Each year during the annual AEA International Convention & Trade Show, two prestigious awards are presented.
2017 AEA Annual Awards
Each year during the annual AEA International Convention & Trade Show, two prestigious awards are presented: the AEA Member of the Year, which honors an individual from an AEA member repair station; and the AEA Associate Member of the Year, which honors a manufacturer, distributor or service provider.
The winners of each award are recognized by their peers for their service and participation in the general aviation industry and in the association. AEA members are encouraged to honor fellow AEA members by taking a few moments to vote.
To vote, cast your ballot between Nov. 14 and Dec. 2.
San Luis Avionics Inc. – San Luis Obispo, California
Don Dominguez began his aviation career in 1987 with the U.S. Army, training in the U.S. Army Signal Corps as an avionics, navigation, and flight control systems technician, specializing in systems on AH-64, UH-60s and OH-58s.
After his military service, Dominguez worked on general aviation avionics at shops on the Van Nuys and San Luis Obispo airports in California.
In 1998, Dominguez and a partner opened San Luis Avionics Inc., a Part 145 repair station on the San Luis Obispo County Airport. While managing the shop, Dominguez created useful new designs in avionics test equipment, which are manufactured under the name Mobiltech.
In addition to operating an active repair station, Dominguez has developed FAA-accepted training classes and is a representative for the FAA Safety Team, teaching classes locally at FAA-sponsored events.
Dominguez is an avid supporter of the AEA and, for the past several years, has been involved in the creation and implementation of avionics training programs presented at AEA Connect conferences and at the AEA international headquarters in Lee Summit, Missouri.
In his leisure time, he enjoys the outdoors, running, fishing, panning for gold and spending time with his family. Dominguez and his wife have two children.
Cincinnati Avionics – Batavia, Ohio
According to Cincinnati Avionics President Chuck Gallagher, “The best part of my job is the smile on the customer’s face when he comes to pick up his airplane. And then it’s great when I run into one of our customers and they tell me how much they love their panel and how everything is working above and beyond what they expected.”
In fact, customer service is the foundation of Cincinnati Avionics, a wholly owned subsidiary of Sporty’s Pilot Shop, based at Clermont County Airport in Batavia, Ohio. In 1996, Sporty’s Founder and Chairman Hal Shevers had the vision to open a first-class avionics shop on the field. He put Gallagher in charge, and he set out to hire people, create a repair station manual and complete all the countless tasks required of a startup company. Within five years, Cincinnati Avionics had outgrown its original hangar and moved to a larger one at the airport.
When Gallagher graduated from the University of Cincinnati with a degree in mechanical engineering, he said, “It was a tough time to find a job.” He came to Sporty’s in 1993 as assistant plant engineer, and in 1998, earned his professional engineer license in the state of Ohio.
In 1994, Gallagher earned his recreational pilot certificate in eight days. Today, he is a private pilot with multiengine and instrument ratings and believes that being a pilot himself is an advantage when talking to customers.
Gallagher has made it his passion to work with a local A&P school to provide part-time work in the form of internships for students. “They start out thinking they’ll be an aircraft mechanic and find out through the internship how appealing being an electronics technician is,” he said.
Gallagher understands the appeal. “Nothing is ever routine,” he added. “Every aircraft requires quoting to planning work to installation and delivery. It’s always a unique situation, unlike changing engine oil or swapping out tires. Avionics installation allows him and his staff to show off our craftsmanship. We’re proud of our work.”
In addition to attending and being a sponsor of the AEA International Convention & Trade Show, Gallagher recently took part in an AEA roundtable of dealers and manufacturers. He also serves on the dealer advisory councils for two major avionics manufacturers. Gallagher has his eye on the future. “We are excited about new technology, including opportunities in the UAS (drone) field,” he said.
In addition to his work at Cincinnati Avionics, Gallagher serves as the manager of Clermont County Airport. “I’m involved with the county commissioners in terms of airport administration and interfacing with local government to advise on airport improvements and expansion,” he said. Of great importance to Gallagher is to convey the value of the airport to the local community.
Along with his wife, Andrea, Gallagher has a son, Collin, who wants to follow in his father’s footsteps and be an engineer. The family recently visited Ohio State and Purdue as potential colleges. Their daughter, Caroline, has a similar bent. “She is strong in math and science,” he said.
Q.F. Avionics Center Ltd.
Q.F. Avionics Center Ltd. – Red Deer, Alberta, Canada
Bob Marryat had a keen interest in electronics as a youngster. After high school graduation, he attended Southern Alberta Institute of Technology and took industrial electronics. Upon graduation, Marryat was hired by Air Canada to install inertia navigation systems into DC-8s and perform line maintenance at its main base in Montreal, Quebec.
It was interesting work, but he found he wasn’t using his electronic knowledge. So he returned to his hometown of Red Deer Alberta and was hired by Flight-Comm Avionics. Marryat did bench work, installations and line maintenance on a variety of aircraft. It wasn’t long before he became the head technician.
On March 17, 1979, Marryat married his lovely wife, Ann. In October 1979, he opened Q.F. Avionics Center Ltd. at the Red Deer Regional Airport. He began as a one-man shop with his wife taking care of the books.
Q.F. Avionics joined the AEA in the early 1980s, primarily for the equipment exchange program. A fellow AEA member convinced him to attend his first AEA International Convention & Trade Show in Reno, Nevada, in 1985. It made a lasting impression.
After attending the convention, Marryat realized the many other benefits of joining the AEA. Nowhere else could you receive manufacturers training, regulatory training, see the new technology and get a feeling of what was happening in the industry. Throughout the years, the company grew and more technicians were hired, and his wife became the full-time office manager.
Marryat served on the AEA board of directors during the mid-1990s. Attending the annual conventions has resulted in invaluable longtime friendships and has certainly contributed to the success of Q.F. Avionics Center Ltd.
He and his wife have two adult sons. To shorten the winter, Marryat enjoys curling, and during the summer months, most weekends are spent hiking, fishing, camping and golfing.
Sun Aviation Avionics
Sun Aviation Avionics – Vero Beach, Florida
Rick Peavley’s first introduction to general aviation was at the age of 15 when a family friend took him on a flight in his V-Tail Bonanza. Peavley loved the feeling of freedom he felt flying. Unfortunately, the $600 price tag to get a private pilot license scared him away.
Peavley’s aviation career began in the U.S. Navy as an in-flight technician and ground maintenance technician on P-3 Orion aircraft for nine years. After the Navy, Peavley spent 13 years with Air Logistics in New Iberia, Louisiana, a major player in the helicopter industry, and three years with Crescent Airways in Hollywood, Florida. During Peavley’s employment with Crescent, he opened the avionics shop to the local general aviation community. In 1995, Peavley was hired by Sun Aviation in Vero Beach, Florida, as its avionics manager. In 2004, he left Sun Aviation to open Vero Beach Avionics. After 11 years at Vero Beach Avionics, Sun Aviation purchased the assets and hired the staff of VBA. Sun is a Piper service center and general aviation maintenance facility.
Peavley believes his time in helicopters gave him the ability to perform at a high level of safety, and he took that with him to Sun/VBA. Throughout the years, the changes in the avionics industry has fascinated him and led him to strive to provide customers not only with quality modifications, but also innovative customization of their aircraft. Peavley believes he’s not a true aviation enthusiast as much as a technical innovation enthusiast.
Peavley’s first introduction to the AEA was in 1981 while working with Air Logistics. The avionics manager was a huge advocate of the organization. Peavley continued following the AEA while opening the Air Logistics Avionics shop in Anchorage, Alaska, and during his two stints with their joint venture in Cairo, Egypt. While with Crescent Airways, Peavley attended his first AEA Regional Meeting in 1993 and the AEA Convention the following year.
Peavley’s involvement in the AEA has been a highlight of his career. He has worked with many great individuals during his tenure on the AEA Government and Industry Affairs Committee and the association’s board of directors. Interaction with his peers at conventions throughout the years has led him to many new friendships. "Membership in the AEA is like a door through which one has to walk through to see what's available,” he said. “Once you walk through the door, there are many other doors available to you."
Flightstar Corp. – Savoy, Illinois
Greg Vail is the avionics manager at Flightstar Avionics in Savoy, Illinois. He has more than 36 years of experience in the general aviation industry, and he previously served as the general manager of Bloomington Avionics in Bloomington, Illinois. He is a licensed single-engine pilot with instrument endorsement.
Vail was a member of the AEA Strategic Planning Committee before being elected to the association’s board of directors in 2005. He served as chairman of the AEA Government Affairs and Regulatory Committee and spearheaded the AEA Ambassador Program to promote better communications between AEA member companies and FAA Flight Standards District Offices.
Vail also served as vice chairman of the AEA board of directors and was eventually elected chairman, serving in that role from 2010 to 2013. He also has served on a number of advisory boards for various industry manufacturers.
Prior to his life in aviation, he worked for six years in restaurant management. Married with two children, Vail is a native and lifelong resident of Illinois.
2017 Associate Member of the Year Nominees
Adams Aviation Supply Co. Ltd.
Adams Aviation Supply Co. Ltd.
Adams Aviation began operations in 1968 when Ross Adams along with his cousin, Dick Adams, saw a gap in the U.K. market for a trade supplier of general aviation parts and employed Frank Gosling to be the general manager.
Adams first operated out of the basement of a former pub in London’s Hammersmith district, equidistant between Heathrow and Central London. Everything was sourced through AVSCO but quickly, and with the generous help of the Adams cousins, Adams acquired distributorships of its own, with NARCO Avionics being one of the first.
With NARCO – as with a good few distributorships – Adams Aviation was asked to take on the role of exclusively managing the European dealer network. This paid real dividends a few years later when European expansion beckoned. It also gave early, unprecedented access to the AEA members in Europe.
In 1980, the American owners sold their shares as part of a management buyout, making Adams a wholly owned, independent European company. As it expanded its product range and customer base, it relocated to Biggin Hill Airport. This expansion allowed Adams Aviation the facilities to take on more major distributorships. Quickly outgrowing its original building on the airport, in 1992, Adams Aviation built Hunter House, a new facility that housed it for another 18 years.
A major element of its continued growth started in 1995, when it first specifically targeted the continental European market. This was achieved by first hiring a French national, then a Spanish national and a German. This allowed customers in those countries to talk in their native language, with people from the same culture. This investment was such a success that Adams Aviation has extended its territories to include all of the countries in Europe, major markets of Africa and beyond, with 33 sales people covering 10 languages for more than 4,400 regular customers in 42 countries.
Adams Aviation has grown remarkably from its humble beginnings and now occupies the whole of Mercury House, Vulcan Way; a large, purpose-built warehouse and office facility near Biggin Hill Airport, which the company moved into in 2010.
More recently, Adams Aviation added workshop facilities and personnel, first offering EASA-qualified ELT programing and battery-changes and headset repairs, all to ensure the customers’ requirements are satisfied at the earliest point to them, without troubling the equipment OEMs.
Today, Adams employs nearly 60 people, offers more than 135 “must-have” brands, turns over about one-third avionics and instruments, one-third powerplant and accessories, and one-third airframe and pilots’ supplies. Adams Aviation is happy to be a regular partner to customers across all aviation sectors; airlines, military, business aviation, general aviation, the experimental market and almost every European aircraft OEM.
Adams Aviation prides itself on the relationships it has with key manufacturing partners, so many long-term successful relationships and constantly strive to provide supplier innovation – a key to its success and crucial to what it considers as real distribution.
Adams Aviation has been an AEA member since August 1996.
In 1992, two young audio systems engineers at Bose, Don Hamilton and Steve Scarlata, designed the Bose Cabin Entertainment System, the first branded high-end audio system custom designed specifically for an aircraft cabin, at the request of Gulfstream Aerospace.
In 1997, almost 20 years ago, Hamilton and Scarlata became partners and founded ALTO Aviation. Today, Hamilton is the president of the company, and Scarlata is vice president of engineering and research and development. That same year, ALTO Aviation took the responsibility for all existing Bose aviation cabin audio products, including all manufacturing and testing of assemblies, shipping, customer interface and technical support.
In 2000, Bose endorsed ALTO Aviation as the preferred audio system supplier to the business aviation industry. Today, ALTO Aviation proudly continues its leadership in the business aviation industry with a strong commitment to R&D and each one of its partners and clients. ALTO Aviation is one of the premier suppliers of high-end cabin audio systems for business aviation. It offers a complete line of loudspeakers, amplifiers, subwoofers, surround sound systems, a full line of passenger interface controls, and page/chime systems, including stand-alone systems that do not require IFE or CMS support.
The company designs and manufactures the smallest and lightest audio equipment available in business aviation. All systems are designed, engineered and manufactured in the U.S. and distributed to customers worldwide. ALTO Aviation headquarters are located in Sterling, Massachusetts.
The engineering and R&D team is located in Jupiter, Florida, and it has representation in Seattle, Washington; Little Rock, Arkansas; and Germany.
A complete line of state-of-the-art audio systems provides the most powerful and outstanding listening experience to the VIP and all the passengers in the cabin. ALTO Aviation provides strategic product and component solutions. It focuses on easy, retrofit friendly installations. The Onsite Custom Tuning provides each customer with the highest level of sound performance at 40,000 feet.
ALTO Aviation is offered as standard equipment on Gulfstream G650/650ER, G450/550 Elite Series, and G280 models, Falcon F7X, F900, F2000, Embraer Lineage 1000, Legacy 650, Legacy 600, 500, 450, Cessna Citation X, Sovereign, Latitude, and Sikorsky S-92 and S-76. ALTO Aviation audio systems are offered as an integral part of the Honeywell Ovation and Rockwell Collins Venue Cabin Management Systems. ALTO equipment is the preferred choice for after-market/MRO and retrofit installations for all aircraft platforms in business aviation. It has more than 2,000 ALTO sound systems flying the skies. In 2017, ALTO Aviation will celebrate its 20th anniversary.
ALTO Aviation has been an active AEA member since May 2003.
Appareo Systems LLC
Appareo Systems LLC
Founded 13 years ago by Barry Batcheller, an electronics innovator well-known in the agriculture industry, Appareo quickly became a recognized leader in the engineering and manufacture of low-cost innovative avionics solutions. The company is most known for its Stratus products, including industry-leading portable ADS-B receivers and the recently certified 1090ES transponder for 2020 compliance. However, what many don’t know is that Appareo first made a name in the aviation industry by pioneering flight data monitoring for light fixed-wing aircraft and rotorcraft.
The company turned heads at an NTSB hearing by introducing the most compact and lightweight flight data recorder available – a “black box” that fits in the palm of your hand. Vision 1000 is now a standard factory install on all lightweight aircraft manufactured by Airbus Helicopters, and it’s installed on many single-piston aircraft utilized by flight schools.
Appareo’s success in developing cutting-edge technologies is a direct result of the internal commitment to be bold in the pursuit of innovation. However, the company attributes much of its success to the approach of looking through a pilot’s lens. There are many private pilots on staff, starting with executive leadership and extending throughout the engineering and sales teams. This personal connection to aviation infuses passion into every product that Appareo designs, builds and supports.
Appareo continually adds to its portfolio of certified and noncertified aviation products that are sold through a network of 400 authorized dealers. The company employs 180 people across three locations, including a state-of-the-art electronics manufacturing facility. Appareo is an accredited FAA parts manufacturing facility and is ISO 9001:2008 certified. All products are designed, developed, built and supported in the U.S.
An AEA member since 2013, Appareo exhibits, hosts training sessions and often serves as a sponsor at the AEA International Convention & Trade Show, along with AEA Connect conferences throughout the year. The company has earned many awards, including the following:
Flying Magazine – Editors’ Choice award for the second-generation Stratus ADS-B receiver, 2013.
Flying Magazine – Editors’ Choice award for the first-generation Stratus ADS-B receiver, 2012.
Inc. Magazine – Inc. 500 list of the fastest-growing private companies in the nation. Appareo was No. 159 overall and the No. 1 fastest-growing engineering company in the country, 2011.
SAFE Association – M.P. Koch award, in recognition of those who have made significant contributions in the advancement of hardware for safety and survival applications, 2008.
American Helicopter Association – Harry T. Jensen award for outstanding contributions to helicopter safety and reliability, 2008.
Aviation Week & Space Technology – Product Breakthrough of the Year given to the ALERTS software for Flight Operations Quality Assurance, 2007.
Cal Labs Inc.
Cal Labs Inc.
Cal Labs Inc. was started in 1975 by Howard Adam, a retired Air Force meteorologist. A few years later, it was acquired by Johnny and Donna Davis, founders of Dallas Avionics, with the intent to provide value-added services to his aerospace customers. Twenty years later, Cal Labs continues to serve, almost exclusively, the aviation industry with repair and calibration of test and measurement equipment and doing its part to ensure safe skies.
In the beginning, Cal Labs did a lot of refurbishing and repairs for Dallas Avionics back when it was buying and selling entire avionics shops. Additionally, for many years, warranty repairs were done for the avionics test equipment manufactured by IFR, and to this day, Cal Labs is trusted by many with their avionics test sets. Initially, Cal Labs only supported avionics and electronics testers. But today, it specializes in avionics test sets, air data test sets and mechanical tools.
Cal Labs currently has a roster of 11 employees, including seven technicians with a combined technical experience of 212 years and individual experience ranges from eight to 46 years. The technical personnel median experience is 26.5 years. This level of experience allows Cal Labs to handle close to 8,000 calibrations a year while maintaining turn times of less than five days.
Cal Labs is committed to providing superior calibration solutions and dedicated to meeting customer requirements of timeliness and quality. Its primary function is to maintain traceability of measurements and to continually improve the quality of its operations. The Cal Labs quality culture is supported by employee involvement and participation. Everyone is familiar with the quality system and requires adherence to policies and procedure.
Cal Labs Inc. has been an AEA member since 1997. The company supports the industry by participating in advisory boards to several aviation programs. Additionally, it supports the AEA Educational Foundation.
Cobra Systems Inc.
Cobra Systems Inc.
Cobra Systems Inc. started manufacturing its American-made pitot-static adapters and test equipment in 2002. The owners, Mark and Jeanette Wohlford, have dedicated their lives to the aviation industry, as Mark has three different aviation companies that he owns, including Cobra Systems Inc., Chicago Aircraft (aircraft maintenance) and Chicago Jet Group (ground support equipment) based out of its corporate headquarters in Arlington Heights, Illinois.
Cobra Systems has grown into one of the most respected pitot-static tooling companies in the world, and continues to gain new customers both domestically and internationally because it listens to the needs of its customers.
Mark Wohlford started his aviation career in the Army and currently operates an FAA Part 145 certificate in the Chicagoland area. Cobra Systems has been a proud member of the AEA since 2005, and has grown its capabilities to include most general aviation aircraft with the support of many AEA member customers.
From its start in 2001, Latitude Technologies has grown to become a global supplier of flight data, flight tracking, and satellite telephone and messaging avionics equipment and services. According to the company, its SkyNode products are the most versatile and economical-to-operate aeronautical communication devices in the world. The IONode recording and reporting device is the industry’s foremost and most comprehensive advanced data acquisition unit, capable of real-time event and exceedance alerts and automated post-flight wireless data transfer. Latitude equipment communicates to both air and ground-based information systems, through its web-based WebSentinel mapping and Latitude Flight Data Analytics Reports platforms.
Latitude Technologies has invested more than a decade in the research and development of its flight data monitoring and reporting technologies. The first flight data monitoring solution was developed to support the company’s first-generation IONode ION-000 flight data device, which came to market in support of air tankers fighting the horrific wildfires in California during the summer of 2008.
In 2010, Latitude began building the full flight data management program that it offers to progressive fleet operators today. Drawing on lessons learned from earlier work with the IONode system and following extensive research into fleet operator requirements and their issues, concerns, and operational limitations, the company developed and now offers a range of IONode lightweight flight data recording and reporting devices, each designed to meet specific sets of fleet operator FDM, FOQA, ETM and SMS requirements.
Coming from the company’s FDM development efforts, Latitude, today, is an industry leader in comprehensive and cost-effective FDM equipment for both legacy (analog sensor) as well as modern digital data buss equipped aircraft types. Its Flight Data Management systems are automated and unencumbered by user licensed software and can be tailored to fit the needs of all stakeholders in an aircraft operation.
Latitude Flight Data Analytics Reports, the company’s web-based post-flight data processing platform, gives fleet operators immediate post-mission flight data review and flight analysis capability. LFDA supports unlimited concurrent users, allowing access for flight operations, safety services, maintenance, customer service, and other fleet stakeholder groups to do individualized analysis.
Latitude’s market focus is fixed- and rotor-wing regional fleet operators worldwide. The company has customers in more than 40 nations and supports aircraft operating on all seven continents.
Headquartered in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, Latitude has been an AEA member since 2007.