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FAA announces 2016 General Aviation Award winners

The FAA will honor a flight instructor and an aviation technician from Virginia, and an FAA Safety Team representative from California with awards for their outstanding contributions to aviation.

As recipients of the FAA’s 2016 National General Aviation Awards, Robert James Hepp, a CFI from Fairfax Station, Virginia; Adrian Allen Eichhorn, an aviation technician from McLean, Virginia; and Richard Lawrence Martindell, an FAA Safety Team member from San Diego, will receive plaques at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, in July, where their names will be inscribed on a large perpetual plaque located in the lobby of the EAA Museum.

Hepp, the 2016 National Certificated Flight Instructor of the Year, was an army field artillery officer for 21 years who now owns and operates Aviation Adventures LLC, the largest non-university Part 141 flight school in the Mid-Atlantic region, said the announcement of the awards. Aviation Adventures operates from four Virginia airports, and operates more than 40 aircraft. Hepp has pioneered the use of simulators and advanced flight training devices in training programs. The company established and operates the aviation program at George Mason University, and was selected by Liberty University as the first of more than 40 flight training affiliates in its aviation program.

The FAA noted that Hepp “developed the Rusty Pilot Program and then worked with AOPA to bring that program to a nationwide audience of pilots. In recognition of Bob’s important contributions to the flight instruction community, AOPA presented him with its Outstanding Flight Instructor of the Year award in both 2013 and 2014. Bob’s school and instructors are repeat winners of AOPA’s Flight Training Excellence Awards.”

Look for Eichhorn, the 2016 National Aviation Technician of the Year, in his hangar at Manassas Regional Airport working on his Beech P35 Bonanza when he is not flying an Airbus for JetBlue, the announcement said. He graduated from Michigan Technical University with a degree in civil engineering and was commissioned as an army officer, serving 21 years with the Corps of Engineers. He learned to fly while stationed in Korea, and later earned his private, instrument, commercial, ATP, CFI, and ground instructor tickets, and developed his interest in aviation maintenance. He overhauled his Bonanza’s engine, installed a new avionics stack and interior, and replaced most of the sheet metal on the wings and fuselage, earning his A&P mechanic certificate and inspection authorization in the process.

Eichhorn conducts numerous owner-assisted annual aircraft inspections, has inspected and approved more than 60 major alterations, and conducted more than 40 pre-purchase inspections. He developed and obtained supplemental type certificates for gear-mounted landing lights and wingtip recognition lights for Bonanzas, Debonairs, Barons, and Travel Airs, according to the award announcement. He was also “the guiding light behind the maintenance training portion of the original Beechcraft Pilot Proficiency Program (now Beechcraft Pilot Training), providing maintenance instruction to more than 2,500 owners and pilots of Bonanzas, Debonairs and Barons in some 20 different venues throughout the United States.”

Eichhorn is a prolific author about general aviation maintenance, and has made appearances at numerous major GA events including EAA AirVenture, AOPA Expo/Summit and the AOPA Regional Fly-Ins, with The Ninety-Nines, and at the American Bonanza Society’s annual conventions. His latest Bonanza project is a solo round-the-world flight to be completed prior to EAA AirVenture 2016.

Martindell, the 2016 National FAA Safety Team Representative of the Year, works for King Schools as vice president for course content and experience, supervising four CFIs and a graphic artist for all King Schools aviation courses. He also is the Wings Program coordinator for King Schools, where he validated 1,500 requests for Wings credit in the past 12 months.

A former Air Force fighter pilot and instructor, he retired as a lieutenant colonel, having earned the Distinguished Flying Cross, five Meritorious Service Medals, 11 Air Medals, and three Combat Readiness Medals, and logged 323 combat sorties in the F-4. As the lead representative of the FAA Safety Team in San Diego, Martindell often speaks throughout the region at EAA chapters, flight schools, flying clubs, and airport businesses, and he recently helped set up a 300-seat seminar at the Salk Institute in La Jolla. He writes newsletter articles and maintains an online blog. He is trained as an aviation accident investigator.

Nominations and applications for 2017 General Aviation Awards will be accepted starting July 1, 2016. If you know a flight instructor, aviation maintenance technician or avionics technician, or an FAA Safety Team representative who might be deserving of an award at the local, regional, or national level, the FAA encourages you to nominate that person. If you are an aviation professional with a distinguished career in one of these categories, you are encouraged to apply.

More information about nominating or applying is available here.

AOPA ePublishing staff
AOPA ePublishing Staff editors are experienced pilots, flight instructors, and aircraft owners who have a passion for bringing you the latest news and AOPA announcements.
Topics: Aviation Industry

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