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Chapter Award Winners Recognized During AirVenture 2022

August 2022

Each year at AirVenture, we recognize a handful of the many dedicated chapter members through achievement awards, including Chapter Newsletter Editor, Chapter Website Editor, and Chapter Major Achievement Award winners. Congratulations to this year’s award winners!

Newsletter Editors

Our chapters’ newsletter editors are tasked with gathering content for each month’s issue, putting it all together in an eye-catching format, and sending it to readers, which is certainly no small task. When choosing this award, we look at the general appearance of the newsletter as well as the quality of content. It takes commitment and dedication to produce a high-quality monthly newsletter. The chapter newsletter is also an avenue for sharing important announcements, chapter news and photos, educational articles, fly-in opportunities in the local area, and much more. The newsletter is one of the most important ways to keep chapter members connected.

This year, we presented four awards in this category:

Chapter Newsletter Editor Awards

Eric Blomberg of EAA Chapter 13 (Ray, Michigan)

George Young of EAA Chapter 179 (Albuquerque, New Mexico)

John McKiernan of EAA Chapter 485 (Pensacola, Florida)

Karl Aber of EAA Chapter 846 (Wadsworth, Ohio)

Web Editors

Chapter web editors have the job of maintaining their chapter’s website, keeping its content fresh and up-to-date. As we emphasize during Chapter Leadership Training, this is a big deal as the chapter website is often the first place the public will visit to look for more information about the chapter. For new people, the website often provides their first impression of the chapter. The most important information such as the chapter’s meeting location and the date and time of their monthly gathering need to be readily apparent. The website should be easy to navigate and not cluttered. In addition to meeting and contact information, chapters also use their websites to share useful links, calendars of aviation events, photos, aircraft builders’ logs, and much more. These are all features we look for when choosing winners of this award.

This year, we presented four awards in this category:

Chapter Website Editor Awards

Ian Heritch of EAA Chapter 35 (San Antonio, Texas)

John Slemp of EAA Chapter 690 (Lawrenceville, Georgia)

Karl Aber of EAA Chapter 846 (Wadsworth, Ohio)

Ryan Griffin-Stegink of EAA Chapter 234 (Grand Traverse Region, Michigan)

Chapter Major Achievement

Many EAA members go above and beyond the call of their duties as a chapter member or officer. To recognize these select individuals, EAA presents them with the Chapter Major Achievement Award. Winners are selected for their dedication to EAA and their chapter, their service to the aviation community, and their personal achievements.

This year, we selected two winners:

EAALewis Mason — EAA Chapter 35 (San Antonio, Texas)
A veteran of the Vietnam War, Lew joined Chapter 35 right after earning his Private Pilot certificate in 1975. At the time, he thought he could not afford an airplane, but the chapter convinced him that he could build one. Therefore, Lew built his own airplane. In fact, he built four, including the third Vari-EZE in Texas and a Bowers Fly-Baby that was featured in Sport Aviation. In 1987, when Chapter 35’s home airport was sold for redevelopment, Lew and nine other chapter members built a new airport for the chapter. They purchased a plot of land on the west side of San Antonio, cleared it, and built the San Geronimo Airpark from scratch. They built this airport by hand, including its clubhouse, operations hangar, and builders’ hangar, allowing Chapter 35 to have a new place to call home.

During his four-plus decades with the chapter, Lew served in various positions, including as president, secretary, technical counselor, and custodian for the chapter’s tool crib and builder facility. Lew and his wife Nancy are a constant presence at the chapter, tending to the chapter house gardens, teaching kids, welcoming countless new members, cooking an endless number of meals, entertaining chapter parties, and truly making the chapter a home for pilots in the San Antonio area. They attend almost every chapter event, and Lew’s Fly-Baby, dressed as a World War I-era fighter, is a crowd favorite. It would not be an exaggeration to say that Chapter 35 would not be what it is today without Lew’s diligent work.

EAANeil Bowden — EAA Chapter 322 (Johannesburg, South Africa)
Neil has been a member of Chapter 322 since 1981, and he has served as chapter president by popular demand for the past three years. Neil has continuously innovated to keep interest alive in EAA activities with his fertile imagination and energy. He regularly arranges chapter events such as pancake breakfasts, outdoor film evenings, and fly-aways. To encourage participation in chapter activities, Neil developed a points system called MACH — Member Awards for Chapter Help — to reward the most involved chapter members, with the big prize being an all-expenses paid trip from South Africa to AirVenture. During the time of COVID, when in-person gatherings and travel were restricted, Neil introduced virtual chapter meetings that not only allowed members of 322 to stay connected with each other, but which also allowed his chapter members to interact online with EAA chapters in the United States.

Neil is well-known for organizing Chapter 322’s annual visits to AirVenture, which have allowed hundreds, if not thousands, of pilots and aviation enthusiasts from South Africa and neighboring countries to enjoy AirVenture. In addition to all his aforementioned responsibilities, Neil also compiles EAA South Africa’s monthly newsletter Contact!

Congratulations to all of our 2022 Chapter Award Winners!

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