Reproduced with permission from Avionics News, May 2013
Gary Harpster of Duncan Aviation addresses the Aircraft Electronics Association membership for the first time as chair of the board at the 2013 AEA International Convention & Trade Show in Las Vegas.
At the 2013 Aircraft Electronics Association International Convention & Trade Show, Gary Harpster of Duncan Aviation was elected as the new chair of the AEA board of directors. Recently, Patricia Luebke, Avionics News contributor, spoke with Harpster to learn more about his background and aspirations as AEA’s newest chairman.
What does being AEA’s chair of the board of directors mean to you?
One thing I’ve learned throughout the years is that people assimilate new information in a multitude of different fashions. I’ve always prided myself at being able to listen and not form any opinions until the final person has spoken. I hope I can use this characteristic in this new role. The AEA has been working hard to become a sound resource for accurate aviation information, so when we convey a message to the members, we need to be conscious about how it’s perceived. The AEA has a good track record, and I want to build on that.
Do you have a specific agenda in your new leadership role?
I’m not so sure I have a specific agenda, as much as a desire to contribute 110 percent of whatever is asked of me during this time. There are lots of different avenues a person could delve into, but I want to make sure the board supports a coordinated effort that returns the most benefit to the AEA members. I know one effort will be to introduce members to the various committees the AEA has and encourage more members to find a topic of interest and serve on a related committee. It is vital that we continue to seek opinions, network with each other and become more involved in our industry and its future.
Is there a particular area that interests you as chairman?
Duncan Aviation is the largest privately held MRO (maintenance repair and overhaul) facility in the world, so we not only work on a large variety of aircraft on a daily basis, we have worldwide exposure, as well. I’m hoping I can pass on ideas for other facilities to consider as work opportunities and/or solutions. Right now, the AEA has a great relationship with the FAA, so I’d like to get a chance to contribute ideas that would allow our members to do what they enjoy with a less cumbersome bureaucracy and, hopefully, fewer paperwork challenges
What is your background?
I grew up next to Eppley Airfield in Omaha, Neb. We lived about 3 miles from the airport, so whenever there was an opportunity, my sister and I would ride our bikes by the airfield and wait on the approach end of the runway for aircraft to pass overhead. As soon as they were right on top of us, we would stand up and let the prop blast blow us down the hill. This avionics was in the early 1960s, long before we had the security we have today. We would come home smelling like kerosene that permeated our clothes, so my mother knew right away where we’d been. I still can’t help but look up every time a plane passes overhead.
Click here to read Patricia Luebke’s complete interview with Gary Harpster.