The General Aviation Awards Committee is proud to introduce a few judges who have helped to choose our National Honorees in the past:
Mike Vivion, Chief Judge
The 1998 National FAASTeam Rep of the Year (or Safety Counselor, as it was known then), Mike also received the Fairbank FSDO’s Good Friend Award for activities in safety programs throughout Alaska.
In Alaska Mike was a Wildlife Biologist/Pilot for U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. He instructed in aircraft on wheels, floats and skis. He also served as an instructor for the Dept. of Interior. He served on the Board of Directors of the Alaskan Aviation Safety Foundation and was the Civilian Co-Chair of Alaska’s Civilian/Military Advisory Committee. In 2005, Mike was coordinating the Aviation Program at University of Minnesota, Crookston and was a University of North Dakota check airman. He was appointed to the Board of Directors of Minnesota Pilots Assoc., an organization he helped to found. He is a five time Master Instructor. Now retired, Mike still offers flight reviews, checkouts and mountain flying instruction from his home in Montana.CFI Judges
Jackie Spanitz, CFI Judge
Director of Curriculum Development
Aviation Supplies & Academics, Inc.
As Director of Curriculum Development for Aviation Supplies & Academics, Jackie oversees maintenance and development of the more than 750 titles in the ASA product line and integration of these products into new and existing curricula. These materials are used in all aspects of the aviation training environment, including 14 CFR Part 61, 121, 135, 141, 142 and 147 curriculums, ranging from textbooks and flight computers to software products, and digital and mobile solutions. She has worked with the training and testing associated with airman certification for more than 20 years, and has participated in a number of FAA/Industry Aviation Rulemaking and Advisory Committees (ARC and ARAC), including the Airman Testing Standards and Training Working Group and the Airman Certification Standards Working Group. Ms. Spanitz holds a Bachelor of Science in aviation technology from Western Michigan University, a Masters in Aeronautics Science from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, and Instructor and Commercial Pilot certificates. She is the author ofGuide to the Flight Review, and the technical editor for ASA’s Test Prep and FAR/AIM series, and has written for numerous aviation publications.
William Jeffrey “Jeff” Edwards, CFI Judge
Jeff is the 2003 National Flight Instructor of the Year.
A CFI since 1982, he is a 6 time Master Instructor and a former designated pilot examiner. Jeff’s last tour of military active duty was as an aircraft accident investigator, investigating Navy and Marine Corps accidents around the world. Jeff also served as an accident investigator for McDonnell Douglas and Boeing, investigating civil and military aviation mishaps. He is a doctoral student at St. Louis University researching aviation safety. Jeff is president of AvSafe, LLC providing consulting services to the legal industry. In 2009 Jeff and his wife, Shelby, built a Lancair Evolution. Jeff is a founder and President of the Lancair Owners and Builders Organization, a national type club for Lancair
fliers. He currently serves on the FAA/ industry General Aviation Joint Steering
Committee as a subject matter expert.
Kirby Ortega, CFI Judge
Kirby is the 2002 National Flight Instructor of the Year.
With 30 yrs at Cessna Flight Operations, Kirby was responsible for all piston engine employee flight activities, demonstration and customer training. He is typed in six Citations. Kirby lead the development team, producing the FITS Accepted G1000 Transition Course. With more than 24,000 accident-incident-free flight hours including 14,000 hours as a flight instructor, he is an active flight instructor mentoring pilots in Caravans and Citation jets. Kirby works as chief pilot for Yingling Aviation’s aircraft management program flying a CJ3, CJ1+, Conquests and Caravans. He is also a FAA Designated Pilot Examiner conducting PVT, IR, COM practical exams as well as initial type ratings and FAR 61.58 recurrent checks in the Citation Mustang.ATA Judges
Jeff Gruber, ATA Judge
Jeff is the 2013 District FAASTeam Representative of the Year
Jeff holds an A&P with IA, a PVT Certificate and AAAE Airport Safety & Op’s Specialist. He is currently an Associate Professor at Columbus State Community College in Aviation Maintenance and is owner of a consulting business for aircraft maintenance and litigation. Prior to teaching Jeff was Director of Maintenance for a charter company, Chief of Maintenance for a corporate flight department, and a maintenance supervisor for a fractional ownership program.. Jeff has an AAS in Aviation Maintenance and a BS in Professional Aeronautics. In 2013 he served on the FAA Mechanic Testing and Standards Advisory Committee. He volunteers as a Lead FAASTeam Rep in Ohio and has presented at The Great Lakes International Aviation Convention, Ohio Aviation Maintenance Symposium, Cleveland FSDO IA Renewal, Ohio Airport Association Annual Meeting, and Guest Lectured at the Ohio State University. Jeff served as a subject area expert for the State of Ohio Board of Education for high school standards testing. Jeff also instructs law enforcement in counter-terrorism techniques. He is currently Vice-Chairman at PAMA and Vice President of the Central Ohio PAMA.
Byron Heidorn, ATA Judge
Rick Hestilow, ATA Judge
Rickey D. Hestilow of Arlington, Texas: Rick was selected as the 2015 National Avionics Technician of the Year.
Rick has had a widely varied 40+ year career in the aviation maintenance field, but for the past decade and a half his primary focus has been on achieving professional recognition and “Industry Recognized Technician Certification” of aircraft electronic technicians (AETs). This phase of Rick’s career began when he drafted several grant requests submitted to the National Science Foundation (NSF) which resulted in $1.3 million in funding for the National Center for Aerospace & Transportation Technologies (NCATT). Rick served as the NCATT Program Director, Director of Standards and Certification, and Director of Accreditation. In these roles, he helped develop industry standards for avionics technicians, developed an education and training curriculum for avionics and aircraft electronics technicians, and created a testing program for certification of AETs.
Rick was contacted by ASTM International in 2013 with a request that NCATT become a new Certification Program under the ASTM umbrella. That NCATT/ASTM Program has been successfully accomplished.
Prior to his involvement with NCATT, Rick’s aviation maintenance career included 30+ years as an A&P/IA, a Designated Mechanic Examiner (DME), Director of Maintenance for multiple Part 145 Repair Stations, owner/operator of three FBOs that provided maintenance services, and an instructor at a Part 147 AMT school. He is also the holder of six Supplementary Type Certificates (STCs). Rick has a long association with Tarrant County College in Fort Worth, Texas, where he has taught numerous courses in aeronautical technology and served as Coordinator of Special Projects. email@example.comREP Judges
Adrian Eichhorn, REP Judge
Adrian A. Eichhorn is an airline transport-rated pilot, currently flying for JetBlue Airways. He is type rated in the Airbus 320, Gulfstream IV, III, II, 200, Challenger 604, Cessna 560 Excel and the Aero Vodochody L39. Prior to JetBlue he flew for the FAA, NASA, General Dynamics, and the Washington Redskins.
He is an FAA Gold Seal flight instructor and former Master Certified Flight Instructor (MCFI) and Master Ground Instructor (MGI) with the National Association of Flight Instructors in 2005, 2007 and the Master Instructors LLC in 2010. Adrian has served as a FAASTeam member (former Aviation Safety Counselor) since 1997.
Adrian holds an Airframe & Powerplant certificate with Inspection Authorization (A&P/A). In 1994, he founded Alpine Aviation, Inc. to provide specialized maintenance and repair services for pilots of Beechcraft Bonanza, Baron and Travel Air aircraft.
He has received numerous national awards including being named the FAA National Safety Counselor of the Year in 2001 and most recently the 2016 FAA National Aviation Technician of the Year. He also is the sole recipient of both of the highest honors given by the American Bonanza Society – the M.D. Cashion for Technical Excellence in 2005, and the Airmanship Award in 2008.
Walter Schamel, REP Judge
Walt is the 2004 National FAASTeam Rep, of the Year representing the Southern Region and Orlando FSDO and the 2005 District CFI of the Year representing the ORL FSDO.
Walt has worked as a naval aviator, a Part 141 Chief, a Part 135 PIC, a corporate pilot and a contract pilot for commuter airlines. He’s developed programs and syllabi for colleges and he administered the Florida Airport Licensing Program. He was employed by the FAA from ‘76 to ’01. There he conducted an airport inspection program that included flying to every airport in Alaska; a senior instructor on the Pilot Examiner Standardization Team and Master of Ceremonies, Sun n Fun, FAA Safety Center. He’s also a CAP search pilot; developed check pilot standardization for CAP and was the OKC Wing Commander. Walt is an ATP with Airplane SEL/MEL/SES/MES, Glider and LTA, Hot Air Balloon. Typed in CE-500 and BE-300. Walt is a Gold Seal, Master Instructor, for Airplane SEL/MEL, Glider, Instrument Airplane and Hot Air Balloon. He holds AGI and IGI and is designated by ORL FSDO as a Pilot Examiner. He is a Distinguished Toastmaster.
Mike Collins, REP Judge
Mike, an aviation journalist for more than 25 years, has worked in editorial and in editorial management roles at the
Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) since 1994. Passionate about safety and flight training, he was editor of AOPA’s Flight Training magazine for nearly eight years. He has served on selection committees for several regional and national aviation awards. Today he is technical editor for AOPA Pilot and Flight Training. Collins holds a private pilot certificate with an instrument rating.
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- FST Evaluation Guidelines .pdf
- CFI Evaluation Guidelines .pdf
- ATA Evaluation Guidelines .pdf