For 50 years, the General Aviation Awards program and the FAA have recognized aviation professionals for their contributions to general aviation in the fields of flight instruction, aviation maintenance, avionics, and safety.
The GA Awards program is a cooperative effort between the FAA and more than a dozen industry partners. The selection process begins each September at the Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) level before moving up to the Regional FAA Office level. From the pool of winners selected by the regions, the national awards winners are chosen by panels of volunteer judges comprised of previous national winners in each of the categories.
Recipients of the 2013 National General Aviation Awards are:
- William T. “Bill” Fifles of Honolulu, Hawaii: Aviation Maintenance Technician (AMT) of the Year
- Bruce Allan Lundquist of Willis, Michigan: Avionics Technician (AVN Tech) of the Year
- Dean Wesley Eichholz of Soldotna, Alaska: CFI of the Year
- Mark Edward Madden of Anchorage, Alaska: FAA Safety Team (FAASTeam) Representative of the Year
FAA Administrator Michael Huerta will present plaques to the winners in July during EAA AirVenture 2013 in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Included in the prize packages for the four National winners is an all-expenses-paid trip to Oshkosh to attend the awards presentation and other special GA Awards activities.
2013 NATIONAL AMT OF THE YEAR: William “Bill” Fifles has been named the 2013 National Aviation Maintenance Technician of the Year. Bill holds FAA certifications in Airframe and Powerplant with Inspection Authorization (A&P/IA), and is a private pilot. He is also a State of Hawaii DOT Airport Vehicle Safety Inspector for ramp vehicles & equipment.
As a kid, Bill remembers losing track of whatever games he and his friends were playing whenever planes flew overhead. His interest in aviation was piqued in 1981 when he did his first skydive. His first flight experience would come at the controls of a Beech 18 jump plane at Jump Hawaii. Bill eventually outgrew skydiving in favor of piloting airplanes instead.
Long after high school, and even though his passion for aviation still remained strong, Bill opened a janitorial business on Kauai. The business evolved into a tour helicopter cleaning and detail company. He also operated the fuel farm for helicopters at Lihue Airport. After Hurricane Iniki devastated businesses on Kauai in 1992, Bill purchased a Piper Cherokee 140 and opened Lihue Aviation Center.
In order to be able to fly, Bill learned to turn wrenches “on the job.” His true career as an aviation mechanic, however, began in January 1997 with the Genavco Corporation. There, he helped maintain a DC-3 as well as a “Super DC-3,” the DC-3S. He also worked at Moloka‘i Air Shuttle maintaining three Piper Aztecs, two Piper Chieftains, and a Cessna 402 under FAR 135.
Bill eventually moved to San Francisco to work for United Airlines on their Scheduled Special Routing team troubleshooting maintenance issues. Returning to Hawaii in 2001, he was hired by Kamaka Air to fill the shoes of his late friend and mentor as the new Director of Maintenance, the position he currently holds. In 2003, Bill led the Kamaka maintenance team, numerous volunteers, and all the students from nearby Honolulu Community College Aviation Trade School, in the restoration and overhaul of N9796N, the Kamaka DC-3S. The project attracted aviation enthusiasts and journalists from around the world and provided the students with practical, hands-on airframe and powerplant training. N9796N took the air in July 2004, and has been flying inter-island cargo runs ever since.
Bill has assisted with maintenance and repairs on a number of interesting aircraft including a Murray Air DC-8-73, Billabong Grumman G-111 Albatross, Seven-Q-Seven Omega’s Boeing 727, and the General Electric B747-100 engine testbed aircraft. In 2009, he was asked by Hawaiian Airlines to oversee the re-assembly and subsequent maintenance of their fully restored 1929 Bellanca CH-300 Pacemaker (NC-251, Serial No.154) as it returned to provide promotional and employee incentive flights over Oahu.
He has assisted with Hollywood productions for TV work on “Lost” and “The Amazing Race,” as well as major motion pictures including “Pearl Harbor,” “Outbreak,” “Along Came Polly,” and “The Rundown.” He has also been involved in many other production and photo shoots.
Bill is currently rebuilding a 1966 Citabria. Outside of aviation, he was Hawaii’s first single male Foster Parent, and had five teenage foster sons from 1991 thru 1996.
Bill Fifles represents the Honolulu FSDO area as well as the FAA’s Western Pacific Region. Other regional AMT winners include Scott Eric Austin of Lawrence, Mich., representing the Great Lakes Region; Bruce Albert Berry of Blytheville, Ark., representing the Southwestern Region; Kenneth Lee “Ken” Gilliland of Clanton, Ala., representing the Southern Region; Leroy Alan Muise of Trenton, Maine, representing the Eastern Region; and Bret Samuel Proud of Englewood, Colo., representing the Northwest Mountain Region.
2013 NATIONAL AVIONICS TECHNICIAN OF THE YEAR: Bruce Allan Lundquist of Willis, Michigan, has been named the 2013 National Avionics Technician of the Year. He holds an FAA Repairman Certificate and an FCC General Radiotelephone License.
Born in Youngstown Ohio, Bruce’s interest in radio and electronics began at a young age as he listened to his grandparents’ AM/shortwave radio. He soon began building crystal radios and stringing up antenna wires all over the backyard, much to the chagrin of his mother. After his family moved to Michigan, Bruce received a pair of walkie-talkies for Christmas, and later bought his own CB radio station and TV with earnings from a paper route. He read everything he could get his hands on about electronics before being old enough to take high school classes in electronics.
Upon graduating from high school in 1970, he began working at Ford Motor Company. Rather than waiting to be drafted into the Army, he joined the US Air Force and started technical school in pursuit of aviation electronics. He returned to Ford four years later, but after a few months, decided that factory life was not for him. He used his military training to return to the aviation electronics field.
After a short stint at Northern Air Service at Coleman A. Young Municipal Airport in Detroit, Bruce obtained his FCC second-class radio telephone operator license and worked at a stereo repair shop. In 1976, he landed a job at Quality Controlled Electronics at Willow Run Airport outside of Detroit. According to Bruce, “This was a real avionics shop. I learned a ton and completely enjoyed working there.”
Bruce then took a job at Pentastar Aviation, Inc. in 1982. It was during this time that he would meet his future wife, Maggie. Also located at Willow Run Airport, Pentastar was a wholly owned subsidiary of Chrysler Corporation. Through all of the economic difficulties that ensued at Chrysler, Bruce worked in the Pentastar accessory shop keeping all of the electrical test stands and mock-ups in good repair. He would eventually work as avionics supervisor, inspector, lead technician, and trainer. Once things settled down at Chrysler, the company once again purchased a few aircraft. It was time to set up a full service, radio class I, II, and III avionics shop, as well as a full service maintenance shop, and Bruce moved into the role of Avionics Systems Specialist.
During the three decades Bruce has been there, Pentastar and Chrysler have been through many changes. The aviation department has undergone several moves and name and ownership changes. Pentastar Aviation is now owned by Edsel Ford II and located at Oakland County International Airport in Pontiac, Michigan. Through it all, Bruce is confident that he will retire out of this place.
Competing with avionics, boating has been Bruce’s other long-time passion. He has been married for 26 years and has a daughter. Bruce Lundquist represents the East Michigan FSDO area and the FAA’s Great Lakes Region.
2013 NATIONAL CFI OF THE YEAR: Dean W. Eichholz of Soldotna, Arkansas, has been named the 2013 National Certificated Flight Instructor of the Year. Dean is an independent flight instructor as well as a designated pilot examiner (DPE) and FAA check airman. He trains and does flight checks in various aircraft suited for the diverse Alaskan environment for Transmountain Aviation, Kenai Aviation Inc. and Talon Air, Inc. He also is employed by Falcon Insurance Agency of Alaska in Soldotna, Alaska and works with his wife as an aviation insurance broker.
Dean uses his previous experience as an aviation business owner who purchased aircraft insurance to advise pilots of all levels. He is a vast storehouse of information on various types of aircraft, carriage of external loads, training requirements, and regulations.
Dean fell in love with flying while watching the Blue Angels perform when he was in grade school. In college, he took out a loan to earn his private pilot certificate. After graduation from Idaho State University with a bachelor of science degree in mathematics, Dean joined the US Navy pilot program. He received his Navy Wings of Gold in 1975 and was selected to fly the A-6 Intruder in Whidbey Island, Washington. He spent his final two years in Pensacola, Florida as an instructor pilot in the T-2 Buckeye and has maintained his passion for flight instruction ever since.
In 1980, after leaving the Navy he obtained his civilian commercial, instrument, multiengine and flight instructor certificates and ratings. In 1983, Dean moved to Soldotna, Alaska, and opened Alaska Flying Network, an FAA Part 141 flight school. The school offered private, commercial, instrument, multiengine and seaplane training. Dean was appointed an FAA Designated pilot examiner in 1987. Pilots in all areas of Alaskan aviation have either been instructed or tested by Dean. He has over 10,000 hours of flight instruction logged and over 18,000 hours flight time. In 1999, Tom Wardleigh and Dean had the honor of instructing the late Alaska Senator Ted Stevens and three of his close friends for seaplane ratings. Dean’s greatest and most rewarding training challenge was instructing a deaf pilot for a seaplane rating in the PA-12.
In 1999, Dean sold the flight school to become an aviation insurance broker and part time independent CFI. Dean was selected Flight instructor of the Year for the Alaska Region in 1990 and received a “High Flyer Award” from the FAA in 2000.
Air safety is another passion for Dean. He was an FAA Safety counselor and is now a FAASTeam representative for the Kenai Peninsula. Since 1991, Dean has served on the board of the Alaskan Aviation Safety Foundation and had served as a Regional Director for the Alaska Airmen’s Association from 1998 until 2003. He is a member of AOPA, The Alaskan Aviation Safety Foundation, The Alaska Airmen’s Association, and SPA and is the AOPA Airport Support Representative for the Soldotna Municipal Airport. For the past three years, he has organized the Alaska Seaplane seminar held each April in Anchorage.
Eichholz represented the Anchorage FSDO area as well as the FAA’s Alaska Region. Other regional CFI winners include MCFI-A Timothy John “Tim” Brill of Reno, Nev., representing the Western Pacific Region; George Patrick “Pat” Brown III of Houston, Texas, representing the Southwestern Region; Luke Andrew Collison of Arvada, Colo., representing the Northwest Mountain Region; Peter Gerard “Pete” Demers of Jupiter, Fla., representing the Southern Region; Lee Stanley Jones of Kearneysville, W.Va., representing the Eastern Region; and MCFI (2003-2007) Linda Hert Langrill of Midland, Mich., represents the Great Lakes Region.
2013 NATIONAL FAA SAFETY TEAM REPRESENTATIVE OF THE YEAR: Mark Madden of Anchorage, Alaska, is the 2013 National FAASTeam Representative of the Year. Mark is currently a Professor of Aviation Technology in the Aviation Technology Division at the University of Alaska. His responsibilities include classroom and individual teaching, student academic and career advising, curricula development and community service. He has earned the Master CFI accreditation three times while maintaining these high professional standards for more than 6 years.
Mark applied for and joined the FAASTeam Safety Program because he “wanted to make a real difference in improving aviation safety in Alaska.” He encourages all aviators to participate in the FAASTeam and WINGS Pilot Proficiency Programs. Mark has been presenting safety seminars as a Lead Representative for the Anchorage FSDO for several years. He has been the organizer and presenter for all the CFI/DPE workshops (FIRCs) in the Anchorage area for more than 4 years and has presented CFI specific seminars since 1999. He participated in the spring 2011 FAASTeam National Safety Stand Down as a speaker, emcee, and organizer.
As a member and officer of the board of directors for the Alaska Aviation Safety Foundation (AASF), he promotes safety in all areas of Alaskan aviation. AASF partners with Public Television and the National Weather Service to produce a weekly TV show in conjunction with the Alaska Weather program. You will always find him in attendance at the Great Alaska Aviation Gathering (formerly The Alaska Trade Show) or the Alaska Aviation Safety Summit sponsored by the Medallion Foundation and Northern Air Cargo.
After earning a BS degree in education in 1973 and an MA degree in Management and Computer Data Management in 1984, Mark began his aviation education journey. He completed an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Aviation Technology in the Pilot Entry Ab Initio Airline First Officer Program at Aims Community College in Greeley Colorado. He is a veteran of the US Air Force and used the GI Bill and scholarships to help fund his education.
In the early 1990s Mark worked as a certificated flight instructor at P. C. Flyers in Denver and as Pilot Training Technical Writer for Jeppesen Sanderson in Denver. After moving to Hawaii, he worked as a customer service representative for Mahalo airlines, a charter pilot for Paragon Air and as a self-employed aviation consultant, technical writer, and instructor pilot.
In 1998, Mark began his tenure with the University of Alaska in Anchorage as a professor of Aviation Technology. He has also been a part time pilot, instructor, and program developer for Empire Airlines, a FedEx Feeder. Mark’s certificates and ratings include airline transport pilot (ATP) certificate with airplane multi-engine land, commercial privileges with airplane single-engine land and sea, and Instructor certificates for CFI, CFII, MEI, AGI, IGI, with tailwheel endorsement. He continues as a freelance aviation technical writer specializing in pilot training publications, video scripts, and production. He flies as a formation pilot for air-to-air photography missions. The owner of a Maule M5-2 10C, Mark has a clean FAA record of no accidents and no enforcements.
Mark serves on the board of directors for the Lake Hood Pilots’ Association since 2012. He is a member of Society of Aviation and Flight Educators (SAFE), University Aviation Association (UAA), Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), and Seaplanes Pilots Association (SPA).
Mark represented the Anchorage FSDO area and the FAA’s Alaska Region. Other regional FAASTeam Rep winners include MAE Gary Michael Brossett of Midland, Ga., representing the Southern Region; Walter Penn Hunnicutt of Bella Vista, Ark., representing the Southwestern Region; Dean Christopher Marshall of East Setauket, N.Y., representing the Eastern Region; MCFI Lynwood Karl “Woody” Minar of Dresser, Wis., representing the Great Lakes Region; William Edwin “Bill” Standefer of Fort Collins, Colo., representing the Northwest Mountain Region; and Arlene Virginia Steier of Omaha, Neb., representing the Central Region.