Every year for more than 50 years, the General Aviation Awards program and the FAA have recognized aviation professionals for their contributions to GA in the fields of flight instruction, aviation maintenance/avionics, and safety.
The FAA will present the recipients of this year’s awards with individual plaques in July, during EAA AirVenture 2017 in Oshkosh, Wisc., and their names will be added to the large permanent plaque located in the lobby of the EAA AirVenture Museum. Also included in the prize package for each national honoree is an all-expenses-paid trip to Oshkosh to attend the awards presentation and other special GA Awards activities.
2017 National Flight Instructor of the Year
Charles Orville Gensler of Parker, Colo., has had a lifelong interest in aviation. His father, who served as an Air Force pilot during three wars, took him to countless airshows where he watched the Thunderbirds and Blue Angels perform. This led Gensler to enroll in Air Force ROTC at The Citadel where he earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. Upon graduation in 1974, he entered Air Force flight training and graduated near the top of his class.
Gensler was selected as an Air Force instructor pilot, and he quickly discovered his true passion as a teacher. He accepted a position as a career trainer in the Air Force, and spent the next 24 years in various roles educating and training military pilots.
After military retirement, Gensler turned his attention to general aviation, embarking on a quest to bring GA pilot training closer to the level of proficiency offered by the military and airlines. For the next seven years, he served as chief flight instructor of the Aspen Flying Club. Then in 2007, he co-founded Independence Aviation in Denver and served as its chief flight instructor for the next six years. At Independence, he helped grow the business from three CFIs and two airplanes to more than 18 instructors and 13 aircraft. He continues to instruct at Independence Aviation as chief flight instructor emeritus.
Gensler was one of the first CFIs in the Denver area to begin teaching in technically advanced aircraft. In 2004 he became one of the first Cirrus Standardized Instructor Pilots (CSIPs) in the area, and in 2011 qualified as a Platinum CSIP (one of only 81 worldwide). Gensler was also an early adopter of tablets in the GA cockpit, and has conducted numerous safety seminars on the effective use of this technology. He is also a strong proponent of the use of flight simulators and flight training devices to help maintain pilot proficiency, and was instrumental in incorporating the Redbird Xwind training device into the curriculum at Independence Aviation. In 2016, he led a team that developed a novel, continuous proficiency training program at Independence, called the Complete Proficiency Approach, for GA pilots to receive recurrent proficiency training every 60 days throughout the year.
Gensler has logged more than 9,400 hours of flight time — 8,000 of them instructing. He has been an active FAASTeam representative for more than 15 years. Chuck volunteered to be the co-general manager of the EAA Pilot Proficiency Center at AirVenture 2016, supervising 20 instructors conducting more than 25 training scenarios in a variety of Redbird flight simulators. Based on his strong performance, he was asked to fill this role again at AirVenture 2017.
2017 National Aviation Technician of the Year
Brian John Carpenter of Corning, Calif., has become the go-to guy when it comes to the construction and maintenance of light-sport aircraft. Anytime he’s not teaching a light-sport repairman workshop, you’ll probably find Carpenter in his hangar at the Corning Municipal Airport working on his electric motor glider or creating an educational aviation YouTube video.
Carpenter has had a passion for aviation since he was a child building and flying remote control aircraft. In 1979 he earned his pilot certificate while in the Navy. After graduating from Helena Vocational Training Institute in Montana with an airframe and powerplant (A&P) mechanic certificate, he worked as a lead mechanic for the former large aircraft operation and maintenance company, Aero Union. By 1985, he was the chief inspector and was later promoted to director of maintenance in 1990.
In 1991 Carpenter opened his own aviation company, Rainbow Aviation Services, which is a full-service fixed-base operator (FBO) in Corning, Calif. Rainbow’s light-sport repairman courses have been taught throughout the United States and Australia. The company is a source of light-sport expertise for aviation enthusiasts, flight instructors, mechanics, and even FAA inspectors. Carpenter has mentored more than 3,000 repairmen since the light-sport rule was implemented in 2004 and is the only active provider of FAA-approved training for the light-sport repairman rating.
Carpenter has built 36 aircraft and is an innovative aircraft designer. His current project is the EMG-6 electric motor glider. He is developing a low cost, electric aircraft to meet the needs of the average person, making the aircraft affordable, and creating complete video instruction for the build. Carpenter has also designed more than 100, 3D-printed parts for use on the EMG-6.
2017 National FAA Safety Team Representative of the Year
Mark Alan Ducorsky of Lakeland, Fla., started flying in 1973 taking flying lessons at Camp Solo, which was a youth summer camp in Bangor, Maine. He soloed on his 16th birthday, and passed his private pilot checkride on his 17th birthday. After graduating from high school in Hyde Park, N.Y., Ducorsky enrolled in Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach with the intention of becoming an airline pilot. However, there he discovered his true passion was to teach flying.
Ducorsky worked as a freelance CFI in Dutchess County, N.Y., and at several part 61 and 141 flight schools. He taught countless people to fly, including his future wife, who is now a CFI herself.
Ducorsky later became a sales manager for, and later an executive and an owner, of a food manufacturer. Over the next 16 years, the company enjoyed dramatic growth due to the company’s use of business aviation that he developed during the course of his tenure there. The company had its manufacturing plant in Mexico and headquarters in El Paso, Texas, so Ducorsky traveled there and throughout North America on a regular basis. While south of the border, he provided advanced and recurrent multi-engine training to expatriate American pilots residing in northern Mexico.
Over the years, Ducorsky has provided a lot of his flight instruction on a pro bono basis. Between 1992 and 2002, he underwrote a free flight scholarship for an underprivileged young adult from the Bronx, N.Y., every other year. His philosophy about flight training was straightforward: He never wanted money to be his motivator as it related to training people to fly. He always felt strongly that this was how he could provide the best, most comprehensive flight training to his students, which was motivated by his love of and passion for aviation, and he had faith that his monetary needs would come organically.
Ducorsky is a high-activity, FAA designated pilot examiner out of the Orlando Flight Standards District Office where he performs more than 200 certifications and practical tests per year in airplanes and gliders. He is a Gold Seal and Master CFI with more than 7,000 hours of instruction given, a former part 141 chief pilot, and a current part 141 check airman. He is also chairman of the Lakeland Aero Club, a part 141 instructor, and check airman in the Polk State College professional pilot program, and the chief instructor and director of scholarships and youth programming for Sun ‘n Fun Fly-In, Inc.
Since 2013, Ducorsky has served as the lead representative for the FAASTeam in Orlando. He has participated in more than 100 WINGS-qualified safety seminars, events, and other activities.
Nominations and applications for the 2018 General Aviation Awards will be accepted starting July 1, 2017. If you are acquainted with a CFI, AMT, Avionics Tech, or FAASTeam Rep whom you think might be deserving of an award at the local, regional, or national level, we encourage you to nominate him or her. If you are an aviation professional with a distinguished career in one of these categories, we encourage you to apply. For more information about nominating or applying, please go to: GeneralAviationAwards.com/nominations.
This article was originally published in the July/August 2017 issue of FAA Safety Briefing magazine.