AEA Names 2011 Member and Associate Member of the Year

Gunter Hemmel and Garmin honored at Annual Awards Luncheon

RENO, Nev., March 24, 2011 — Each year during the AEA International Convention & Trade Show, two prestigious awards are presented at the AEA Annual Awards Luncheon: the AEA Member of the Year, which honors an individual from an AEA regular member company; and the AEA Associate Member of the Year, which honors a company that is an AEA associate member.

Two nominating committees – comprised of AEA member representatives, including the previous year’s winners – were created to prepare a slate of nominees for the annual awards. Once the slate of nominees was assembled for both awards, it was sent to the full AEA membership for a vote. The winners of each award are recognized by their peers for their service and participation in the industry and in the Association.

The nominating committee assembled a list of individuals for the AEA Member of the Year Award who are actively involved in the affairs of the AEA, and have gone above and beyond to promote the general aviation community. The AEA Associate Member of the Year Award nominating committee identified a list of AEA associate member companies actively involved in the affairs of the AEA, and recognized for their service and support to its dealers and the general aviation electronics industry.

The 2011 winners were announced on March 24 at the annual AEA Awards Luncheon. The honorees are: Gunter Hemmel of Avionik Straubing GmbH, who was named the AEA Member of the Year, and Garmin, which was chosen the AEA Associate Member of the Year.

2011 AEA Member of the Year: Gunter Hemmel
Gunter Hemmel becomes the first European named AEA Member of the Year. An active member of the AEA, his company, Avionik Straubing, has been a long-time AEA member, and he serves on the AEA Europe Technical Advisory Committee.

Since 1970, Hemmel has been engaged in aircraft electronics. He founded his first company in Munich, called IFL, and received his license as certifying staff. In 1977, he founded his own avionics shop, Avionik Straubing.

The company is located at the Straubing-Wallmuhle airfield in Atting. He began with three employees, continuing with the establishment of the GmbH in 1986. The company is led by Hemmel and his wife, Iris, whom he married in 1978.

Together, they have built the company to become one of the largest avionics companies in Europe with international clients. The company also has established a reputation in the military sector. Helicopters of the German army are flying with products which he develops.

Hemmel is well known throughout the AEA European region, and he attends the AEA Europe Regional Meeting every year, as well as the AEA International Convention & Trade Show in the United States. Today, the staff of Avionik Straubing has reached 50 employees.

The 2011 AEA Member of the Year nominees were:

  • Don Dominguez, San Luis Avionics, San Luis Obispo, Calif.
  • Gunter Hemmel, Avionik Straubing GmbH, Germany.
  • Arnold Hill, Des Moines Flying Service, Des Moines, Iowa.
  • Fabian Oyarbide, Redimec SRL, Argentina.
  • Rick Peavley, Vero Beach Avionics, Vero Beach, Fla.

2011 AEA Associate Member of the Year: Garmin
Garmin is the recipient of the 2011 AEA Associate Member of the Year Award, a visionary in the field of global positioning system technology.

When GPS technology was still in its infancy, Garmin’s founders envisioned a wide range of products that would help pilots, mariners and consumers pinpoint positions and navigate to destinations.

In 1989, Gary Burrell and Dr. Min Kao formed a company to carry out their vision. Their company’s name is a combination of the founders’ names.

Gary and Min thought GPS was going to change the face of navigation. Garmin’s goal, as it was then, remains simple: To create navigation and communication devices that can enrich its customers’ lives.

Garmin entered the aviation market with the GPS 100, a panel-mounted receiver targeted to aviation, marine, military and survey.

Over its 21-year history, Garmin has continued to bring many innovative and market “firsts” to the aviation industry.

In 1991, the company introduced the world to the GPS 95, the first portable GPS with a moving map. In 1994, the GPS 155 panel-mount unit was the first GPS receiver on the market to receive full FAA certification for IFR approaches.

In 1998, Garmin introduced the GNS 430 that integrated GPS, COM, VOR, LOC and glideslope into a compact package with a full-color moving map – all for less than $10,000. The G1000 all glass cockpit followed in 2003, and it’s now the cockpit of choice on over 30 aircraft models by more than 10 aircraft OEMs.

In 2006, Garmin announced WAAS certification for the GNS 400/500, which gave pilots access to hundreds of additional airports. In 2009, Garmin introduced more than a dozen new aviation products that spanned from light sport aircraft to high performance jets, including, the G3000, a fully integrated touchscreen cockpit for Part 23 turbine aircraft; and the G500, an all-glass cockpit for Part 23 Class I/II aircraft models that has been certified for retrofit on nearly 600 aircraft models and has advanced features like synthetic vision. In 2010, Garmin announced the G5000, its first integrated flight deck for the Part 25 aircraft market.

Garmin unveiled the GTN 650 and GTN 750 series touchscreen avionics earlier this week at the AEA convention.

Today, with more than 8,000 employees and 20 offices worldwide, Garmin is a global leader in GPS.

Since its beginning, Garmin has been an active member of the Aircraft Electronics Association. Gary Kelley, Carl Wolf, and currently, Matthew Harrah have served on the AEA board of directors.

Garmin sponsors an annual AEA Educational Foundation scholarship and supports the Foundation through significant donations to the annual silent auction. 

Dealers count on Garmin to provide training classes at every AEA regional meeting in every corner of the world as well as at the annual international convention each year.

They are one of the few AEA associate member companies who have been recognized by its dealers twice before as the Associate Member of the Year, in 1994, and again in 2000.

For their innovative products and customer support, dealers are saying thank you to Garmin as their selection for the 2011 AEA Associate Member of the Year Award.

The 2011 AEA Associate Member of the Year nominees were:

  • Flight Display Systems, Alpharetta, Ga.
  • Garmin, Olathe, Kan.
  • Mid-Continent Instruments, Wichita, Kan.
  • PS Engineering, Lenoir City, Tenn.

Members of the Media:
A high-resolution photo of Gunter Hemmel and the Garmin logo are available by contacting Geoff Hill at


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Founded in 1957, the Aircraft Electronics Association represents nearly 1,300 member companies in more than 40 countries, including approved maintenance organizations specializing in maintenance, repair and installation of aircraft electronics systems in general aviation aircraft. The AEA membership also includes manufacturers of aircraft electronics equipment, instrument repair facilities, instrument manufacturers, airframe manufacturers, test equipment manufacturers, major distributors, engineers and educational institutions.