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.
Thom Duncan Avionics – Fayetteville, Tennessee Thom Duncan is the founder and owner of Thom Duncan Avionics LLC, started in December 2018.
Duncan has worked in the avionics industry for over 30 years. His avionics career started in 1991 with a longtime AEA member company. Over the years, Duncan has participated in training provided by the AEA in online form and in-person classes. Shortly after forming his own company, Duncan applied for AEA company membership. Becoming an FAA Part 145 repair station was a requirement to become a repair station member, and Duncan quickly progressed through the repair station approval process thanks to available AEA resources and training. Within one year of forming his company, Thom Duncan Avionics LLC became an FAA Part 145 repair station.
Duncan has had a lifetime love for powered flight and electronics. As long as he can remember, Duncan has had a fascination with airplanes. When he was 18 years old, a schooling opportunity presented itself to learn aircraft electronics. Combining both aircraft and electronics, Duncan doesn’t call what he does work.
He considers himself a late bloomer. Duncan always wanted to work for himself. After surviving a heart attack in early 2018, the fear of starting a business quickly vanished.
Park Rapids Avionics
Park Rapids Avionics – Park Rapids, Minnesota
Tom Hass grew up on a farm in rural Minnesota, 3 miles from the airport watching airplanes come and go. This piqued his interest in aviation. Hass took flying lessons in high school, and he currently has a private pilot license, single-engine land, single-engine sea and multi-engine land ratings. Hass has a passion for flying seaplanes.
In 1991, he enrolled in an avionics technician program at Alexandria Technical College and received an associate degree in 1993. Hass began his career at a small avionics shop, Robertson Aircraft in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Jetsun Aviation in Sioux City, Iowa, followed where Hass was an avionics bench technician. He troubleshooted aircraft avionics systems and performed repairs and installs for new avionics.
In 1999, Hass was hired by Silverhawk Aviation in Lincoln, Nebraska, to start and manage an avionics shop/department. In 2001, Hass founded Park Rapids Avionics as a one-man shop in Park Rapids, Minnesota. He acquired Approach Systems in 2006 and rebranded as Approach Fast Stack. This provided a global presence in retail sales of avionics wiring systems and new over-the-counter avionics sales. Park Rapids currently has six avionics technicians and six wiring harness builders.
Park Rapids Avionics has been an active member of the AEA since 2001. The company participates in the AEA International Convention & Trade Show and has received the AEA Avionics Training Excellence Award the last 14 years.
McCreery Aviation – McAllen, Texas Bryan Potyk began his career in aviation in 1988 with the United States Navy as an aviation fire control technician on the F/A-18 Hornet. His first duty station was Naval Air Test Center at Strike Aircraft Test Directorate. At Strike, he was involved with support and upkeep of the F/A-18 Night Attack Hornet and F14D Super Tomcat. After Strike, he joined Strike Fighter Squadron VFA-37 as a flight deck troubleshooter and integrated weapons team leader for workups and deployments on board the CV-67 John F. Kennedy and CVN-69 Dwight D Eisenhower. During these years, he developed his technical abilities, attention to detail and leadership skills. He departed the Navy in 1997 with an honorable discharge.
Upon departure from the Navy, he went to work at Ahr Avionics in San Antonio, Texas, as an avionics installer working on a variety of aircraft, from Mooneys to Boeing 707s, and performing various avionics modifications. Some notable accomplishments during this time have been complying with the TAWS mandate on John Travolta’s Boeing 707, performing several custom avionics retrofits to various World War II aircraft to include P38 Glacier Girl, several F7F Tigercat cockpit refurb/upgrades and the demilitarization of a CF-5D Freedom Fight for civilian use/exhibition. Through his tenure at Ahr Avionics/Ahr Aviation, he went on to become the avionics installation supervisor and eventually general/accountable manager.
Through the years, Potyk has developed strong relationships all over the globe and specifically on both sides of the Texas/Mexican border. He has traveled to Spain, Bolivia, Mexico, South Africa and Colombia to perform avionics service and modifications. The endeavors required meticulous planning and logistics with only a limited number of days to perform and complete the work.
In December 2016, Potyk joined McCreery Aviation in McAllen, Texas, as the avionics manager, where he has worked to revitalize the avionics department with new capabilities and grow new business. McCreery Aviation celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2021.
As a developing avionics technician, the AEA has played a paramount role in his success. At the 2000 AEA Convention in Reno, Nevada, Potyk was awarded one of the pilot scholarships to pursue his private pilot license. This accelerated his knowledge and expertise in troubleshooting by allowing him to operate and see the avionics equipment being used. The training and networking opportunities afforded by the AEA at the annual convention and Connect Conferences is invaluable.
Potyk married Teresa Diane Potyk in 1992, and they have three grown sons: Noah, Aaron and Jakob. Aaron Potyk is following in his father’s footsteps and is well on his way to becoming a respected avionics technician at McCreery Aviation since 2020. Potyk’s mantra is, “The only way to do great work is to love what you do.”
Temple Electronics – Arcola, Texas James Temple started working in the business and general aviation industry when he was just 13 years old. He worked alongside his father, Marshall Temple, who founded Temple Electronics in 1973.
Temple began working during his summer school break in 1976. He was the “gopher” and cleaned up around the shop. When he turned 16, James began building install lash-ups (marking wires and populating connectors). Two years later, at age 18, he began engineering and performing simple installations from start to finish. In his early 20s, he attended almost all the Honeywell, BendixKing and Universal Avionics training classes to receive as much education as he could. He also began bench working nav/comms and autopilots, flight line AP systems, and all avionics systems. By the late 1980s, he was running Temple Electronics with help from his father’s guiding hand.
In 1993, Marshall Temple retired, and James Temple has carried on his father’s legacy by continuing to grow the business and always looking ahead to new technologies that will help the company advance in the future.
Temple Electronics has been an active member of the AEA since the company opened in 1973. Temple Electronics sponsors the Marshall Temple scholarship through the AEA Educational Foundation.
Eagle Avionics – West Columbia, South Carolina Andy Zeigler began his career in general aviation in 2004 as a line service representative for Skyward Air Service in Seymour, Indiana. Skyward Air Service was a full-service FBO with fuel, and aircraft maintenance. Zeigler showed mechanical and electrical skills to owner Matt Lykins while working on the fuel trucks. With these skills, he transitioned into helping the A&P mechanics work on the airplanes in for maintenance.
In 2005, Skyward Air Service started a Part 145 repair station for avionics. At this time, a retired Air Force avionics technician was hired to run the avionics shop, but he abruptly retired leaving Lykins without an avionics technician. After having a hard time finding a technician, Lykins turned in-house for a technician and discovered Zeigler had an abundance of electronic and electrical experience from his days in vocational electronics classes in high school and college. Zeigler’s boss offered him a position as an avionics technician.
For his first avionics installation, he had to install a full stack of Garmin equipment in the radio stack of an old Piper Aztec. Lykins ensured he had all of the current manuals printed so that Zeigler could research the project and study it before beginning. After studying the manuals, he ordered all the installation supplies needed. Then came the time to begin the project. Zeigler sat in the Piper Aztec and looked around at all the old equipment he would have to remove, and the intimidation factor set in. He wasn’t sure where to begin. After staring for a bit, he took the plunge and began to figure out how to take radios and instruments out of the panel and began removing wire. It took him a long time to finish this project since it was his first avionics installation. When all was said and done, Zeigler powered everything up and no smoke came rolling out from behind the instrument panel. After he had everything programmed and tested, he had discovered that everything worked as it should.
After that first successful installation, Zeigler would continue to grow and develop his skills and knowledge of avionics. He worked for Skyward Air Service as the lead avionics technician until 2009, when he was offered a position at Eagle Avionics (a one-man shop) as the manager and chief inspector in Columbus Indiana, his hometown. He took the position in February 2009 and continued to work and help grow the business until he purchased Eagle Avionics from Bob Voelz in December 2011, and he still owns and operates it to this day. Zeigler has expanded the business tenfold since then. He also moved Eagle Avionics twice since 2011 as the business continued to grow. Since 2018, Eagle Avionics has been located in a much larger state-of-the-art facility and has had as many as four full-time employees at one time.
Associate Member of the Year Nominees
Anodyne Electronics Manufacturing Corp.
Anodyne Electronics Manufacturing Corp.
For over 10 years, Anodyne Electronics Manufacturing Corp. (AEM) has provided customer-driven solutions to the aviation industry with the design, development and manufacture of avionics products. AEM began after the closure of Northern Airborne Technology, and it takes pride in its origins, while also continuing to grow as an industry leader within the avionics field.
While AEM is most recognized for its external loudspeaker systems, it’s also known for next-generation caution warning panels, illuminated panels and keyboards, audio accessories and contract manufacturing services. Dedicated troubleshooting, repair and refurbishment services complement AEM’s product lines, providing customers with a reliable resource for their avionics needs.
Through its global network of dealers and distributors, AEM customers can be assured they are receiving the highest level of knowledge, service and installation advice. The relationships with its dealers and distributors are extremely important. Beyond AEM’s reputation for quality products, it is proud of the timely and comprehensive support provided to this network.
In 2021, with the acquisition of the Eagle Audio Division, AEM is continuing the legacy of the flagship P139-HD Digital Audio System and custom avionics consoles for the AS350/H125 aircraft, as well as dimmer power supplies, audio mixers and power converters. With its rich history in audio system design and being an approved supplier for many of the industry’s leading aircraft manufacturers, airborne audio is a logical vertical for AEM’s ambitious goals.
As AEM looks toward the future, it is focused on continuing the legacy of industry-leading special-mission audio systems and complementary accessories used by multiple high-profile operators in a variety of mission profiles. AEM is preparing for growth and investing in the future by moving to a brand-new 40,000-square-foot production facility in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada, where the team of 90-plus skilled professionals will continue to execute the mission and lead by design.
Dallas Avionics Inc. was founded in 1973 as a wholesale distributor of aircraft electronics, installation supplies, and avionics. Through years of change in the aviation industry, the one constant is Dallas Avionics’ commitment to the highest standards of business ethics, integrity and customer service. Today, Dallas Avionics provides the newest, most-innovative products to law enforcement, Department of Defense, border patrol, military, air medical, search and rescue, and special-missions operations that fly both fixed-wing and rotorcraft. Dallas Avionics distributes some of the best original equipment manufacturers' products made by companies worldwide that include communication radios, public address systems, flight tracking, flight data monitoring, test equipment, and other mission-critical devices. For more than 40 years, Dallas Avionics has been a premier single source supplier for some of the most-accomplished avionics shops, agencies, government operations, law enforcement units, EMS operations, and civil operations worldwide.
Before the formation of Dallas Avionics, Johnny Davis, Dallas Avionics’ founder, worked for the M. Hutton Company, previously an associate member of the AEA. When Davis started Dallas Avionics, he knew that being part of the AEA was vital to the success of the newly formed Dallas Avionics company. His wife, Donna, daughter Sally, and son Scott quickly became part of the company. More than 40 years later, Donna, Sally and Scott remain part of Dallas Avionics.
Johnny Davis served as an associate board member for many years. His business principles and ideals helped many integrators, avionics suppliers, and other companies succeed. He and Dallas Avionics constantly helped others by extending credit, assisting with technical issues, and providing equipment. In 1978, Dallas Avionics added Cal Labs. In 1988, the company also added Radio Masters. The two Dallas Avionics-owned companies continue to provide vital support and repair of avionics and communications equipment to this day.
The company maintains the same standard of excellence and business practices for helping others. When Johnny Davis passed, the family helped form a scholarship in his name to help AEA members with continuing education and other needs. The scholarship continues to this day.
Today, Dallas Avionics has approximately 5,000 customers in more than 100 nations. Dallas Avionics has a highly skilled professional team both inside and outside the office. Many team members have more than 30 years of military and civilian aviation experience. Multiple Dallas Avionics employees have more than 30 years of experience with the company alone. With the continuity of team members, commitment to hard work, customer service, and industry support, Dallas Avionics remains one of the most influential avionics companies in the world and remains a constant supporter of the AEA. Dallas Avionics has been a member company since 1974.
From inception in 1989, Garmin has served the avionics market with innovative, high-quality and cost-effective solutions. It is proud to be a leading provider of retrofit, forward-fit, and safety-enhancing avionics equipment for the general, rotorcraft and business aviation markets. Its expansive product portfolio includes navigation, communication, surveillance, flight control, in-flight hazard avoidance, situational awareness and aviation services solutions. Garmin is privileged to have, and has always been committed to, a vast and experienced authorized dealer network comprised of AEA member companies – generating jobs and sparking small business. Together, we serve our mutual customers with professionalism, integrity and respect. Garmin is honored to be considered for AEA Associate Member of the Year Award.
It all began in a small garage in Satellite Beach, Florida, in 1997. Jim Jensen had an idea to better serve customers in the business aviation community. This idea would ultimately revolutionize aircraft communications. If we could pick up a telephone and call anyone direct, why wasn’t it possible to do the same with an aircraft in-flight? After many months of long nights and weekends working in his garage, Jensen pioneered the technology that enables direct dialing an aircraft while in-flight using its own unique telephone number. The Global One Number was born, Satcom Direct Inc. was established, and Jensen received his first patent in 1999. Jensen’s passion to create connectivity solutions didn’t stop there. His vision led him to connect with others, and he established SD Communications and began offering airborne internet to customers in 2003.
Fast-forward to today, SD now has 16 locations throughout the world. SD’s proprietary technologies span business aviation, maritime, defense and telecommunications sectors with the singular goal of leading connectivity industry standards.
Harnessing a powerful combination of tools, SD delivers consistent, reliable connectivity across the globe. Proprietary software, hardware, terrestrial infrastructure, cybersecurity solutions and award-winning customer services create tailored data services for each individual customer mission to enhance the passenger experience, improve efficiencies and give back precious time.
VIAVI Solutions is a global provider of microelectronic and test and measurement systems, instruments, and solutions for the commercial broadband communications, aerospace, and defense markets. VIAVI supports customer’s research and development, product validation, and manufacturing in aerospace, satellite communications, wireless, radar, RF, and microwave industries through its components, equipment, software, systems, and services.
While VIAVI Solutions is a relative newcomer to the avionics test market, its products are firmly rooted in a history of successful avionics test systems. This pedigree includes well-known names such as IFR, JcAIR, Goodrich, Aeroflex, and Cobham, where the company established many of the technologies used today.
Founded in 1968 in Wichita, Kansas, IFR created specialized aircraft instruments and test equipment. While under the leadership of one of IFR’s founders, Fred Hunt, the company became involved with the AEA. In 1971, the company refocused and concentrated on avionics test equipment, and in 1975, a radio communications test set was developed, which set into motion a significant push into the wireless test equipment market.
During this time, another company, JcAIR Test Systems, was making its name as a leading provider of RF products and test equipment for the aircraft data bus and fuel gauging systems and automatic test equipment for general purpose applications.
Between 2002 and 2005, Aeroflex, a company with 65 years of experience with communication analyzers, test sets, radio receivers, amplifiers, and signal generators, purchased the IFR and JcAIR lines. The purchase gave Aeroflex leading products and access to both commercial and military avionics test markets.
In 2014, Aeroflex was acquired by the U.K.-based aerospace company Cobham, which later sold off the Avionics and Radio Test division to VIAVI Solutions in 2018.
VIAVI Solutions continues to build on an impressive portfolio of instruments and flexible test and measurement solutions with the release of the AVX-10K. Wide-ranging support facilities also ensure that customers have reliable, high-integrity solutions to their testing requirements for many historical and modern brand names.
Founded in 2006 by Jerome Pepin, WBParts has become an industry leader in the aviation industry. Headquartered in Palm Bay, Florida, WBParts serves as a parts distributor for major aerospace and defense contractors such as Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and Boeing. In 2016, WBParts saw an opportunity to expand in the general aviation community by introducing lean six manufacturing practices to light-sport aircraft OEMs, which led to the creation of WBParts Express. WBParts created the Express division to design timesaving hardware kits that decrease build time for LSA builders.
WBParts Express became an AEA member in 2017 and brought those same lean six practices to avionics shops. In 2018, WBParts Express released the Aircraft Maintenance & Inventory software system. AMI is a free work order management solution that allows AEA members to fully automate their shop with a paperless, cloud-based operations/management system. AMI users are saving tens of thousands of dollars annually and are utilizing a platform that provides the visibility and shop controls necessary to grow their business – quite literally, allowing "small shops to do big things." With feedback from AEA members, AMI has become one of the most-exciting software systems in the aviation maintenance community. Currently, several AEA members are providing training and implementation services to other members.
Also released in 2018 was the Express Avionics Hardware Cart System, which saves up to 10% of technician labor hours by providing just-in-time shop consumables on the hanger floor – no more walking around the facility rounding up consumables. Headed up by Jaramey Ham, WBParts Express continues to help avionics shops be more productive and profitable by sharing his expertise in lean six practices. WBParts Express has developed two new test systems with guidance from AEA members. The Express Pitot-Static Test Cart and the XPS Test Cart are designed to simplify the 91.411 and 91.413 processes by including an air data tester, ramp tester, hoses, adapters, and an RVSM manifold for easy leak detection. WBParts Express is currently working on integrating the software from the test equipment in these carts with the AMI software to generate the 91.411 and 91.413 forms automatically.
Ham also offers classes at the AEA International Convention & Trade Shows and AEA Connect Conferences on how to increase profits without increasing overhead. He also regularly visits (and sometimes cooks for) classes at the AEA's headquarters in Lee's Summit, Missouri. Still, as his customers already know, AEA members can reach out anytime for advice.
Being an active member since 2017, WBParts Express has continually supported the AEA's mission by being committed to enhancing the profitability of its members. WBParts Express regularly exhibits and offers training classes at the AEA Convention and AEA Connect Conferences.