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Chapter Major Achievement Award Winners for 2016
By Brett Hahn
| Ellen Randoll, Chapter 1044 — Major Achievement
Ellen Randoll, EAA 1137418, joined EAA in 2000. She was the primary force in reviving EAA Chapter 1044 in Overgaard, Arizona — now 39 strong. Ellen has opened up her hangar to host chapter gatherings every month and serves as the chapter treasurer and secretary, getting its financial house in order in no time. She chaired a scholarship committee to set up a program that allowed Chapter 1044 to send two local youths to the EAA Air Academy this year.
Ellen is the point person for the chapter’s fundraising. She also writes articles for the chapter website and newsletter and is the chapter staff photographer. Ellen initiated a partnership between Chapter 1044 with Civil Air Patrol to start an aerospace education program, as well as spearheaded an effort to provide aviation lesson plans and related books for teachers to use in their classrooms. She is a Young Eagles volunteer and was the on the frontline in a battle against her own airport when its board prohibited organized Young Eagles rallies. When not flying the family Mooney, Ellen and her husband, Curt, are deep into a Rans S-7 build. Chapter 1044 President Larry Drivers said, “To say Ellen is the heart and soul of our chapter would be quite an understatement.”
| Kevin Pratt, Vintage Chapter 16 — Major Achievement
Kevin Pratt, EAA 265762 and Vintage 20998, has been with EAA since 1986. He took over the failing Vintage Chapter 16 in 2007 with two ambitious goals: Start a chapter airplane project of some sort as a fundraiser, and acquire a chapter home. Goal No. 1 was completed in 2012 when the chapter completed a Fly Baby. Kevin donated many of his own funds and parts to the chapter project. Goal No. 2 was completed in 2013 when the chapter hangar was built, using proceeds from the Fly Baby sale to complete it.
Kevin stepped down as president in 2015, after growing the chapter from 20 to 100 members in eight years. He is a frequent speaker, lecturing on aircraft building processes and safety. Kevin also serves as a classic airplane judge at Oshkosh each year. He won the AirVenture 2012 Bronze Lindy for the Fly Baby that he and the chapter built.
Steve Magdic, Ultralight Chapter 1 — Major Achievement
Steve Magdic is an award-winning competition pilot who started with EAA in 1998. He is the central figure and advocate for ultralight enthusiasts in Wisconsin. Steve, EAA 589592, has been integrally involved at Ultralight Chapter 1 for 15 years and is chapter president. He possesses a treasure trove of relationships and connections to link the right people together for skills and assistance in the upper Midwest.
Since 2010, Steve has been a co-chairman of the AirVenture Ultralight Area, logging hundreds of volunteer hours each year. One of the top ultralight flight instructors in the nation, he has taught many to fly and always offers rides to curious onlookers. Steve is a subject matter expert, always willing to share his expertise and experience to help others solve problems. He has been the glue that kept this diverse 56-member chapter in southeastern Wisconsin moving forward and cohesive.
Burl Nelson, Chapter 479 — Major Achievement
Burl Nelson, EAA 357343, has been an EAA member and volunteer since 1990. He is co-chairman of Protect our Planes, helped set up AirVenture Patrol, and worked with the KidVenture and Give Flight programs. He was a member of Chapter 479 in Diamondhead, Mississippi, from 1993 to 2005, when Hurricane Katrina hit. Burl headed the team to rebuild the chapter in early 2008 and served as president until 2014.
Burl currently is the chapter fundraising chair and has raised more than $50,000 in two years, enabling 50 students to attend the National Flight Academy in Pensacola Naval Air Station. He is an experienced A&P, flight advisor, and tech counselor, and he holds commercial, multi-engine, and instrument ratings. At the age of 75, he added a seaplane rating. He provided written input to EAA during the effort to obtain FAA approval to allow experienced pilots to fly with builders during initial flights.
Burl has built several aircraft, including an RV-9A, Zenith 701, RV-12, and restored a J-3 Cub. He has also taught at the Sun ’n Fun sheet metal workshop for 12 years.
Kathy Howell, IAC Chapter 26 — Major Achievement
Kathy Howell, EAA 847137 and IAC 433829, holds dual roles, serving as the vice president and secretary of IAC Chapter 26 for the past seven years. She volunteers as a registrar and contest coordinator while mentoring the next generation of chapter volunteers.
Kathy single-handedly created the infrastructure for, started, and managed the first Young Eagles event for IAC Chapter 26. She spearheaded an effort to help her chapter reach out to the City of Delano to create a positive relationship. Kathy helped put on Aerobatics Judges’ Camps, which include actual flight exercises for participating judges. She is an award-winning advanced aerobatic pilot, as well as a NASA engineer and flight test coordinator.
“Kathy is the go-to person at IAC Chapter 26 and has dragged our chapter kicking and screaming into meticulously planned and expertly executed chapter events,” said Tim Just, IAC Chapter 26 president.
Wally McCoy, Chapter 1095 — Major Achievement
Wally McCoy, EAA 810409, is a three-term president of Chapter 1095 and its tireless recruiter and promoter. He is a CFI, technical counselor, Young Eagles pilot, and a chapter volunteer. Wally heads up the Chapter 1095 EAA name tag operation for other EAA chapters (it’s Chapter 1095’s fundraiser). He also serves as the grand marshal of the Wings Over Northern Michigan Airshow, and is a major influence on airport policy at that chapter’s home airport, GLR.
At work, Wally has plied the skies as a United Airlines pilot for 35 years. He is the builder of an RV-4 and recently completed a Piper Cub restoration. For Chapter 1096, Wally is someone you can always count on, and he exemplifies EAA’s Spirit of Aviation.
Dick Koehler, Chapter 186 — Major Achievement
Dick Koehler, EAA 161427, joined in 1980 and has volunteered for more than 30 years as a tech counselor and flight adviser. For years, he has assisted his chapter members in completing their annual condition inspections to keep the airplanes safe and flying, and helped owners learn a little bit more about the operations of their aircraft. Dick was recruited by EAA’s Charlie Becker to lead the development and operation of the Sport Air Workshops and can be seen on camera as a frequent contributor to EAA’s highly successful Hints for Homebuilders training series.
Dick is a former professor from the University of the District of Columbia, where he taught every segment of the aviation maintenance curriculum. He frequently brought his students out to the airport on weekends to get hands-on experience with condition and annual inspections. Dick built and flew his own KR-2. He is an aeronautical engineer, graduating from Purdue on a Navy scholarship in 1968. He also flew A-6s into North Vietnam off of the USS Enterprise. Dick was a program manager for the Navy’s Common Avionics initiative and the T-45 program. He won the Tony Bingelis Award in 2007 for his technical accomplishments.
Bent Esbensen, Chapter 655 — Major Achievement
Bent Esbensen, EAA 340075, has been an EAA member and volunteer since 1984 at Chapter 655 in Esbjerg, Denmark. He has been a private pilot since 1985, and was captain and squadron leader in the Danish national guard until 2002. Bent restored a Piper PA-12 and Aeronca Champ and won awards for both. He served as Chapter 655 president from 1996 to 1997 and from 2011 to the present, and was the chapter newsletter editor from 2012 to 2015.
Bent is a skilled fabric covering instructor, and a DAR on corrosion, fabric, noise, aircraft weighing, and final inspection. Aviation in Denmark has been highly regulated, heavily taxed, and plagued by bureaucracy. Bent forged a path for owners of homebuilt aircraft in Denmark to be able to import aircraft and obtain a repairman’s certificate if the builder takes a maintenance course conducted by EAA Chapter 655. Previously, any imported homebuilt aircraft were required to have work completed at a certified shop, with high shop prices. He also developed a noise certification procedure and issues noise certificates to aircraft owners for free, a process that used to be a lengthy and pricey procedure, run by the Danish Civil Aviation Administration (CAA).
Although Bent is an extremely dedicated EAAer, his motivation might have been raised a wee bit by the CAA president telling him, “You are not an engineer, so you are not able to do that.” Final inspections on homebuilt aircraft were once handled by the CAA, which was very expensive and took a long time to complete, the record being 14 years. Bent now performs the final inspections and charges $385, which is a fundraiser and goes directly back to the chapter. Previously, fees for final inspections were running as high as $3,900.
Bent is currently in the process of a two-year test process to prove that mogas is a safe alternative for avgas in Denmark. Bent has been using his very own Aeronca Champ to complete this test, which will allow pilots to use mogas with a street price of $5/gallon, as opposed to the current $8/gallon for avgas.
Bent is a bright, passionate doer — very logical and practical of course, but extremely charming when the need arises. This combination of traits has yielded tremendous benefits for Danish aviators and a very positive and productive relationship with the Danish CAA.
Marvin Hoppenworth — Lifetime Achievement
Marvin Hoppenworth, EAA Lifetime 2519, has been a member since 1956 and is the fourth person to sign up as a lifetime member.
After graduating from high school, Marv built egg crates to earn enough money to go to aircraft mechanic school. He attended A&E (now A&P) school in California, and received his A&E certificate in December 1947. He went to work as an aircraft mechanic for the Terry Flying Service at the Livingston Airport in Waterloo, Iowa. Marv received his private pilot certificate in 1948 and purchased his first airplane for $250, a Piper L-4 with 248 hours on it, which was used in Europe as a spotter in World War II and needed significant restoration. After a three-month, $255 restoration, the plane was flown in January of 1949. Marv put about 500 hours on this plane and gave about 180 people their first airplane rides in it.
Marv served as an aircraft mechanic in the Army’s 741 Division Air Section in Korea. After returning from Korea, Marv worked at the Hunter Airport in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, using the Cub to commute from his father’s farm on weekends. In 1953, Marv purchased a Taylorcraft BC12-D, needing re-cover and engine overhaul. That year he gave a young lady her first airplane ride, all the way from Cedar Rapids to his parents’ farm. She later became his wife in September of 1954. Since he needed money to finish repairs on the Taylorcraft and to buy furniture for his bride’s new home, he sold the Cub, which has since been restored to its original L-4 configuration and is featured at the Air Zoo in Kalamazoo, Michigan. In 1956, Marv began working for Rockwell Collins, where he worked directly with Dr. Alexander Lippisch. While working there, Marv was issued a patent for his developmental work on differential systems.
His many contributions to EAA include being a founding member of Chapter 33 in Iowa, serving as regional representative from 1962-1965, helping to organize chapters in Waterloo and Fort Dodge, and forming the first emergency repair tent at EAA with Marshall Turner in the early ‘60s. In addition, Marv was among the first group of EAA tech counselors (his number is 11), served as a classic airplane judge in Oshkosh from 1980-1990, and taught welding at Oshkosh workshops. He also taught A&P classes in Waterloo from 1968-1974 and performed maintenance for the Civil Air Patrol squadron.
Marv retired in 1989 and began his pedal plane business, through which he sold more than 20,000 sets of plans in 13 years. In 1998, Marv received the Charles Taylor Master Mechanic Award for 50 years of exemplary service. In 2002, he received the EAA Major Achievement Award at Theater in the Woods. Marv has been a contributing writer for several magazines, including Sport Aviation and Vintage Airplane.
On July 11, 2012, Marv delivered the 75th Anniversary Piper J-3 Cub to the EAA Museum. This is a unique aircraft built from leftover parts. It has no pedigree, no title, no registration, no airworthiness certificate, and the engine will not run. But boy, does it look nice in the museum!
Marv designed and built six Wright Flyer pedal planes to help EAA commemorate the 100th anniversary of flight, which are used every year at KidVenture. He and his wife, Cathy, maintain these aircraft every year as volunteers.