Historic Visitor Once Again Walks the Aeronautical Center Grounds
Vol.8 Issue 4
Robert "Robby" Bergt, Oscar Danilo Funes Aleman Junior, Jim Doskow, Kevin O'Connor, Oscar Danilo Funes Zeron Senior, Vilma Danilo Funes Aleman, Michelle Coppedge, Jaxier Francisco Funes Aleman, and Dr. Juan Carlos Funes Aleman

This Alumni, Oscar Danilo Funes Zeron, recently turned 87 years old and for his birthday, his sons and daughter decided, as a celebration of his life, to take him on a trip from Denver Colorado to Houston Texas. When preparing for the trip, his son, Javier Francisco Funes Aleman, decided to surprise his father with a visit to the Aeronautical Center. His other son, Oscar Danilo Funes Aleman, not knowing exactly where to request access, started searching the internet and found the FAA Academy’s International Training Division (ITD).

The minute Robby Bergt, ITD Manager, received the request, he knew this was a unique opportunity and once he discovered Mr. Funes’ background, Bergt’s office began planning the visit. Mr. Funes provided pictures of his Certificates, Federal Aviation Agency Ring, and even a picture taken during one of his classes. It was evident by his memorabilia, that Mr. Funes was proud of his experience at the Aeronautical Center and in reviewing his data the FAA Academy realized that he attended training right in the middle of many historic changes in aviation throughout the United States, and the FAA.

It was the end of the 1950s and the beginning of the 1960s and aviation was going through many milestones. On July 1, 1955, the International Cooperation Administration (ICA), as part of the Department of State was established, by Executive Order 10610. Until 1955 the operations of ICA, or its predecessor agencies, had been considered temporary. In providing for the change in status, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, wrote to the Secretary of State stating, “The placing of general responsibility for economic operations as well as for policy in this field within the Department of State offers assurance that, under a permanent government establishment, we are providing a long-range basis for this kind of international cooperation. It is emphatic recognition of the principle that the security and welfare of the United States are directly related to the economic and social advancement of all peoples who share our concern for the freedom, dignity, and well-being of the individual.” Later, the Federal Aviation Act of 1958 was implemented and this legislation, which Senator Mike Monroney and Representative Oren Harris introduced, passed the previous Civil Aeronautics Act (CAA), functions to the Federal Aviation Agency and, Elwood R. Quesada became the FAA’s First Administrator. In 1961, the U.S. and FAA were still changing. John F. Kennedy became the U.S. President, and Najeeb E. Halaby became the second FAA Administrator. President Kennedy continued Aviation advancement and requested Administrator Halaby develop a statement of National Aviation Goals for the period of 1961-1970. In 1967, a new U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) combined major federal responsibilities for air and surface transport and the Federal Aviation Agency’s name was changed to the Federal Aviation Administration.

It was in the 1950s when Mr. Funes’ Aviation career began. He spent his early years at the National Telegraph Radio Service (now the Honduran National Telecommunication Company) as a Technician. He then transitioned to the Directorate of General Civil Aviation (DGAC) and was trained as an Aviation Communication Specialist at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in Mexico City. Upon his return to Tegucigalpa, (Honduras’s capital), Mr. Funes continued to work for the DGAC until around February 1960 when the Corporación Centroamericana de Servicios de Navegación Aérea (COCESNA) was born.

It was between 1961 and 1965 that, Mr. Funes attended FAA Academy training. Mr. Funes attended training under the program of the Government of the United States of America for Technical Cooperation with other Governments. With that program, he attended several Maintenance of Air Navigation Aids classes. Mr. Funes also participated for several months in practical pieces of training at the Providence Airport in Rhode Island. In September 1961, Mr. Funes was awarded a Standardization Course of the Federal Aviation Agency Aeronautical Center Award for Electronics Engineering, which was signed by Oklahoma City Governor, Mayor, and Manager, and the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce (which included John Kilpatrick Jr., President, Stanley Draper, Managing Director, and Jack Clark, Chairman of the Aviation Committee). In 1962, Mr. Funes received another Certificate of Achievement from the Program of ICA of the Government of the United States of America in Cooperation with other Governments, Technical Cooperation Program in the Field of Electronic Equipment. Mr. Funes continued receiving training through the 60s and upon his FAA Academy training completions, he returned to Honduras to start applying all of his newly acquired knowledge. In November 1970, he came back to the FAA and received his final certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration.

Certificate of Achievement (1962) for Oscar Danilo Funes from the International Cooperation Administration
Certificate of Award (1961) for Oscar Danilo Funes for completing the Standardization Course of the Federal Aviation Agency Aeronautical Center in Oklahoma City

Mr. Funes has had many achievements and impacts at COCESNA and in the aviation community. His experience and dedication to aviation safety spans 30 years, from 1957 to 1997. He was one of the COCESNA founding employees. COCESNA is a corporation dedicated to the Safety of Aviation in Central America. During his COCESNA career, Oscar held several positions, from NavAids Chief Technician to Area Supervisor, to his regional role – being responsible for Central America Region’s Navigational Aids Maintenance. Among Mr. Funes’ many achievements were initiatives aiming to improve and modernize the aeronautical communication in the region, leading his team to improve the Aeronautical Fixed Communication Network known as AFTN, the design of a transmitter/receptor for the 4710 frequency, the modification of Aerocom equipment of an NDB model 1046/1000, and the installation of the new data channel 85A2 of 300 Baudes with the FAA center in Atlanta, to increase the data speed of transmission.

On June 9, 2022, the day of his return to the Aeronautical Center, Mr. Funes and his children (named below) were very excited to visit the Aeronautical Center.

  • Oscar Danilo Funes Aleman is an Operations Manager for Latin America and the Caribbean for World Fuel Services Corp.
  • Vilma Daniela Funez Aleman is a Senior Officer at Livelihoods Recovery for International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)
  • Javier Francisco Funes Aleman is the Owner/General Manager of DTM Uniformes
  • Dr. Juan Carlos Funes Aleman is the Owner/Chief Plastic surgeon for Centro Especializado en Cirugia Plastica JCF

Little did they know, they would be welcomed by the Aeronautical Center Director, Deputy Director, and the FAA Academy Director. They toured the Aeronautical Center Employee Association Bookstore and Technical Operations Training environments and when his children walked into the VOR/TACAN/DME Building, they said it smelled like COCESNA. Mr. Funes’ face lit up when he saw the equipment in that building.

Robby Bergt said he and his team will remember this memory for the rest of their careers. Mr. Bergt said Mr. Funes represents history and the successful legacy that the FAA Academy has in providing International Aviation Training. The FAA Academy has played and will continue to play an important role in aviation for our future International partners.

Jim Doskow, FAA Academy Director welcomes Mr. Funes back to the Aeronautical Center
Oscar and son walk around the Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center
Oscar once again views equipment in the FAA Academy, contrasted with a vintage photo of him during class at the Aeronautical Center
Federal Aviation Aministration (FAA) seal