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2007 Nat'l General Aviation Award Winners Named
March 4, 2007 - In each of the past 44 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 safety and education.

This awards program is a cooperative effort between the FAA and a dozen industry sponsors.  The selection process begins with local FAA Safety Team managers at Flight Standards District Offices (FSDO) and then moves on to the eight regional FAA offices.  Panels of aviation professionals from within those four fields then select national winners from the pool of regional winners.
Recipients of this year's national awards are Michael Gerard "Mike" Gaffney of Lake Saint Louis, Missouri, Certificated Flight Instructor (CFI) of the Year; Paul James New of Jackson, Tennessee, Aviation Maintenance Technician (AMT) of the Year; Jerry Dee Luttrull of Riverside, California, Avionics Technician of the Year; and Cheryl Ann De Filippo of Deltona, Florida, FAA Safety Team Representative of the Year.  Previously, this award was the Aviation Safety Counselor (ASC) of the Year.

FAA Administrator Marion Blakey will present the national awards in July during a "Theater in the Woods" program at EAA AirVenture 2007 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.  

"These awards highlight the important role played by these individuals in promoting aviation education and flight safety," said JoAnn Hill, General Aviation Awards Committee 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."

2007 FAA Safety Team Representative Of The Year:
  Cheryl DeFilippo is a resident of Deltona, Florida, and has been involved in the FAA's safety program for almost a decade.  As the daughter of a naval aviator, she practically grew up in the hangars of Pennsylvania's Willow Grove Naval Air Station watching the Blue Angels practice their routines.  Her interest in aviation was revitalized years later when she met her future husband, Hugh.  A long time pilot himself, he decided to become an active aviator again.  Getting into the cockpit with him was all it took for DeFilippo to enthusiastically embrace the world of flight. 

The two of them began taking advantage of the many safety seminars offered throughout their area.  Before long, they were mentored into the FAA's safety program as aviation safety counselors.  Early on, they volunteered at the FAA Production Studios and National Resource Center at the Lakeland-Linder Regional Airport (LAL).  Soon, she joined the studio crew starting out in an administrative position.  It didn't take long before she moved into public relations where she has served for over seven years. 

As a lead representative in the FAA's new safety program, the FAASTeam, DeFilippo spends much of her time promoting the production studio and its aviation safety message.  Traveling throughout the country to large aviation gatherings including AOPA Expo, AirVenture and Sun 'n Fun, she shares the safety program's goals with other interested aviators.  As a trained graphic artist, she is responsible for producing the studio's promotional materials, books, websites and advertising campaigns.  Working with National FAASTeam Production Manager Obie Young, she helps to provide guidance for developing safety programs nationwide.    

The experience gained in her "day job" has contributed to her achievements as a FAASTeam representative.  She is the vice president of a management firm that oversees the day-to-day activities and organization of professional and nonprofit associations.  Her duties include designing and editing magazines, newsletters and other promotional materials.  She holds Bachelor of Science degrees in business management and commercial art from Florida Technical University.

She now serves as a mentor to volunteers joining the FAASTeam while training new crew members to work in various positions within the production studio.  She also develops new strategies to foster growth of the production studio's efforts.  Youth activities such as EAA's Young Eagles and the Boy Scout's aviation orientation program are also a priority for her.  She is a member of AOPA, EAA and Women in Aviation.  She also supports EAA's Deland Chapter 635.

DeFilippo ([email protected]) represented the Orlando FSDO and the FAA's Southern Region.  This year's other regional winners include Robert Anthony Adelizzi of Bradford, Massachusetts (FAA's Eastern Region); Robert William Betzold of Cabot, Arkansas (FAA's Southwest Region); Thomas Joseph Kennedy of Plymouth, Michigan (FAA's Great Lakes Region); Lawrence William Lay of Douglas, Kansas (FAA's Central Region); Chris Todd Lobato of West Point, Utah (FAA's Northwest Mountain Region); and Melvin Eugene Souza of Mililani, Hawaii (FAA's Western Pacific Region).

2007 CFI Of The Year:
  Master CFI Michael Gaffney, a resident of Lake Saint Louis, Missouri, has been flying for 32 years and has been a flight instructor for 28 of those years.  He grew up in a house under the final approach path of Griffiss Air Force Base near Rome, New York, and spent hours watching B52s and KC135s flying overhead.   Beginning his aviation training in Utica, New York, he soloed on his 16th birthday.  That was followed a year later with the successful completion of his private pilot flight test. 

Since then, he has earned additional FAA certifications as an instrument and multiengine instructor as well as an advanced and instrument ground instructor.  His recent professional development training has led to designations as a Diamond Factory Authorized G1000 Instructor, a Cessna FITS Authorized Instructor and a Cirrus Standardized Instructor.  Additionally, he has held an airframe and powerplant mechanic (A&P) certificate since 1979.     

Gaffney's formal education includes a BS degree in aeronautics from Saint Louis University's Parks College and an MBA from the University of Bridgeport.  That training has served him well in his role as president of Skyline Aeronautics (www.SkylineAero.com).  His wife Julie is Skyline's chief financial officer.  The company, located at the Spirit of Saint Louis Airport (SUS), is a CFR Part 141 flight school, a full service FBO and a general aviation piston aircraft maintenance facility.  In his capacity as chief education officer, he designs courses specializing in technology integration in the cockpit that meet the requirements for FAA/industry training standards (FITS).  He is also an adjunct professor of aviation Washington University of Saint Louis and Saint Louis University.

An aviation writer, Gaffney's articles have appeared in FAA Aviation News and NAFI's Mentor.  A series of six articles focusing on flight training in technically advanced aircraft will begin appearing in AOPA's Flight Training magazine in the April 2007 issue.  He also authored a software program entitled the "The Complete G1000" that was recently published by Aviation Supplies & Academics (ASA).  In January of 2007, Gaffney received the National Air Transportation Association's 2006 General Aviation Education Excellence Award.    

Originally appointed as an FAA Aviation Safety Counselor, he recently became a member of the FAA's new safety program, the FAASTeam.  As an aviation safety advocate, Gaffney conducts numerous safety seminars annually.  He is one of approximately 500 aviation educators worldwide to hold Master CFI accreditation.  In addition, he has also earned accreditation as a Master Ground Instructor (MGI).  His aviation organization memberships include AOPA, EAA, NAFI, and the Greater St Louis Flight Instructors Association. 

Gaffney ([email protected]) represented the Saint Louis FSDO and the FAA's Central Region.  This year's other regional CFI of the Year winners include David Allen Frazier of Jackson, Michigan (FAA's Great Lakes Region); Bettina Marie "Tina" Oborny of Miami Lakes, Florida (FAA's Southern Region); Master CFI Brian Lee Robbins of Columbus, New Jersey (FAA's Eastern Region); and Roger Gordon Sharp of Schertz, Texas (FAA's Southwest Region). 

2007 Avionics Technician Of The Year: 
Jerry Luttrull, the 2007 national Avionics Technician of the Year, is a native of Artesia, New Mexico.  While a youngster growing up in New Mexico and Texas, he would sit near the end of the runway at a local Air Force base and watch aircraft take off and land.  His interest in aviation took root at age 14 while a cadet in the Civil Air Patrol.  After high school, he was contacted by a recruiter from the Spartan School of Aeronautics in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  That led to his graduation with honors from Spartan and earning an Associate of Applied Science degree in aviation instruments and electronics. 

For the past 20 years, Luttrull has been employed by Otto Instrument Service (www.OttoInstrument.com) in Ontario, California.  During those 20 years, he worked his way up from instrument technician to Otto's vice president of quality and compliance.  Otto Instrument Service is a Part 145 Repair Station located two blocks from Ontario International Airport (ONT).
An Otto employee since 1987, he began his avionics career performing inspections, maintenance, preventive maintenance and alterations for aircraft instruments and accessories on general aviation, air carrier and military aircraft. 

Ten years later, he became the company's quality assurance manager where he performed internal quality system audits and corrective actions as well as writing and revising quality system manuals, instructions, forms and procedures.  He interfaced with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Joint Aviation Authorities (JAA) and customers as well as vendors to maintain quality system requirements.  In 2000, he was given the added title of vice president of operations and assigned responsibility for the day-to-day company operations.

In 2003, Jerry was tapped to become Otto's vice president of quality and compliance. In that capacity, he interfaces with the FAA as well as customers and staff on technical and quality issues.  His job requires writing quality manuals, training employees, evaluating the company's capability to repair components, customer training programs, technical assistance, warranty evaluations, overseeing the test equipment calibration program, and training inspectors as well as technical personnel.  Another significant component of his work is overseeing the company's FAA drug and alcohol testing program.

The FAA's Los Angeles Manufacturing Inspection District Office has appointed Luttrull a designated manufacturing inspection representative (DMIR).  He chairs the database committee for a non-profit product evaluation coalition.  Through his ongoing regimen of continuing education and training, he continues to enhance his professional skills.  He has also been a contributor to AEA's Avionics News magazine. 

Luttrull ([email protected]) represented the Riverside FSDO and the FAA's Western Pacific Region.  This year's other regional avionics technician winners were Romel Bonifacio of West Springfield, Massachusetts (FAA's Eastern Region) and Randall John Weller of Waterford, Michigan (FAA's Great Lakes Region).

2007 Amt Of The Year:
  Paul New of Jackson, Tennessee, has been an airframe & powerplant (A&P) technician for almost 20 years and has held inspection authorization (IA) for 15 of those years. 

The seeds that grew into his 3-decade long involvement in aviation were planted early in life by his father, a WWII B-29 mechanic.  New grew up riding his bicycle to the airport after school and on Saturdays to help his dad rebuild airplanes.  What started out as a father and son hobby soon became the family business in a hangar at Jackson's McKellar-Sipes Regional Airport (MKL).  

When not helping his father repair aircraft, he worked at the local FBO towing and fueling planes.  The day after his 16th birthday in 1975, he soloed in a Cessna 150.  Little more than a year later, he earned his private pilot certificate followed shortly thereafter by multi-engine and instrument ratings. 

Early in his aviation career, he put his formal avionics training to work by serving as the avionics manager at repair stations in Illinois and Kentucky.  His heart, however, was in airframe and powerplant maintenance and repair.  In 1987, he purchased his father's rebuilding and repair business, renamed the company Tennessee Aircraft Services (www.TennesseeAircraft.net), and now serves as the company's president.

During Christmas of 2004, fire brought disaster to Tennessee Aircraft Services.  One building and all of its contents were a total loss, a second hangar was substantially damaged, many customer repair projects were destroyed and three employees, including New, were injured.  Since then, a new building has been constructed, repairs were made to the damaged building, the injuries have healed and the company is once again serving the needs of its customers.

The business specializes in major repairs to piston single and twin-engine aircraft.  New's daily workload includes management and operation of the company, supervision of 7 technicians, training apprentice technicians, design of structural repairs, systems & electrical troubleshooting, and post maintenance flight checks.  A favorite part of his work is owner assisted inspections and helping owners better understand how to safely and efficiently maintain their aircraft.  He also monitors several aircraft type-specific internet forums responding to owners' technical questions.

A member of AOPA, EAA, Cessna Pilots Association, International Comanche Society and the American Bonanza Society, he is also a newly appointed FAA Safety Team (FAASTeam) member at the Memphis FSDO.  New recently became an off-site instructor and technical representative for the Cessna Pilots Association and will be writing monthly articles on Cessna airframe issues for the CPA magazine.  He also holds the FAA Diamond Award.

New ([email protected]) represented the Memphis FSDO as well as the FAA's Southern Region.  This year's other regional AMT winners include Arnold Domenic Cicerone of Seal Beach, California (FAA's Western Pacific Region); Luke Thomas Gerard of Johnson, Kansas (FAA's Central Region); Robert Lincoln Gould of Florence, Massachusetts (FAA's Eastern Region); Donnie Joe Lewellen of Friona, Texas (FAA's Southwest Region); and Leslie Emil Ojala of Holt, Michigan (FAA's Great Lakes Region).

The General Aviation Awards program executive committee includes the Aircraft Electronics Ass'n (AEA), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Ass'n of Flight Instructors (NAFI).  Additional support and sponsorship are provided by Women in Aviation International (WAI), the Professional Aviation Maintenance Ass'n (PAMA), the National Business Aviation Ass'n (NBAA), the National Ass'n of State Aviation Officials (NASAO), the National Air Transportation Ass'n (NATA), the Helicopter Ass'n International (HAI), the General Aviation Manufacturers Ass'n (GAMA), the Experimental Aircraft Ass'n (EAA), the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Ass'n (AOPA) and the Aeronautical Repair Station Ass'n (ARSA).    

Information about the General Aviation Awards Program as well as applications for next year's awards is available on the websites of all sponsoring organizations.