SMYRNA, TENNESSEE – Robert L. “Bob” Carpenter, founder of Carpenter Avionics, an aviation services company based in the Nashville area, has been selected for enshrinement in the Tennessee Aviation Hall of Fame at its annual gala on Oct. 28, 2017, in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
“Mr. Carpenter was a giant in the avionics industry, and he made significant and enduring contributions to aviation,” said Mark Lee, president of Carpenter Avionics. “I never had the privilege to meet him, as he passed away in 2010, though since I acquired the business he founded in 1981, I have come to learn much about his contributions to our industry. We strive each day to perform to his high standards, and we are deeply appreciative of the Tennessee Aviation Hall of Fame for its recognition of Mr. Carpenter.”“Bob had a deep passion for aviation his entire life, and that passion combined with his intellect and drive led him to great achievement,” said Fran Carpenter, Bob Carpenter’s wife of 46 years. “He was a humble person of high integrity. Our family is profoundly moved by this honor, as I know Bob would have been, particularly given that we’ve called Tennessee home since 1981.”
In 2009, Bob was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Aircraft Electronics Association (AEA). He was elected twice to serve on the AEA board as an international officer, secretary and then as treasurer. He also participated in AEA’s successful outreach efforts with Congress that helped lead to the General Aviation Revitalization Act of 1994, a milestone that helped usher in a new wave of innovation and re-start general aviation.
Bob was chosen as Bendix Man of the Year in 1988 and two years later, in 1990, was selected as AEA Member of the Year. In 2006, Bob was selected to receive the Charles Taylor Master Mechanic Award from the FAA.
Perhaps Bob’s most enduring legacy is the leadership role he and a handful of others played to create what is now known as the National Center for Aerospace & Transportation Technologies (NCATT) Certification program for aircraft electronics technicians.
Prior to the creation of the NCATT program, there was no official certification credential from the FAA or the industry that an advanced avionics technician could earn to demonstrate his or her knowledge or to promote the safety, integrity and professionalism in the aerospace workforce.
Bob and his colleagues worked together under the auspices of the National Science Foundation to define and develop these standards.
Today, the NCATT, now affiliated with ASTM International, offers four endorsements and two certifications for avionics professionals, and there are more than 20 distinguished universities and learning institutions set up as NCATT Accredited Training Providers.
ALSO IN THE CLASS OF 2017
SARAH KELLY-ARNOLD: In 2011 Sarah Kelly-Arnold earned the US Soaring Team National Championship and became the first woman in history to represent the USA in a world soaring competition. She has accumulated over 2,200 hours of flight time in gliders and holds CFI, CFIG, CFII Ground ratings. She is also an A& P Mechanic with Inspection Authorization. She was raised on a farm in British Columbia where, at age 13, she learned to fly a single seat Quicksilver ultralight. In 2001 she became enamored with the Chilhowee Gliderport near Benton, Tennessee, and a year and a half later, at 24, she became the youngest owner of any commercial gliderport in the nation.
KEN AND GAIL FRANKS: Ken and Gail Franks own T-Top Airfield, a private, 3,600-foot turf runway near Eagleville, Tennessee. Their lives are dedicated to sharing the adventure and enjoyment of general aviation with others. They host fly-in activities, mentor young pilots, MTSU students and members of the ultralight and general aviation communities. Ken is a co-founder and charter member of the Tennessee Airfield Owners Association.
He initiated and spearheaded a successful effort that resulted in the passage of legislation that provides liability protection to Tennessee property owners who host recreational aviation activities. While serving in the US Navy, Ken Franks earned his private pilot certificate and later added his commercial rating. He became an FAA Air Traffic Controller in 1968 assigned to ATC/Memphis. That career ended with the infamous PATCO Controllers Strike during which 13,000 were fired by the President in August 1981. In January 2017, Ken Franks received the FAA Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award for 50 years of accident-free flying and his contributions to aviation.
JERRY N. KIRBY: Sumner County native, Jerry Kirby, received the FAA Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award in 2016 commemorating 50 years of professionalism, skill, and aviation expertise. Mr. Kirby has performed air shows at EAA’s AirVenture, SUN ‘n FUN, at Tennessee Aviation Days and this year he flew a Swift at The Paris Air Show in La Bourget, France.
Kirby holds a Commercial Pilot’s Certificate, with Instrument privileges, single-engine land & sea, multi-engine, and glider ratings. He is Low-Level Aerobatic and Formation Lead and Wingman qualified. Jerry’s more than 9,000 hours of flight time were logged in part as an owner or co-owner of over 35 aircraft. He once flew a Legend Cub from his private airfield (38TN) near Westmoreland, Tennessee, to Fairbanks, Alaska. Jerry Kirby is a staunch and tireless advocate for aviation. He has introduced more than 425 youngsters to flying through EAA’s Young Eagles Program. In addition to numerous aviation activities, Jerry continues a lifetime of leadership and service to his local community. The Westmoreland Chamber of Commerce recognized him as their “Citizen of the Year” in 2014.