Meet Our NAFI Master Instructors

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 Most recent MCFI's featured here, for comprehensive list, see alphabetical links below sorted by Last Name:





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Ric Blamer NAFI MCFIRic Blamer, MCFI 4/2024-4/2026:

Blamer is the airport manager and an independent flight instructor at Geauga County Airport in northeast Ohio. He shares his passion for aviation as the Young Eagles coordinator, IMC and VMC Club coordinator for EAA Chapter 5, as well as being a FAASTeam service provider. He takes his role as an aviation ambassador on the road to local schools, Rotary Clubs, and other organizations. His passion for teaching and flying is infectious.

Blamer holds CFI, CFII, AGI, and IGI instructor certifications; ASEL, ASES, and Part 107 pilot certificates. He started the Geauga Aviators flying club which has grown to 15 members and is looking to add one or two more aircraft. Recently he was instrumental in forming the Geauga Aviation Foundation. Its mission is to promote aviation and provide a connection to the non-flying community through educational programs.

Click to Download Ric's Press Release!

Steve Rutland, NAFI MCFIJames "Steve" Rutland, MCFI 9/2000-3/2026:

This is Rutland’s 11th NAFI Master Accreditation. Rutland is a professional pilot and flight instructor with 50 years of aviation experience, beginning in 1973 at Murray, Kentucky. He completed his first FAA flight instructor certificate in 1978 in Honolulu, Hawaii. Rutland attended the U.S. Army flight school in 1975 and is a Master Army Aviator. He is also a U.S. Coast Guard aviator, having served as a search and rescue pilot stationed in Los Angeles, California. Rutland has 38 years of experience as a government civilian flight instructor for the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence in Fort Novosel, Alabama.

Rutland holds three airline transport pilot ratings (ASEL, AMEL, and helicopter), five FAA flight instructor ratings (CFI-ASEL, AMEL, helicopter, CFII airplane and helicopter), and two type ratings. At Fort Novosel, Rutland completed ten different military instructor pilot courses. He has flown 27 different aircraft, with 21,000 accident-free flight hours. Rutland has almost 20,000 hours in the cockpit training flight students — 17,250 in flight and 2,200 in full motion simulators. He has almost 40 years in the classroom teaching ground school and has served as a mentor to countless military and civilian flight instructors.

Rutland has trained officers from the five branches of the United States armed forces. He has trained military flight students of every rank from warrant officer candidate to Master warrant officer five, and from second lieutenant to colonel. Flight instruction programs taught include primary, instrument, combat skills, aero scout, night vision goggles, advanced aircraft, and instructor pilot qualification in five different military aircraft. He has served as a UH-60 standardization instructor pilot and instrument flight examiner.

Working part-time under 14 CFR Part 141 and 61 flight schools, he has trained airplane single and multiengine land student pilots for private, commercial, instrument, airline transport pilot, and CFI, CFII, and MEI certificates.

Over his career, Rutland has earned awards including the Embry-Riddle Alumni Achievement Award, three-time FAA Regional Flight Instructor of the Year, Department of the Army Civilian of the Year Award, Department of the Army Superior Civilian Service Award for 28 years of service, Order of St. Michael Award for significant service to Army aviation, and the Sikorsky Helicopter Rescue Award.

Click to Download Steve's Press Release!

Kaitlyn Gallegos, MCFI 3/2024-3/2026:

Gallegos’ journey in aviation began at age 14 when she enrolled in a local community college private pilot ground school course. With an aced final exam, Gallegos’ conviction to pursue a career in aviation was solidified.

Her pursuit of excellence continued with the AOPA AV8RS scholarship, which propelled her into flight training at age 15. She achieved her private pilot certificate at Palomar Airport (KCRQ) at age 17. She enrolled at Southern Utah University (SUU), flying out of Cedar City (KCDC), where she acquired her instrument rating at 18, followed by commercial, CFI, and CFII certificates by age 19. This achievement positioned her as one of 21 female CFIs aged 18-19 in the nation at the time.

Gallegos earned a bachelor’s degree in aviation sciences and a master’s degree in business administration. She transitioned into a full-time position as a flight instructor for SUU Aviation and became a Gold Seal flight instructor at age 21, a testament to her skill and dedication.

In addition to her instructional duties, Gallegos’ leadership within the SUU aviation community was evident when she assumed the role of assistant chief flight instructor at age 21, becoming one of the youngest female chief instructors of a Part 141 flight program in the United States. Her efforts extend beyond the cockpit, as she actively participates in SUU's Women in Aviation chapter and aviation conferences.

Gallegos’ passion for nurturing the next generation of aviators shines through in her teaching philosophy, where she prioritizes the safety and enjoyment of her students above all else. Beyond her aviation pursuits, Gallegos finds solace in the natural beauty of Southern Utah, often exploring its national parks and back country with her dog, June. Ultimately, Gallegos’ aspiration is to serve as a beacon of inspiration for the next generation of aviators, particularly girls, encouraging them to pursue excellence and embrace the boundless opportunities within the realm of aviation.

Click to Download Kaitlyn's Press Release!

Carlos Rivera, MCFI 3/2024-3/2026:

Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, Rivera’s dream of flying began at the age of five. When he wrote an essay in the 6th grade claiming he’d be a military instructor pilot, most of his classmates laughed at him. Rivera took first flight in a Cessna 172 at age 15 flying to the Poconos in Pennsylvania. He began flight lessons at age 19, riding his bike 10 miles to Flanders Valley Airport in New Jersey. He soloed in a Cessna 150 at age 20 on an amazing July afternoon.

Rivera joined the United States Army at age 21 as a helicopter crew chief and eventually became an Aeroscout Observer and entered U.S. Army flight school at age 28. He graduated as a Distinguished Honor Graduate and realized his dream of 21 years by becoming a military helicopter instructor pilot at 28 years old.

After an incredible career flying as a news helicopter pilot in New York City, covering events from September 11 to the Miracle on the Hudson, Rivera earned two Emmy awards. After 10 years of intense flying, he become an EMS helicopter pilot in southwest Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee for 11 years.
Riviera rekindled his instructor dream after meeting a retired designated pilot examiner who mentored and encouraged him to earn his civilian CFI in helicopters, followed by airplane instrument, commercial, and CFI at age 57. Ray earned his CFII and IGI at age 59, and CFI-NVG, ME, MEI at age 60. He became a tailwheel instructor at age 61. Ray is now working on his ATP-ME and AGI.

Currently Riviera has 13 students in all phases of flight from private pilot through CFI.

In 42 years, he has accumulated over 2,000 hours of flight instruction and more than 15,000 total hours. He gives back to the local aviation community as an EAA Young Eagles pilot and FAASTeam representative.

Click to Download Carlos' Press Release!

Vitor Neves NAFI Associate MCFI

Vitor Neves, Associate MCFI 3/2024-3/2026:

Vitor Barros Leite da Costa Neves hails from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. From a young age, Neves harbored a passion for travel, which steered him towards the world of aviation. This intrinsic interest led him to pursue a degree in aeronautical sciences in Rio de Janeiro, laying the foundation for his aviation career.

After completing his initial studies, Neves moved to San Diego and began flight training at Gillespie Field and went on to earn his flight instructor certificate in South Florida. Driven by a desire to give back to the flight school where he had learned so much, Neves returned to San Diego to instruct aspiring pilots from around the globe. Over the years, he had the privilege of teaching a range of students from private to commercial in both single and multi-engine aircraft, enriching his professional experience in the process.

Seeking to expand his academic and professional horizons, Neves enrolled at Cypress College, earning associate degrees in aviation management and commercial pilot. Concurrently, he began instructing at Fullerton Airport, where he was exposed to the multifaceted nature of the aviation industry. Teaching at a Part 61 school gave Neves the opportunity to share his expertise with eager learners. He gained valuable insights into the business operations of a smaller aviation institution, where teamwork and adaptability are paramount.

In 2023, Neves embraced a new challenge by joining a Part 135 operations team piloting the King Air 350. Outside of his aviation activities, Neves enjoys surfing, snowboarding, and traveling with his fiancée and family.

Click to Download Vitor's Press Release!

Howard Greenberg NAFI Associate MCFI

Howard Greenberg, Associate MCFI 3/2024-3/2026:

Greenberg dreamed of flying from a young age, kindled in part by a fascination with WWII aviation. With limited knowledge of civilian pilot opportunities and military aviation not an option due to corrected vision, he became an accountant. After college, he started flying lessons at Boca Raton Airport in Florida and earned his private pilot certificate in 1981. Greenberg earned a degree in computer systems and worked for IBM for 12 years. He founded a computer consulting company, and in his spare time earned an instrument rating and commercial certificate.

He became a CFI in 1994, followed by CFII and single engine ATP rating. When the FAA changed the ATP requirements in 2014, he earned a multi-engine rating, followed by MEI ATP. Greenberg got a SIC rating in the Citation 500 series and flew as a part time contract pilot. He began flying professionally full-time for Delta Private Jets in 2019. He got his Citation CE-525 PIC rating at FlightSafety International and worked there for a year.

Greenberg is a part time flight instructor at Lynn University’s aviation program. He helps run the Boca Raton Pilots Association and arranges monthly educational meetings where participants may earn WINGS credit. Greenberg attends EAA AirVenture every year and enjoys volunteering at the EAA Pilot Proficiency Center.

Greenberg is currently building a Vans RV-10 and is active in a Cessna182 partnership. He is a volunteer pilot with LightHawk, flying conservation missions. Greenberg said, "I am very grateful to all the great instructors who have shared not only their knowledge, but their love of aviation." He is especially thankful to Bob Shine and Bill Craddock, his instructors during his early years in aviation.

Click to Download Howard's Press Release!