Each year during the annual AEA International Convention & Trade Show, two prestigious awards are presented.
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. 25 and Dec. 20.
Green Mountain Avionics - Middlebury, Vermont Bill Hanf began his career in avionics in 1990 with the United States Marine Corps. He worked on CH-46 helicopters and developed his technical ability and leadership skills. He served proudly for six years and received an honorable discharge.
As a civilian, he worked for Cessna Citation Service Centers in California and New York, where he became the avionics supervisor. After 10 years with Cessna, he moved back to his home state of Vermont and took a position as the avionics manager for a Part 145 certified repair station with a Part 135 charter operation, where he worked until he opened his own avionics shop, Green Mountain Avionics in Middlebury, Vermont.
He has been the owner of Green Mountain Avionics since 2011. The business started with only one employee and has grown to include nine employees. The business continues to thrive, encompassing two maintenance hangars as well as two company airplanes: a 1964 Beech S35 Bonanza equipped as an avionics demonstrator, and a 1971 Cessna 150L to be used as an avionics demonstrator as well as a primary trainer for company employees interested in pursuing a pilot's license.
Hanf has been an active member of the AEA since prior to founding Green Mountain Avionics and currently serves on the association’s board of directors, the government and industry affairs committee, and the FAA ambassador program.
The relationships he has established through the AEA have made it possible to start his own business and continue to play a major role in its growth and success. Hanf has developed strong personal connections with other industry leaders across the globe, and they provide unprecedented support and guidance to each other. Together with the AEA, they are recognizing industry-wide opportunities and challenges and developing strategies to overcome them.
As a board member, Hanf has been collaborating within the AEA on how to grow the next generation of avionics technicians. He knows firsthand that there is an industry-wide shortage of skilled avionics technicians. To address this problem, the AEA has created an apprentice program that is available to all avionics shops, which Hanf is currently implementing at Green Mountain Avionics.
Hanf is passionate about the avionics industry, and he is driven to see it continue to flourish with combined commitment made possible through the AEA and its membership.
Duncan Aviation – Lincoln, Nebraska
Kevin Miesbach, a 38-year employee of Duncan Aviation, is currently the components/OEM business development manager. In this position, he drives Duncan Aviation’s components repair services toward new business opportunities with OEMs, government entities and new product capabilities.
Miesbach always had an interest in aviation and attended Southeast Community College in Lincoln, Nebraska, to obtain an associate degree in electronic engineering technology. Upon graduation in 1982, Miesbach began his career as an avionics technician with Lincoln Avionics. At the time, Lincoln Avionics was partly owned by Duncan Aviation and provided avionics support to general aviation aircraft like Cessna 182s and Piper Cherokees. Jumping into avionics during that era presented Miesbach with many experiences and allowed him to do everything from avionics system installations to bench repairs and equipment sales to test flights. Familiarity with equipment from the big avionics names of the day, including King, Narco, ARC, Genave and Collins, came fast.
In 1985, when Lincoln Avionics was liquidated, the corporation was transitioned into Duncan Aviation. Miesbach transferred to Duncan Aviation installing new avionics systems on business aircraft such as Citations and Learjets.
Miesbach later joined the components repair team working avionics line and bench maintenance on corporate jets and turbo props repairing HF and FMS systems, VHF navigation and communication equipment of all makes and models. In 1993, he was promoted to nav/comm team leader, and after seven years took over as avionics shop supervisor. He spent 15 years moving from the supervisor role to avionics/instrument shop manager. During this time, Duncan Aviation’s avionics/instrument shop developed and gained a long list of new capabilities that includes FMS, TAWS, digital CVRs, NAT communications and audio equipment, newer weather radars, and gyros. During this time, Miesbach also spent time recruiting qualified technicians to the Duncan Aviation team.
“I have long been interested in education and developing avionics technicians,” Miesbach said. “I have seen the demand for avionics technicians grow over the years, and for more than two decades, I have worked with several avionics and technical schools in the Midwest as an advisor, helping to ensure educational programs are preparing future technicians for the industry. I have also enjoyed promoting business aviation to high school students through classroom presentations and career fairs.”
Miesbach’s first introduction to the AEA was at a regional meeting in Lincoln, Nebraska, in the early 1980s. It was an eye opener for a young technician soon realizing the value the AEA brings to the industry. Since then, he has taken advantage of training and networking and even sponsored training at the AEA Conventions and Connect Conferences.
With strong leadership skills, a wealth of aviation knowledge, and strategic industry relationships, Miesbach has been plugged into industry committees and events representing Duncan Aviation’s component support of helicopter to airline and legacy to cutting-edge equipment. Thinking of the next-generation equipment and technology, he has provided input to ASSURE as it proposed standards for UAS maintenance and also was instrumental in setting Duncan Aviation up in the Robotic Skies service network. Throughout the years, he has supported OEMs and peers with industry feedback.
Miesbach met his wife, Mary, of 29 years while she was working at the front desk at Duncan Aviation. Together, they have three grown children: Nick, Mallory and Andy.
Brazos Avionics - Houston, Texas James E. Miller, who came into aviation late in his career development, first encountered the field after he served three years in the Army as a radio technician in the Republic of South Vietnam. Like many young people who were returning from the war, Miller found it difficult to integrate and find his way; however, he finally settled into a career in aviation.
The road to Miller’s career first began in 1976 when he attended the Spartan School of Aviation in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It was through the school that he received diplomas in avionics, aircraft instruments, airframe maintenance and NDT (non-destructive testing). With three years of education and a degree under his belt, Miller moved to Victoria, Texas, as an avionics technician in sales and service in a Piper dealership. After 18 months of working in the dealership, he had gained enough experience and knowledge to strike out on his own.
Equipped with just a business plan and faith, Miller set out to establish Brazos Avionics Inc. in March 1980. Brazos Avionics was the first African American-owned avionics business in the United States. It was through this experience that he found the road to success to be one that was difficult and challenging, yet also rewarding. Six years after the establishment of Brazos Avionics, Miller hired two additional Spartan graduates and opened his second avionics business in Houston, Texas. Over the course of time, weathering the ups and downs of running his own business, he ultimately felt the need to sell the satellite operation.
Some of Miller’s greatest rewards have come from starting and funding several mentoring programs in Bay City, Houston, and Atlanta. The primary focus of the mentoring programs is based on fostering education to poor, young minorities and female students in the field of aviation. As the chairman of the Houston chapter of the Bronze Eagle Flying Club of Texas, along with the financial support from EDMO and Dallas Avionics, he helped sponsor students from all over the country, who range in age from 16 to 18 years old, learn to fly through the Les Morris BPA Summer Flight Academy.
Miller acknowledges the numerous people and companies who have taken part in the advancement of his career, including the late Monte Mitchell, the AEA’s first president, the AEA board that nominated him as a replacement member on the AEA board of directors for three terms, and the late Frank Pendergrass, Ph.D., a dear friend when Miller served as the first president of the Spartan Avionics advisory board for 12 years.
Miller’s company, Brazos Avionics, has been an active member of the AEA since May 1983.
Jet Avionics - São Paulo, Brazil Marcos Pedrone began working in the business and general aviation industry in 1977 with his father who had been involved in the airlines. In 1983, Pedrone received his degree as an electronics technician. He returned to school and pursed an electronics engineering degree and graduated in 1988.
Pedrone has worked in the business and general aviation industry on small airplanes, midsize jets and turbo props. He and his father worked together for 15 years in their small avionics shop. In 1992, Pedrone’s father retired, and he continued to work in his growing business and always look ahead to new technologies that would help his company grow in the future.
Pedrone’s company, Jet Avionics, has been a proud member of the AEA since 1992. He recalls fond memories of former AEA presidents, Monte Mitchell and Paula Derks. Pedrone was instrumental in the AEA’s first Latin America Connect Conference that took place in São Paulo, Brazil, in 2011.
Susan Windle Beam
Accessory Services Inc.
Susan Windle Beam
Accessory Services Inc. - Anchorage, Alaska Susan Windle Beam grew up in Alaska, where only 20% of the state is accessible by road and makes aviation a vital component for transportation. Aviation in Alaska means people are flying from point A to B, and most materials and goods are moved relying on aviation. Even as a young child, airplanes and helicopters fascinated Windle Beam. When she would hear an aircraft, she would look up to the sky to see what was flying. Living close to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson added to the excitement of military aircraft, as well. To this day, Windle Beam still looks to the sky to catch a glimpse. From small single-engine aircraft, floatplanes, helicopters, heavy cargo jets or the Boeing Dream Lifter, it never gets old.
Because of the closeness Windle Beam felt with aviation, she chose to follow a career in aviation maintenance. Windle Beam attended the University of Alaska-Anchorage and received an associate degree in aviation maintenance and her FAA airframe and powerplant certificates. This led to many great job opportunities, and she was fortunate to learn the avionics trade while employed by Era Aviation that later became Ravn Alaska. Windle Beam has worked for more than 30 years as a technician and manager for Part 145 repair stations.
Recently, Windle Beam was hired by Accessory Services Inc. as the repair station manager. The repair station held Accessory Class 1, 2 and 3 ratings. She has helped the business procure the necessary equipment and personnel to expand those ratings. In early November 2019, the FAA granted additional ratings to the repair station. It now holds Accessory Class 1, 2 and 3, Radio Class 1, 2 and 3, Limited Airframe and Limited Emergency Equipment ratings.
Windle Beam’s first AEA Convention was in 1999 in Atlanta, Georgia. She did not know many members at that time, but the membership was welcoming, the vendors were incredible, and the training was fantastic. She was overwhelmed at how much could happen in a few short days.
She recalled the words of Monte Mitchell, the former AEA President who said, “If you come see the value of the AEA Convention once, you’ll never miss another one.” Over the years, Windle Beam built a strong network of colleagues, and the AEA has played a huge role in that effort. The support that the AEA offers its members, she believes, is unique, ranging from regulatory, training, safety management systems, and equipment sales. Windle Beam believes it would be hard to find greater value on your investment as a member other than the AEA.
While Alaska has only a handful of AEA members, they all work closely to support each other and the association. Windle Beam always encourages companies and repair stations to join at whatever membership category fits, because they will not be disappointed with the quality and support of this organization. Most importantly are the friendships that she has established through the AEA. Windle Beam has been blessed locally, nationally and internationally with incredible friendships and support.
She is thankful that the predecessors who had the vision in 1957 to create a strong organization representing all facets of the AEA’s membership.
Associate Member of the Year Nominees
Avidyne Corp. is a market leader in the design and manufacture of avionics systems for general aviation aircraft. Experienced entrepreneur and pilot Dan Schwinn founded Avidyne in 1994 with the mission of modernizing GA avionics by applying advanced technology in order to improve safety and increase aircraft utility.
“As a pilot and aircraft owner, I was struck by how little GA cockpits had changed over the last 30 years,” Schwinn said. “I saw huge potential to develop a core technology and define a new generation of avionics that improve flying safety.”
Avidyne has a consistent track record of developing innovative, technologically-advanced avionics systems, providing compelling and competitive products for the dealer channel to sell, install and support. Avidyne's extensive avionics product line – including GPS-based flight management systems, VHF navigation/communication systems, digital flight control systems, and a range of ADS-B-capable transponders and traffic advisory systems – provides dealers with a strong and viable competitive product option in the general aviation market.
Avidyne joined the AEA in the early days of the company and continues to be a strong supporter of the association, its programs, and its member dealers. Avidyne actively promotes the AEA and provides technical training for member dealers at the AEA Convention, AEA Connect Conferences, and throughout the year at the Dan Derby Training Center at the association’s headquarters in Lee's Summit, Missouri. Since the launch of the IFD540, and subsequently, the IFD440 and IFD550, Avidyne has made significant investments in the growth of its technical support team, along with the addition of a comprehensive web-based dealer portal and online knowledge base, all designed to provide world-class support to its dealers.
Avidyne's headquarters and manufacturing are in Melbourne, Florida, and the company has additional facilities in Westerville, Ohio, and Concord, Massachusetts.
In 1983, Allied Corporation purchased the Bendix Corporation, founded in 1911 by Vincent Hugo Bendix, and King Radio, founded by Ed King, and combined the two to create the now-renowned BendixKing brand of avionics. In late 1985, the Allied Corporation merged with the Signal Companies to become Allied-Signal. In 1999, AlliedSignal merged with Honeywell and adopted the Honeywell name, while maintaining BendixKing as a brand within Honeywell’s Aerospace business.
In 2011, BendixKing established its new headquarters in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and in July 2019, finalized an acquisition of TruTrak, an industry leader in autopilots for the certified and experimental markets.
Today, BendixKing’s focus is on continued innovation of its products, including the award-winning AeroVue Touch display, while forging new partnerships with the likes of industry leaders Avidyne, JPI, and others to bring the best products of the industry together and offer more options and choices for customers looking to upgrade their aircraft. With the recent acquisition of TruTrak, BendixKing has solidified its commitment to grow.
BendixKing avionics are offered on a wide variety of aircraft in the general aviation market, including single-engine piston and turboprop airplanes, business jets, helicopters and military trainers. Their products are installed and supported globally by a dedicated team of sales professionals and a talented and knowledgeable dealer network, located in North and South America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia-Pacific.
BendixKing has been an active member of the AEA since 1964, hosts several training sessions and often serves as a sponsor at the AEA International Convention & Trade Show, along with participating in the AEA Connect Conferences worldwide.
EDMO Distributors Inc.
In 1971, avionics shop owners Ed Lansberg and Morris Brown identified the need for a dependable avionics distributor in California. They agreed to form a partnership, and EDMO was born. The company soon became the distributor for the renowned manufacturer of avionics test equipment, IFR Systems (once Aeroflex, now part of VIAVI Solutions).
During the next two decades, EDMO became an integral partner for avionics shops and avionics manufacturers throughout the United States and Canada. Wire, cable and installation supplies were quickly added to the growing list of products and services offered.
In 1993, EDMO moved its operation to Spokane, Washington, and within six years built its new headquarters where the business operates today. Since then, the company has grown to be a global supplier to the aviation industry with customers in more than 180 countries. Always looking for a way to better serve the needs of its valued customers, EDMO opened a warehouse in Nashville, Tennessee, in 2017.
For 48 years, EDMO has developed robust relationships with the aviation industry’s most-trusted brands and now represents more than 200 quality manufacturers. The company serves commercial, corporate, military and general aviation customers in the fixed-wing and rotor markets. To accommodate such a wide customer base, EDMO carries a comprehensive range of products, including aircraft electronics, installation and bench supplies, wire and cable, tooling, test equipment, tactical communication solutions, pilot supplies, and ground support equipment.
Since its beginning, EDMO Distributors has enjoyed its status as a member of the AEA. The company exhibits and often sponsors events at the AEA International Convention & Trade Show and the AEA Connect Conferences throughout the year. EDMO has been a member of the AEA since May 1977.
EDMO’s commitment to providing the best service and the largest selection possible has made it a company that customers count on and trust. The company will always stand by its motto: Quality and excellence, whatever it takes. That’s the EDMO way.
Satcom Direct Inc.
Satcom Direct Inc.
Satcom Direct was founded by Jim Jensen in 1997, with the invention of the Global One Number – the first direct-dialing service for aircraft in-flight. Today, SD and its companies provide global connectivity solutions for business and general aviation, military, government, and head-of-state aircraft. The company also provides land mobile services to areas with connectivity limitations. A premier Inmarsat distribution partner, Iridium service partner, and Viasat preferred reseller, SD is also the master distributor of FlexExec.
Since 1997, SD has worked to advance the technology of global connectivity, being first to market with many new capabilities in communications. SD’s industry-leading connectivity solutions are complemented by its divisional capabilities, including SD Avionics cabin router systems.
in 2016, SD acquired TrueNorth Avionics, now operating as Satcom Direct Avionics. Satcom Direct Avionics manufactures numerous cabin and cockpit hardware, including routers, MODMANs, handsets, switches, and hubs for Satcom Direct as well as other companies in the industry. The SDR series of products – the SDR and SDR Gateway – provide the ultimate flexibility in connectivity for the business jet cabin and are built to support the future of airborne communications for owners, operators, passengers and crew. The advanced SDR technology allows for unique customization of the onboard network, so you can tailor your network for your connectivity needs. Features range from simple voice capabilities to complete office capabilities – including popular telephony applications, 4G/LTE communications services, and aviation certified Wi-Fi.
The SDR’s first red label flight was in September 2013, followed by FAA certification in March 2014 on a Lear 60. It was added as an option for new aircraft deliveries by Gulfstream in 2014, Dassault in 2016 and Bombardier in 2017. Today, it is flying on more than 50 different airframes. There have been 12 software version releases on the SDR, with continuous releases planned for the future. These releases have enabled SD value-added solutions to enhance the aircraft network and improve the user experience, including automated WAN failover, Global One IP, and cybersecurity threat monitoring, among others.
SD also offers training classes and technology seminars on industry trends, understanding satellite and airborne connectivity, hardware configuration and troubleshooting techniques – plus SD created the world’s first aviation technology certification, aeroIT. SD’s in-house software engineering team develops and tests new technologies in the company’s on-site connectivity technologies lab. As SD evolves, it remains committed to advancing the industry, exemplified with SD Pro, an integrated flight operations management platform.
The company’s next generation of services help to synchronize the aircraft with the flight department and connect the entire flight operation. SD’s technologies provide an integrated connectivity platform like nothing else in the industry.
SD World Headquarters and primary operations center is located in Melbourne, Florida, with additional office locations in the United States, Canada, U.K., United Arab Emirates, Switzerland, Hong Kong, Australia, Russia and Brazil.
VIAVI Solutions, with headquarters in San Jose, California, is a global leader in both network and service enablement and optical security performance products and solutions. Its technologies contribute to the success of a wide range of customers – from the world’s largest mobile operators and governmental entities to enterprise network and application providers to contractors laying the fiber and building the towers that keep us connected.
In March 2018, VIAVI acquired Cobham’s AvComm and Wireless T&M businesses (formerly known as Aeroflex Test Solutions). These new solutions bring scale and expertise to customers in the 5G/LTE, private mobile radio, tactical military radio, and global air traffic control test and measurement markets. Together, they provide next-generation products and technologies to network equipment manufacturers, communication service providers, civil, government, military and avionics customers.
The VIAVI Avionics Test business, located in Wichita, Kansas, has been supporting the aviation community for more than 50 years, including the early years when it was known as IFR Instruments and JcAIR. The company has a new name, but the same quality products and great people. VIAVI continues to build on its impressive portfolio of instruments, flexible test and measurement solutions by keeping pace with NextGen avionics test requirements of today’s installed systems. Its wide-ranging support facilities ensure that customers always have reliable, high-integrity solutions to meet their testing needs.
VIAVI has been working diligently with the AEA to provide product training at its headquarters in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, and at the AEA Connect Conferences and the AEA International Convention & Trade Show each year. Since 1968, the Avionics Test group has supported the AEA and its members with the most-reliable and user-friendly avionics test equipment for the bench and the ramp and looks forward to the challenges of next-generation testing.