Meritorious Service Award: Archie Trammell

NBAA Convention News » 2006
November 13, 2006, 11:32 AM

After all Archie Trammell has done for aviation, he’s still surprised by the recognition and gratitude bestowed on him.

“When I look at the list of people who have received this award,” said Trammell, who is recipient of the 2006 NBAA Award for Meritorious Service to Aviation, NBAA’s highest honor, “I think they must have made a mistake this year.” Recent past recipients have included industry luminaries Russ Meyer, Allen Paulson, Dee Howard and Al Ueltschi, so Trammell is indeed in good company. But he was never one to trumpet the many accomplishments of his varied career, as journalist, editor and, perhaps in his best known role, as a weather radar and safety expert.

Trammell was interested in aviation “from the beginning,” he told NBAA Convention News. During World War II, he was in the War Manpower program and got into Army Air Corps training. He became a mechanic and then joined the Coast Guard where he was sent to Loran school. Called a radar operator, Trammell was shifted over to a Navy radar room. He tried in vain to explain he wasn’t trained in radar operation, but ended up learning it on the job. He said that was “a great experience” because he had the opportunity to grow up with radar.

But in the meantime, he took a detour, first back to mechanic work and then into journalism. He earned his A&E, A&E instructor and pilot ratings. He worked for American Airlines on DC-6s and -7s and then returned to college for a degree in journalism. While he was working for a newspaper in Stockton, Calif., he wrote a few articles for Flying, and editor Bob Park persuaded him to join the staff. He headed the magazine’s Dallas office from 1967 to 1969 as senior editor, then moved to New York to become editor of Business and Commercial Aviation, then published by Ziff-Davis. He left B/CA to work for Bendix Aviation in Florida, for a short period assisting in the development and testing of new radar systems. After leaving Bendix, he started his radar training firm, AJT, in 1979.

This venture was interrupted by an invitation to become executive director of the AOPA Safety Foundation, which he ran for three years. Then it was back to radar training. As head of AJT, Trammell, whom NBAA calls “a widely sought-after safety consultant,” has developed lectures, video programs and instruction classes on the proper use of weather radar, training pilots who fly the U.S. President and other high government officials, as well as the crews of several airlines and more than 4,000 business flight departments.

Always an active pilot, he flew a Piper Aztec at Bendix, and when he started AJT, now called Radar Training Systems, he owned an Aztec in which he installed different radars to gain experience with them. He has also owned a Cessna 182 for 26 years–“I loved it,” he said–and he has owned two Citabrias. He admitted, “I never met an airplane I didn’t like,” but confesses that for ease of flying, the Cessna Citation takes the prize. “It was the easiest airplane I ever flew,” he told NBAA Convention News.

Today, Trammell uses the Internet to expand access to his training, with two Web sites–www.radar4pilots.com, a Radar Training Systems Web publication edited by Trammell, and www.wxradartraining4pilots.com, offering airborne weather radar training on CD-ROM, video and in publications. Radar4pilots, for instance, in August alerted readers to the bureaucratic renaming of thunderstorm threats. No longer called levels, they range from light to extreme.

“A countless number of pilots have benefited from Archie’s understanding of how to make the most effective use of cockpit weather-avoidance and other instruments,” said NBAA board of directors chairman Ken Emerick. “The business aviation community owes Archie a debt of gratitude for his decades-long commitment to promoting equipment and techniques that improve flight safety, and NBAA is proud to honor him with our highest award.”

The award is “presented annually to an individual who, by virtue of a lifetime of personal dedication, has made significant, identifiable contributions that have materially advanced aviation interests.” Trammel will be presented with the award at today’s NBAA/Associate Member Advisory Council luncheon.

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