott Aviation in Des Moines and Aircraft Electronics in Minneapolis. Concurrently, he owned and ran a consumer electronics repair shop called “Sight and Sounds.” In 1978, he concentrated on opening an avionics repair facility where he designed and fabricated test equipment and secured an FAA certified repair station (CRS). This start-up avionics shop was later renamed RC Avionics. The shop grew into a 15-employee, 4-location company providing avionics maintenance for the upper Midwest.
Overseeing the entire operation, Russ supervises, trains, and mentors new avionics technicians. Although the business has expanded in capability with a large complement of skilled technicians, the doors have always been open to all facets of aviation. It is not uncommon to have biz jets and Cubs side-by-side in the shop. Today, his business model is still avionics repair and tooling up to newer technologies.
RC Avionics, a part 145 operation, has recently expanded its facility to add electronic flight simulation. Russ’s philosophy is with today’s aircraft panel instrumentation, pilot training is an essential ingredient of every sale. RC Avionics has teamed up with SimFlite Minnesota, to provide ‘niche’ training for pilots with new avionics. Customers now have access to flight training and glass cockpit simulators while their aircraft are being up-graded or their panels redesigned with state-of-the-art avionics thereby enhancing pilot proficiency and aviation safety. A US Army veteran, he is a member of AEA, AOPA, EAA, and NATA.
Callender (RussC@RCAvionics.com) represented the Minneapolis FSDO area and the FAA’s Great Lakes Region. This year’s other regional Avionics Technician of the Year winners include Andrew John “Andy” Braun of Hilltown, PA (FAA’s Eastern Region); Nora Sue “Sue” Odom Panama City, FL (FAA’s Southern Region) and Delbert Leroy “Del” Willeford Jr from Phoenix, AZ (FAA’s Southwestern Region). (Attached photo: 2011 Nat’l Avionics Technician of the Year Russ Callender of Houlton, WI) (510 words)
2011 NATIONAL CFI OF THE YEAR: Master CFI-Aerobatic Judy Phelps of Santa Paula, California has been named the 2011 National Certificated Flight Instructor (CFI) of the Year. Bringing a rare but effective feminine perspective to aviation education, she has provided more than 5,000 hours of flight training ranging from primary, instrument, and commercial instruction to tailwheel endorsements, experimental aircraft checkouts, emergency maneuver, spin, and aerobatic training.
Judy and her husband Clay, also a CFI, own and operate the popular and well-known CP Aviation (http://www.CPAviation.com) at Santa Paula Airport (SZP). She runs the flight school side of their business, while he oversees the maintenance side. Their FBO averages approximately 6,000 flight hours per year with pilots coming from around the world to train there.
As a private pilot looking to gain confidence, Judy enrolled in the Emergency Maneuver Training (EMT) Program with fellow MCFI-A Rich Stowell. Her EMT experience proved transformative: Judy chose to devote herself to becoming an aviation educator. Although she spread her private pilot training over a five-year period, she soared through the next set of ratings becoming a CFI in 2003 and a CFII two years later.
Judy freely gives back to the aviation community as a volunteer, a mentor, and an instructor. For example, she sponsors an annual EMT Program scholarship worth more than $2,000 as well as tailwheel training scholarships. She has also hosted an annual judge’s school for the International Aerobatic Club (IAC). In addition, she leads FAA safety seminars throughout California.
Women comprise less than ten percent of the pilot population. But as a role model and advocate for women in aviation, Judy has had a noticeable effect on the number of women learning to fly. Counting Judy, CP Aviation currently has three female instructors on staff, and it’s not uncommon for female voices to outnumber male voices on the radio in the pattern.
A 3-time Master CFI-Aerobatic — the country’s first and only woman to earn that accreditation — Judy’s involvement reaches well beyond the cockpit and classroom. She is a proactive member of organizations such as the Society of Aviation and Flight Educators (SAFE), the Ninety-Nines, AOPA, EAA, International Aerobatic Club (IAC), Women in Aviation, and Rotary. Judy has also competed in aerobatic contests in a Pitts and is an IAC regional judge. She currently serves as president of the Aviation Museum of Santa Paula and is a FAASTeam representative.
Phelps (Judy@CPAviation.com) represented the Van Nuys FSDO area as well as the FAA’s Western Pacific Region. This year’s other regional CFIs of the Year include Cleophas Uriel “Cleo” Hodge of Saint Thomas, US Virgin Islands (FAA’s Southern Region); MCFI-MGI Theodore Alexander “Ted” Matthews of Aurora, CO (FAA’s Northwest Mountain Region); Jonathan Carter Moss from Arkadelphia, AR (FAA’s Southwest Region); Janice Lynn Newman of Rye, NH (FAA’s Eastern Region); Paul Michael “Mike” Wagers from Louisville, KY (FAA’s Central Region); and Therese Catherine Whiting of Ann Arbor, MI (FAA’s Great Lakes Region).
2011 NATIONAL FAA SAFETY TEAM REPRESENTATIVE OF THE YEAR: Master CFI Vicki Lynn Sherman of DeLand, Florida is a teacher, mentor, and aviation safety advocate. As an Aviation Safety Counselor and FAASTeam Representative, she has been involved in the FAA’s safety program since 1992. She works at the FAASTeam’s National Resource Center in Lakeland, Florida, as a video production crewmember, presentation developer, and presenter for the North Florida FSDO and the FAA Production Studios. She is also the owner and president of Aero Supplies & Express, Inc (http://www.Aero-Supplies.net/) located in Daytona Beach, Florida.
During the year as a FAASTeam Lead Representative, Vicki conducts monthly safety programs. She arranges for a wide variety of aviation experts to speak to local pilots. She is a member of the Safety Program Speakers Bureau for north Florida. During the week of the annual Sun ‘n Fun International Fly In and Expo in Lakeland, she serves as a crewmember for the FAA Production Studios.
Her passion for flying comes from her earliest recollections of flight — barely being able to see over the Bonanza’s dashboard while landing on grass strips and viewing Mount Rushmore from a doorless helicopter. After graduating from college, she finally had the time to devote to earning her flying credentials. These include an airline transport pilot certificate and certificated flight instructor (CFI).
Her first aviation job was managing the day-to-day operations at a flight school and fixed base operation. She developed and promoted flight training programs for international students, assisting them with their entry and exit paperwork and finding housing for them during their training.
Vicki has been a lifelong supporter and member of The Ninety-Nines having served at every level of the organization from chapter chairperson to International President. Currently, she is a permanent member of the Board of Trustees for The Bonnie & Archie Gann Scholarship for flight instructor applicants. Representing The Ninety Nines, she has contributed to Sun ‘n Fun, the NASA Aerospace Education Program, and the National Intercollegiate Flying Association.
An advisor for Women in Aviation-Florida First Coast Chapter, she shares the goals of the organization. Vicki mentors other women to attain their objectives in aviation and works to educate young women in the important roles women play in the aviation industry. Numerous boards of directors benefit from her experience including the Florida Association of Flight Instructors, the National Aviation Safety Foundation, the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Board of Visitors, and the National Silver Wings Fraternity. She is a member of AOPA, EAA, SAFE, and Women in Aviation while also serving in the Civil Air Patrol.
Sherman (VickiLynnSherman@cs.com) represented the Orlando/North Florida FSDO area and the FAA’s Southern Region. This year’s other regional winners include Gerald “Jerry” Harris of Wilmington, DE (FAA’s Eastern Region); Mark Edward Hartz of Almyra, AR (FAA’s Southwestern Region); Scott Daniel Johnson is from Eagan, MN (FAA’s Great Lakes Region); MCFI William Henry “Bill” Schroeder of Carson City, NV (FAA’s Western Pacific Region); John Robert Scott of Denver, CO (FAA’s Northwest Mountain Region); and James Edward “Jim” Trusty of Old Hickory, TN (FAA’s Central 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 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), the Aeronautical Repair Station Ass’n (ARSA), and the Aircraft Electronics Ass’n (AEA). 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).