AEA to Celebrate 50th Anniversary at Annual International Convention & Trade Show

AEA to Celebrate 50th Anniversary at Annual International Convention & Trade Show
Monte Mitchell, past president of AEA, will receive the 2007 Lifetime Achievement Award.

Monte Mitchell, past president of AEA, will receive the 2007 Lifetime Achievement Award.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Aircraft Electronics Association. The association has spent months preparing to celebrate the milestone during the 50th Anniversary AEA International Convention & Trade Show, which takes place March 28-31, at the newly renovated Grand Sierra Resort in Reno, Nev.

“We’re laying down the red carpet in Reno to celebrate this special anniversary,” said Paula Derks, president of AEA. “This year’s convention and trade show will represent the pinnacle of the organization’s 50 years of association excellence. We’re hoping the quality and quantity of the entire event will attract as many members as possible to come to Reno and join in this monumental celebration.”

The Aircraft Electronics Association represents more than 1,300 repair stations specializing in maintenance, repair and installation of avionics and electronic systems in general aviation aircraft. AEA membership also includes manufacturers of avionics equipment, instrument repair facilities, instrument manufacturers, airframe manufacturers, test equipment manufacturers, major distributors, engineers and educational institutions.

AEA membership is at an all-time high. In 2006, the AEA experienced record growth with 134 new member companies, which is the largest number of new member companies in a single year in the organization’s 50-year history.

This will be AEA’s largest show ever, with more training, exhibit space, workshops and new products. The exhibit hall is sold out; 31 companies are presenting new products.

First-Nighter 50th Anniversary Party

The association’s First-Nighter 50th Anniversary Party on Wednesday, March 28, will feature Starship & Friends. The group stars Mickey Thomas of Starship and features Chuck Negron of Three Dog Night, Alex Ligertwood of Santana, Eric Troyer of ELO, Jimi Jamison of Survivor and Tommy Heath of Tommy Tutone. Ace Young, “American Idol” 2006 finalist, will make a special appearance.

The celebration begins at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 28. The evening will begin with a cocktail reception and the unveiling of the AEA Timeline Gallery, followed by dinner, special recognitions and the Starship & Friends performance.

What you’ll learn

The show is dedicated to providing those in the avionics industry with the chance to participate, network and extract valuable information to boost their business. The exhibit hall will be filled with avionics and instrument manufacturers and distributors showcasing the industry’s latest innovations in technology, along with shop owners, managers and technicians.

The convention will feature hours of FAA-recognized technical training, important regulatory updates, announcements of new products, manufacturers’ workshops and business management sessions.

More than 90 hours of technical training and workshops are available during the four-day convention. Fast-Trak sessions, offered Wednesday, March 28, range from “Going Global?” and “Garmin G1000 Training and CNI Product Line Refresher” to “Time to Make Policy: Developing Employee Manuals” and “Avidyne FlightMax Entegra Installation and Support.”

The annual AEA Regulatory Rise & Shine Round Table, moderated by Ric Peri, vice president of government and industry affairs for AEA, is Thursday, March 29. Regulatory & Industry Affairs panels, including “Safety Management Systems,” “FAA Leadership” and “User Fees,” will be presented Friday, March 30.

Auction to benefit AEA Educational Foundation

A silent auction will take place from Thursday to Saturday, March 29-31, in the exhibit hall. The auction will feature dozens of interesting items on which to bid, with proceeds benefiting the AEA Educational Foundation.


Monte Mitchell, past president of AEA, will receive the 2007 Lifetime Achievement Award at the AEA official opening on Thursday, March 29, in the Grand Sierra Resort Theater.

Mitchell served first as executive director, then president of AEA, from 1977 to 1996. His career in aviation began in 1956, when he joined Wilcox Electric Co., a transponder manufacturer. When he left Wilcox in the mid-1970s, Bonzer, a new face in the aviation manufacturing industry, recruited Mitchell. For a few years, he was responsible for marketing its line of radar altimeters.

In 1977, Mitchell was recruited for the position of executive director of AEA. Up to 1977, a volunteer staff ran AEA. Realizing the potential for growth and the work involved, the board of directors decided to hire a fulltime, paid staff to properly grow AEA.

During his tenure as president, Mitchell tripled the membership size and introduced new programs and services to the members, including the equipment exchange program and the annual rate and labor survey, and he quadrupled the size of the association’s monthly magazine, Avionics News. Under his leadership, AEA reached beyond North American borders and hosted the first AEA Europe meeting in Zurich, Switzerland, in 1987. Today, AEA membership reaches every corner of the world. He also led the establishment of the AEA Educational Foundation to help promote careers in the aviation maintenance industry.

In addition to presenting its Lifetime Achievement Award to Mitchell and announcing the winners of the 2007 AEA Member of the Year and 2007 AEA Associate Member of the Year, a new honor will be awarded at this year’s convention. The Lifetime Achievement in Aviation Media Award winner will be announced and presented at a media luncheon on March 29, sponsored by Adam Aircraft and Sporty’s. The AEA Annual Awards Luncheon will be held March 30. The organization will also recognize the Avionics Training Excellence Award winners and the AEA Educational Foundation Scholarship recipients.

For a complete schedule of events, visit []. For more information, call 816-373-6565.