LONGMONT, Colorado (29 February 2012) - In each of the past 49 years, the General Aviation Awards program and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) have recognized a small group of aviation professionals in the fields of flight instruction, aviation maintenance, avionics, and safety for their contributions to aviation, education, and flight safety.

This awards program is a cooperative effort between the FAA and more than a dozen industry sponsors ( The selection process begins with local FAA Safety Team managers at Flight Standards District Offices (FSDOs) and then moves on to the eight regional FAA offices. Previous national awards winners from each of those four fields then select national winners from the pool of regional winners.

Recipients of this year's national awards are Marvin Hornbostel of Junction City, Kansas, Aviation Maintenance Technician (AMT) of the Year; Eric Christopher "Rick" Ochs of Gahanna, Ohio, Avionics Technician of the Year; MCFI Hobart Caleb "Hobie" Tomlinson of Huntington, Vermont, Certificated Flight Instructor (CFI) of the Year; and Jeanné Carole Willerth of Lee's Summit, Missouri FAA Safety Team Representative of the Year. Previously, this award was the Aviation Safety Counselor (ASC) of the Year.

The FAA administrator will present the national awards in July during a "Theater in the Woods" program at EAA AirVenture 2012 in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Included in the prize package for all four national winners is an all expense paid trip to Oshkosh for the recipient and a guest to attend the awards presentation and other GA Awards activities.

"These awards highlight the important role played by these individuals in promoting aviation education and flight safety," said JoAnn Hill, General Aviation Awards chairperson. "The awards program sponsors are pleased that these outstanding aviation professionals will receive the recognition they so richly deserve before their peers in Oshkosh."

2012 NATIONAL AMT OF THE YEAR: Marvin Hornbostel of Junction City, Kansas is a recipient of the FAA's Charles Taylor Master Mechanic who has been working more than 50 years as an airframe and powerplant (A&P) technician. He has held inspection authorization (IA) for 40 of those years.

His passion for airplanes started early. Growing up during World War II, his dream was to fly B-17s. Of course, the war didn't wait for him but when his dad gave him his first rubber band powered balsa model airplane, his future was decided.

He began his career in aviation with the United States Army at Fort Rucker, Alabama, where he received basic aviation maintenance training followed by two years of service in Germany. After discharge, he worked with a maintenance contractor at Fort Riley, Kansas, performing maintenance on Army aircraft. Thirty-two years later, he retired as the shop supervisor.

During his years at Fort Riley, Marvin spent his spare time working on general aviation aircraft while learning all he could about fabric covering. His first complete restoration in 1968 was a 1941 Taylorcraft. Two of his restored aircraft have been award winners at airshows in Oshkosh and Blakesburg, Iowa.

After retiring in 1990, he continued restoring fabric aircraft at his home in rural Junction City. Within a short time, his ability to work with fabric covering became widely known and turned into a business. Marvin, along with his son Jon, own and operate Raven Aero Service, which was formed in 1992. Raven specializes in antique and classic aircraft restoration. Shortly thereafter, the business outgrew the facility and was relocated to Junction City's Freeman Field (3JC). Raven currently has four full time employees.

Marvin provides summer jobs for students interested in aircraft restoration from Kansas State University's Aviation School. He also works with the Junction City High School Guided Study Program to provide hands-on training to students interested in aviation maintenance. Additionally, he provides work experience and mentoring to Army aviation maintenance technicians to help them transition into civilian careers.

Marvin serves on the Junction City Airport Aviation Advisory Board and is president of EAA Chapter 1364, the "Wing Nuts." With a grant from The Greater Manhattan Community Foundation, he was instrumental in starting a Youth Aviation Education Program in the local chapter. The group participates in EAA's Young Eagles Program, has built a flight simulator, and is presently constructing a Bowers Fly-Baby.

Marvin has been married to his high school sweetheart, Janice for 55 years. Together they have four children and five grandchildren.

Hornbostel ( represented the Wichita FSDO area as well as the FAA's Central Region. This year's other regional AMT winners include Patrick Michael "Pat" Carey of Redondo Beach, CA (FAA's Western Pacific); Jack Lynn Haun of Port Orange, FL (FAA's Southern Region); Robert Lee Hensley of Oklahoma City, OK (FAA's Southwest Region); Jacob Rama "Jake" Milstein of Boulder, CO (FAA's Northwest Mountain Region); Steven Nelson "Steve" Skinner from Northfield, VT (FAA's Eastern Region); and Janese ValerieThatcher-Buzzell of Inver Grove Heights, MN (FAA's Great Lakes Region). (Attached photo: 2012 Nat'l Aviation Maintenance Technician of the Year Marvin Hornbostel of Junction City, KS.) [523 words]

2012 NATIONAL AVIONICS TECHNICIAN OF THE YEAR: Eric Christopher "Rick" Ochs of Gahanna, Ohio has been named the 2012 National Avionics Technician of the Year. He owns and manages Spirit Avionics Limited, an FAA certified Part 145 repair station at Port Columbus Airport (CMH) in Columbus, Ohio.

Rick grew up in Columbus as an avid hot-rodder and attended a vocational education program entitled "Communications Electronics" in high school. It was there that he developed an interest in electronics and nurtured his mechanical aptitude.

He obtained his formal avionics training in the United States Navy and began his career on the flight deck of the carrier USS Forrestal (CV-59) as an avionics troubleshooter. After his discharge from service, he received additional avionics education in the industry via a succession of positions at large and small companies.

In March of 2000, he founded his own company, Spirit Avionics. The business began as a one-man operation. Presently, Spirit Avionics employees 10 people and services military, federal, corporate, and private aircraft.

With over 25 years of avionics experience, Rick is a well-known leader within the avionics community. He has been dedicated to establishing avionics technician national certification and academic accreditation standards to enhance professional development. He also is heavily involved in industry and FAA initiatives to properly recognize avionics technicians for their critical role in aircraft maintenance and modifications.

Rick currently works on initiatives to elevate the professional credentials of aircraft technicians through his involvement with the National Center for Aerospace and Transportation Technologies (NCATT). NCATT is a non-profit organization dedicated to establishing globally recognized training accreditation and certification standards to qualify aerospace professionals in their respective career fields. They've developed industry certification standards for aircraft electronics technicians and he is working in their workshops to help establish standards and credentialing requirements for professional avionics technicians.

In addition to serving on the Aircraft Electronics Association (AEA) board of directors, Rick is chairman of the AEA's Member Benefits Committee and is the FAA Ambassador for the Columbus FSDO. He serves on the National Business Aviation Association's (NBAA) Maintenance Manager's committee and co-chairs the Advanced Training and Education subcommittee. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the Youth Aviation Adventure program.

A soon-to-be-instrument-rated private pilot, Rick also holds Radio 1, 2 & 3 repairman certificates and an Airframe Mechanic certificate as well as an FCC General Radio Operator license. He regularly flies the company's Cessna 182 with the latest avionics technologies installed by the Spirit Avionics team.

A member of the EAA who regularly participates in FAA FAASTeam outreach initiatives, Rick is married to Pam and they have four children.

Ochs ( represented the Columbus FSDO area and the FAA's Great Lakes Region. This year's other regional Avionics Technician of the Year winners include John Tildon Austin Jr of Honolulu, HI (FAA's Western Pacific Region); William David "Bill" Betts from Smithfield, NC (FAA's Eastern Region), and James Andrew "Jim" Lightfoot Sr of Milliken, CO (FAA's Northwest Mountain Region). (Attached photo: 2012 Nat'l Avionics Technician of the Year Rick Ochs of Gahanna, OH) [507 words]