The Walt Gillfillan Award is presented annually at the UC Davis Aviation Noise and Emissions Symposium (ANES) to an individual(s) or organization whose exemplary achievements and contributions in noise mitigation and/or emissions reduction in commercial or general aviation deserve recognition by their peers. The Award honors Walter (Walt) E. Gillfillan, who founded the Aviation Noise Symposium (now the Aviation Noise and Emissions Symposium) in 1985. This is a unique award in that there is no other similar recognition at any other academic institution or aviation environmental forum.
Walter (Walt) E. Gillfillan was a transportation planning consultant for over 40 years with a practice focused on airport issues. He was a national leader in facilitating community dialogue with airports and other relevant stakeholders, regarding community noise impacts from airport and aircraft operations at both general aviation and commercial service airports. In opening that dialogue, he realized that there was an “airport noise mitigation institutional void”: no one institution (airport proprietor, airlines, the FAA, or local governments) had the authority or responsibility to comprehensively address airport noise issues on a local, state, or federal level. This lack of an institutional resource left the public and local communities with nowhere to go to seek assistance and relief from airport and aircraft noise impacts.
To fill the institutional void, Walt created the airport community roundtable concept in the late 1970s/early 1980s. This simple approach was based on a foundation of inclusion – all stakeholders were invited and encouraged to participate in the dialogue to address the issues. The roundtable model provided individuals and communities with an institution (public forum) at which to express their complaints and concerns regarding aircraft noise issues and a formal body to identify and pursue feasible actions to address them.
The roundtable format also created an environment for civil collaboration and cooperation. The stakeholders embraced the opportunity to work together to pursue actionable solutions to mitigate aviation noise impacts. Walt was instrumental in the formation and operation of long running and effective airport community roundtables at SFO, LAX and Centennial Airport, a busy general aviation facility near Denver, Colorado.
Walt founded the symposium in 1985 through the UC Berkeley Continuing Educations Department. It later came under the Technology Transfer Program at the Institute of Transportation Studies and then under the UC Davis Air Quality Research Center in 2006 where it remains today. Walt used the term “symposium” to emphasize the interactive nature of the event, at which community members, aircraft operators, airport proprietors, aviation consultants, local government staff, and government regulators could openly discuss aircraft noise and emissions concerns and share best practices from across the United States and throughout the world. Walt continued to help advise and run the event until his retirement in 2011.
Walt was known for his inclusive style managing the symposium planning meetings as well as his enthusiasm eliciting audience questions and answers throughout the event. He is widely remembered for his lively evening soirées!
Any person(s) or organization contributing to pursue airport/aircraft noise mitigation and/or aviation emissions reduction is eligible to be nominated to receive the Walt Gillfillan Award. The nomination must describe how the efforts and activities of the nominee(s) meets one or more of the following criteria:
- Made a valuable contribution to aircraft noise and emissions
- Been a leader, innovator, or key strategist who has improved our understanding of the science underpinning the field
- Advanced the technology
- Crafted better policy
- Drafted balanced regulations
- Worked to improve communications among stakeholders
- Provided clear and understandable legal interpretations
- Inspired others to do any or all of the above
Any one can nominate a person(s) or organization for the Gillfillan Award, including a self-nomination, but please note that previous award recipients are not eligible to receive a second award. The nomination information should include enough detail to clearly describe why the nominee(s) is/are worthy of receiving the Award.
The deadline to submit nominations is set by UC Davis. This year, nominations are open from November 22, 2023 - December 20, 2023.
The nomination process is meant to be simple and straightforward. For the 2025 year, there will be a short, online form for you to submit a nomination.
Selection of Award Recipient(s)
The nominations for the Walt Gillfillan Award are reviewed by a volunteer committee of stakeholders, some of whom are previous Gillfillan Award recipients. Based on the content of the nomination information, the committee members, by consensus, select a nominee(s) that best fits the criteria for receipt of the Award. The Award is presented to the selected recipient(s) during the Symposium Program.
Walter (Walt) Gillfillan
Mary Ellen Eagan
|FAA Office of Environment and Energy
Dr. Lourdes Maurice