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EAA Homebuilders Tony Bingelis Award Winners

2012 Recipient - Joe Norris

Mickey Whittenburg
Joe Norris

Joe Norris, of Oshkosh, Wisconsin, is the 2012 recipient of EAA's Tony Bingelis Award, recognizing his involvement as an active volunteer technical counselor and aircraft builder. Norris has been involved in the aviation community since his first trip to EAA Fly-In Convention in 1970.

Joining EAA in 1976 and earning his private pilot certificate in 1978, Norris was a founding member of EAA Chapter 706 (Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin), where he served as president, vice president, newsletter editor, and director and technical counselor over the years.

Norris, a founding member of the EAA Homebuilt Aircraft Council, has dedicated much of his life to ensuring aircraft safety in the homebuilder community, serving as an EAA technical counselor for more than two decades, as well as an EAA flight advisor, an airplane and helicopter instructor, and an FAA designated airworthiness representative. In 2001, he was hired as a senior aviation specialist in EAA's aviation services department before becoming EAA's homebuilders community manager, a role from which he retired in April 2011.

In addition to helping others ensure safety, Norris acquired and worked on several aircraft throughout his life, including a 1955 Piper Tri-Pacer that he converted to a PA-20 Pacer (tailwheel) configuration. Also included in his "fleet": a Sonerai II, a 1940 Piper J-5A Cub Cruiser, Pitts Special S-1C, Cessna 180, 1957 Piper PA-18 Super Cub, and Waco UPF-7.

Today, Norris is a member of Oshkosh's EAA Chapter 252 as well as Chapter 640 in Wausau, as well as the Vintage Aircraft Association. Though he has sold most of his airplanes, he continues to fly regularly and is an active member of the aviation community.

2011 Recipient - Mickey Whittenburg

Mickey Whittenburg
Mickey Whittenburg

Mickey Whittenburg of Kiln, Mississippi, will receive the Experimental Aircraft Association's 2011 Tony Bingelis Award recognizing contributions to EAA and the aviation community.

Ever since completing his first solo flight at age 17 in 1947, Whittenburg (EAA Lifetime #415) has been deeply rooted in the aviation community, encouraging builders and their projects as well as promoting aviation safety. He joined EAA in 1955, becoming one of the first 500 members of the organization that had formed two years earlier.

Whittenburg, who established Whitcraft Corporation in 1960 as a jet engine parts manufacturer, helped others by building parts for homebuilt aircraft for decades in addition to completing his own homebuilt projects. He flew his first original design homebuilt, a Whitcraft 165, to EAA AirVenture Oshkosh twice, and has also built a Hummel Bird, two Challengers, and a modified Ultra Pup. Always one to lend a helping hand, Whittenburg has helped other builders complete a Pietenpol, Bearhawk, Highlander, Zenith 701, RV-12, and Sonex.

Since becoming an EAA Technical Counselor in 2001, Whittenburg has inspected many building projects along the Gulf Coast, and now also serves as a Flight Advisor in helping pilots with their first flights.

Despite losing his home, shop, and aircraft in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Whittenburg pressed on in his commitment to homebuilts - moving 10 miles north where he built a new shop and a new aircraft, a modified Cub featuring one seat, folding wings, and a trailer.

An active member of EAA Chapter 479 based at Diamondhead Airport in Diamondhead, Mississippi, Whittenburg displays his modified Cub to the chapter's Young Eagles events and educates attendees on the possibilities aviation holds for them. For many years, he has volunteered his time at EAA AirVenture and the Sun 'n Fun Fly-In teaching gas welding, sheet metal, and tech counselor workshops.

The Bingelis Award will be given to Whittenburg during the EAA AirVenture Homebuilders Dinner on Thursday, July 28, during EAA AirVenture. Tickets for the dinner will be available at Homebuilders Headquarters on the EAA grounds.

The Tony Bingelis Award was created in 2002 to recognize a member from the aviation community who has contributed to homebuilt projects and safety promotion while maintaining EAA values. The award honors the late Tony Bingelis, who was noted as a homebuilding authority and Sport Aviation columnist.

2010 Recipient - James Baldwin

James Baldwin
Bingelis award winner James Baldwin pictured with his Van’s RV6 – the second of the type ever to fly.

James Baldwin, of Pickerington, Ohio, will receive the Experimental Aircraft Association's 2010 Tony Bingelis Award recognizing his many contributions to EAA and the aviation community.

Baldwin (EAA 110713) has dedicated more than 60 years to the aviation community, encouraging builders and their projects as well as promoting aviation safety. As a frequent contributor to EAA Chapter 443's monthly newsletter, Baldwin has reported on his EAA Technical Counselor visits and has made himself available at each chapter meeting for an open forum of dialogue.

Since becoming a tech counselor in 1993, Baldwin has conducted sheet metal construction workshops at the Mideast Regional Fly-In, been a flight line safety volunteer at AirVenture, and has advised many builders in Ohio on construction, design, and weight and balance.

A retired aeronautical engineer for North American Rockwell, Baldwin has performed several weight-and-balance programs over the years. He's also provided 332 youths with their first flight through the EAA Young Eagles program, and helped send 18 youths to the EAA Air Academy in Oshkosh.
Baldwin, who received his private pilot certificate the day before he reported to the U.S. Air Force in 1948, built the second Van's RV6 kit to ever fly in 1989, then built an RV10 in 2007. Baldwin has also owned and maintained several aircraft, including a BC12D Taylorcraft and three Cessnas, 140, 120, and 170. Baldwin has invested time in rebuilding and maintaining aircraft owned by The Historical Aircraft Squadron in Lancaster, Ohio, most notably a Mitchell B-25 and Douglas B-26.

Baldwin will receive the Bingelis award during the annual Homebuilder's Dinner on Thursday, July 29, during AirVenture. Tickets for the dinner will be available at Homebuilder's Headquarters on the EAA grounds.

The Tony Bingelis Award was created in 2002 to recognize a member from the aviation community who has contributed to homebuilt projects and safety promotion while maintaining EAA values. The award honors the late Tony Bingelis, who was noted as a homebuilding authority and EAA Sport Aviation columnist.

2009 Recipient - Earl Luce

Earl LuceEarl Luce, of Brockport, NY has been selected as the 2009 recipient of the Experimental Aircraft Association’s Tony Bingelis Award, recognizing his involvement as an active volunteer Technical Counselor and aircraft builder.

Luce has been an EAA Chapter 44 member for more than 30 years, helping his fellow members with aviation projects and technical help.  He used his appliance and electronic business building to establish the Luce Aeroplane workspace for individuals to come for advice and help on over 30 projects.  Besides being an EAA Technical Counselor for 20 years, Luce has provided countless teaching sessions and has been a gas welding instructor for EAA’s SportAir Workshops.

Along with his chapter work, Luce is an active Young Eagle pilot, made presentations at other EAA chapters, and has written for EAA’s Sport Aviation and Experimenter magazines.  Luce is also a presenter in EAA’s Hints for Homebuilders video series, providing tips ranging from motor mounting to proper tubing cuts.

Luce’s personal homebuilt project list is extensive including a Sorrell Guppy, Skycycle ultralight, W-10 Tailwind, all of which were built from plans, and a rebuilt J-2 Cub.  One of the more impressive homebuilt projects Luce completed was the replica of Steve Wittman’s Buttercup.  After receiving Wittman’s blessing in 1993, Luce performed reversed engineering to complete the LuceAir Replica Wittman Buttercup.

The Tony Bingelis Award was created in 2002 to recognize a member from the aviation community who has contributed to homebuilt projects and safety promotion while maintaining EAA values.  The award honors the late Tony Bingelis who was noted as a homebuilding authority and EAA Sport Aviation columnist.

2008 Recipient - Bob Rockford

Bob RockfordBob Rockford, of Overland, MO has been selected as the 2008 recipient of the Experimental Aircraft Association’s Tony Bingelis Award, recognizing his involvement as an active volunteer Technical Counselor and aircraft builder.

The Tony Bingelis Award recognizes an individual’s contributions to the homebuilt aircraft community, and honors the memory of the late Tony Bingelis, noted homebuilding authority and EAA Sport Aviation Columnist.  Rockford was nominated by Allan Reeves of EAA Chapter 1394 and will receive his award during the EAA AirVenture Homebuilder’s Dinner on Thursday, July 31st, 2008.

Bob has volunteered as a Technical Counselor for over 12 years, sharing his knowledge and providing thousands of hours of advice to builders. Bob is the founder of Chapter 1394 and is currently president of that chapter.  Bob has provided countless hours of instruction teaching workshops in the St. Louis area.  He opens his home shop to assist builders in his area and is always the first to volunteer for a project.  Bob has been happily building, repairing and flying airplanes for over sixty years and is very involved in restoring antique airplanes for the Historic Aircraft Restoration Museum in St. Louis.  Bob is also an A&P Mechanic and has contributed outstanding support and participation in the FAA General Aviation Aircraft Accident Prevention Program since its inception on July 1, 1968.  Bob is well known for his volunteer efforts to EAA Chapter 1394 and his contributions to aviation as a whole.

The Bingelis Award was created in 2002 to recognize people who have made significant contributions to the encouragement of aircraft projects for fellow EAA members, the promotion of safety, and for maintaining the values of EAA. A nominee must have been an active and current EAA Technical Counselor for five consecutive years.

2007 Recipient - Richard Koehler

Richard KoehlerRichard Koehler, of Burke, VA has been selected as the 2007 recipient of the Experimental Aircraft Association’s Tony Bingelis Award, recognizing his involvement as an active volunteer Technical Counselor and aircraft builder.

The Tony Bingelis Award recognizes an individual’s contributions to the homebuilt aircraft community, and honors the memory of the late Tony Bingelis, noted homebuilding authority and EAA Sport Aviation Columnist. Koehler was nominated by John Clifford of EAA Chapter 186 and will receive his award during the EAA AirVenture Homebuilder’s Dinner on Thursday, July 26th, 2007.

Richard has volunteered as a Technical Counselor for over 17 years, sharing his knowledge and providing thousands of hours of advice to builders, and also teaches the electrical systems class as a volunteer EAA SportAir workshop instructor. He has contributed many articles to EAA Sport Aviation magazine, an also has had many articles published in chapter newsletters. He has been a recipient of the Bax Seat Trophy. Additionally, Richard has continued to educate and guide aircraft builders through his presentation of forums and by instructing the sheet metal and composite workshops at AirVenture.

Richard built a KR-2 and has restored two Mooneys and a Swift.

2006 Recipient - Jim Miller

Jim MillerJim Miller, of Kansas City, MO, has been selected as the 2006 recipient of the Experimental Aircraft Association’s Tony Bingelis Award, recognizing his involvement as an active volunteer Technical Counselor and aircraft builder.

The Bingelis Award recognizes an individual’s contributions to the homebuilt aircraft community, and honors the memory of the late Tony Bingelis, noted homebuilding authority and EAA Sport Aviation columnist. Miller was nominated by Ray Huffman from EAA Chapter 91, and received the award during the EAA AirVenture Homebuilders’ Dinner on Thursday, July 27th, 2006.

Miller has been an EAA Technical Counselor since 1973, advising aircraft builders on the safe completion of their projects. He has documented over 150 aircraft project visits, and has helped builders develop practical and low cost techniques to achieve complex or critical aircraft building operations. He is also volunteer Designated Airworthiness Representative (DAR) for amateur built aircraft. As a volunteer DAR, Miller saves builders hundreds of dollars in certification fees. In addition, he has written several articles for EAA’s Sport Aviation magazine and other aviation publications, and he continues to educate and guide aircraft builders through numerous presentations in his local area, as well as presenting forums during EAA AirVenture.

Miller constructed an all-wood Taylor Titch that has won numerous awards since 1972. The aircraft is one of only a few aircraft that have been featured on both the front and back covers of EAA's Sport Aviation magazine.

2005 Recipient - Mel Asbury

Mel AsburyMel Asberry of Farmersville, Texas, is the 2005 recipient of EAA's Tony Bingelis Award, recognizing his involvement as an active volunteer Technical Counselor, Flight Advisor and aircraft builder. Asberry will receive the award during the annual Homebuilders' Dinner on Thursday, July 28, at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, the World's Greatest Aviation Celebration, which takes place July 25-31 at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh.

The Bingelis Award was created in 2002 to honor Tony Bingelis, noted aircraft building authority and EAA Sport Aviation columnist who passed away in 2001. Asberry was nominated by EAA Chapter 168 for his numerous contributions. He has volunteered as an EAA Technical Counselor since 1986, advising other aircraft builders on safe completion of their projects. Asberry added responsibility as an EAA Flight Advisor in 1994, helping local pilots assess their flying skills to be able to safely fly their newly built or restored aircraft. For more than 14 years he has also been his chapter's safety officer.

Asberry has also written several articles for the benefit of the aviation community. He has written nine programs and 37 technical articles for his chapter newsletter. He has also written two chapter programs for other chapters. Asberry has also presented a number of forums at the Southwest EAA Regional Fly-In, an event co-founded by Tony Bingelis.

Today, Asberry continues to educate and guide aircraft builders through numerous presentations in Texas, as well as forums during EAA AirVenture Oshkosh. He has constructed two ultralights and one motorglider, as well as an RV-6 aircraft that has won numerous awards. In 1993 he won the Southwest Regional Fly-In Kit Built Custom Workmanship Award, while in 1994 he won the Best All-Metal Homebuilt Airplane award at the Sun 'n Fun Fly-In at Lakeland, Florida, as well as the Grand Champion Kit-Built award at the All-American Sport Aviation Fly-In. In 1995, Asberry won Homebuilt Outstanding Aircraft at Sun 'n Fun.

2004 Recipient - Alex Sloan

Alex SloanAlex Sloan, an active Experimental Aircraft Association volunteer Technical Counselor, Flight Advisor and aircraft builder, as well as the first Chairman of the EAA Homebuilt Aircraft Council, has been selected as the 2004 recipient of the Tony Bingelis Award. The Bingelis Award recognizes an individual’s contributions to the homebuilt-aircraft community, and honors the memory and involvement of the late Tony Bingelis. Sloan will be recognized for his 30 years of contributions and service to EAA members and the homebuilt aircraft community. He will receive the award during the annual Homebuilders’ Dinner on July 29 at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, which is scheduled July 27-August 2 at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh.

“Alex Sloan truly embodies the values of EAA and the legacy established by Tony Bingelis,” EAA President Tom Poberezny said. “He epitomizes volunteerism within the organization and is consistently willing to share his knowledge and resources to promote better airplanes, more prepared pilots and safer flight. He is an outstanding and most deserving recipient of the Bingelis Award.”

Sloan, of Florence, Ala., was a founding member of EAA Chapter 615 in the 1970s and has served in numerous capacities within that group. He volunteered as an EAA Technical Counselor in 1985, advising other aircraft builders on safe completion of their projects. Sloan added responsibility as an EAA Flight Advisor in 1994, helping local pilots assess their flying skills to be able to safely fly their newly built or restored aircraft. In 2000, he was named the first Chairman of the EAA Homebuilt Aircraft Council, which provides policy and program direction for EAA programs.

Today, Sloan continues to educate and guide aircraft builders through numerous presentations in northern Alabama, as well as forums during EAA AirVenture Oshkosh and the Sun ‘n Fun Fly-In at Lakeland, Fla. He has constructed two RV-model aircraft and is currently building a Pietenpol Aircamper. Sloan is also active in the EAA Young Eagles Program and has made many aviation presentations to school groups. In addition, he has been honored with the EAA President’s Award and EAA’s Major Achievement Award in 2001.

Sloan was nominated for this honor by EAA Chapter 615 in Muscle Shoals, Ala., and EAA Chapter 941 in Madison, Ala.

2003 Recipient - Joe Gauthier

Joe GauthierThe 2003 Tony Bingelis Award recipient is Joe Gauthier, an active EAA Technical Counselor since 1977. He is also certified as an FAA Aviation Safety Counselor, an EAA Flight Advisor and a NAFI Master Flight Instructor. In addition, the FAA’s Windsor Locks Manufacturing Inspection District Office (MIDO) recently selected him as an Amateur-Built Designated Airworthiness Representative (AB DAR) under the new AB DAR program.

As southern New England’s leading flight advisor, Gauthier has made the maiden flights of more than 30 homebuilt aircraft. He speaks regularly at chapter meetings throughout the area, as well as forums during EAA AirVenture. He is also a member of EAA’s Homebuilt Aircraft Council, appointed in 2002.

“Joe Gauthier embodies the legacy of Tony Bingelis in an outstanding manner,” EAA President Tom Poberezny said. “He not only has dedicated himself to expanding his own knowledge of aviation, he has unselfishly shared his expertise to help others safely and successfully enjoy the world of flight. He is a most deserving recipient of the Bingelis Award.”

Gauthier, a former member of the U.S. Air Force, spent 33 years with Southern New England Telephone, and is now providing tailwheel and instrument flight instruction and leading two group aircraft construction projects. Gauthier has received many other awards such as EAA Chapter 166’s Outstanding Contribution to Sport Aviation in 1984; EAA’s Major Achievement Award in 1987; EAA’s President’s Award in 1991; Chapter 166’s Aircraft Completion Award in 1973, 1974, 1980, and 1995; Aviation Safety Counselor of the Year (New England region) in 1999; and Certified Flight Instructor of the Year (New England region) in 2002.

Gauthier has constructed two BD-4 homebuilts, a Davis DA-2A, a Lancair 235 and a Thorp T-18. He restored a 1946 Taylorcraft and a 1948 Cessna 140, and assisted in numerous other homebuilt projects both in the mechanical and flight instruction areas.

 
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