Meet Our NAFI Master Instructors (A-G By Last Name)

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Chris Anderson NAFI MCFIChristopher Anderson, MCFI 12/2000-1/2023

This is Anderson’s 11th NAFI Master Accreditation. Anderson was flying before he could walk. Growing up in an aviation family around grass strips and Bell 47s, Anderson followed his dad into aviation. He started flying professionally in 1986 at a charter operation. After pumping down the gear and a couple of engine failures, he quit that job and started Progressive Air and taught full-time until finding a job at a better charter company. Hanging around airports and flying at nearly every opportunity led to a job for a Fortune 100 company flying Falcons and Challengers, and teaching in a couple of area flying clubs.

Somewhere in there, he says he met a wonderful woman who is mostly tolerant of his aviation addiction. They have been married for 31 years they have three children.

Of course, he says, just as the fun began, the company downsized the flight department leading him to a small airline flying DC-9s and Boeing 717s. After a stint bopping from right seat to left seat, the commercial operation became a victim of mergers in the late 2000s. By this point Anderson had settled in southern Wisconsin with 20 years of CFI experience and a fresh DPE certificate. He started restoring his Citabria in the home garage, in between work and teaching. It only took 13 years to move the plane out of the garage.

After the airline gig, Anderson found himself back in the corporate wording flying Hawkers and Challengers. He was also teaching for a “non-profit” Part 61/141 flight school. He then revived Progressive Air, Inc. and started teaching and giving check rides independently. Working with two of his best A&P mechanics, Anderson helped restored a couple of Bell 47s.

He holds an ATP pilot certificate with airplane, helicopter, glider, seaplane and gyroplane rating. As a DPE in airplanes and helicopters he has conducted over 2,100 check rides.

Anderson can be found at fly-in pancake breakfasts and every summer at EAA AirVenture. Beyond work, his hobbies include flying, talking to sparkplugs and filling out IACRA paperwork. His favorite passenger is his son’s dog, a mutt named Bendix King.

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Ben Atnip NAFi MCFIBenjamin Atnip, MCFI 02/2016-11/2023:

This is Atnip’s third NAFI Master Accreditation. Atnip, Gold Seal, CFI, CFII, MEI, ATP AMEL & ASEL, has been teaching since 2005. He attended Utah Valley University. He worked in the construction industry growing up and started flying when he was 19. Atnip’s first flight job was working in Tulsa, Oklahoma where he taught private through commercial students. He then moved back to his hometown, Cody, Wyoming and started a flight school with a local FBO, Choice Aviation. At first, he was the only instructor, with one airplane, but it quickly grew. The flight school and Part 135 operation now employs 22 pilots and has a fleet of airplanes ranging from a Super Cub to a Citation CJ3. Atnip is the Director of Flight Operations for Choice Aviation and is connected with the collegiate program at Northwest College. He also does Aerial Firefighting, Air Ambulance Operations, On-demand Charter, and turbine transition courses for King Air, Meridian and Kodiak. Atnip also is an FAA Pilot Examiner (DPE) for the Denver FSDO and conducts checkrides for Private - ATP and CFI - MEI.

Atnip has a passion to teach and has acquired around 12,000 hours with over 4,700 hours of instruction given. He teaches a variety of courses, but specializes in spin training, tailwheel courses, mountain flying, Cirrus CSIP instruction as well as insurance-approved turbine courses. He is married to Alyssa and they have two daughters ages 5 and 2. In his spare time, he also enjoys skiing, playing the banjo, chess, ping-pong and volleyball.

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James Archer MCFIJames Archer, MCFI 9/2020-10/2024:

This is Archer’s second NAFI Master Accreditation.

Archer is a certificated airline transport pilot for multi and single engine land aircraft. With more than 14 years as an instructor, he holds training certificates in instrument, single, and multi-engine aircraft as well as instrument and advanced ground instructor. Archer specializes in instrument training, instrument proficiency checks, flight reviews, and advanced ratings and certificates. He says he enjoys teaching aeronautical decision making, safety, and professionalism. His aviation experience encompasses 200 aircraft models including cabin class aircraft and the Beechcraft King Air 90. He has also received ground and flight training for the Boeing 737.

In August 2020, Archer was approved as a FAASTeam Representative and assigned as a remedial CFI by the FAA Atlanta FAASTeam Program Manager. Other activities include assisting the Transportation Education Foundation of Georgia with advanced flight and ground training curriculum development, as well as with SkillsUSA Georgia Conferences.

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Joseph R. Bertapelle NAFI MCFIJoseph R. Bertapelle, MCFI 12/2020-12/2022:

Bertapelle owns the Augusta Flight Center, a flight school at August Municipal Airport in Augusta, Kansas. He arrived in Wichita in late 2006 as a KC-135 navigator for the United States Air Force, going on multiple TDYs and seven deployments. He became a USAF Instructor and Evaluator for the Navigator Schoolhouse, obtaining several squadron and group level awards. Bertapelle received Honorary Discharge from the air force in 2012 as captain for mission-planning software, working on base as an independent contractor for another 7 years to support both the KC-135 and the new KC-46.

He created Joe Bravo Aviation, LLC. to diversify his student base and offer flight instruction to the public. Teaching flight instruction at multiple airports in his spare time, his bolstered reputation afforded him the opportunity to teach at Beechcraft’s Cessna Flying Club; a rare exception to its employee-only stipulation. In 2019, Bertapelle was sought out to teach at Flight Safety International in the Caravan G1000 program until 2020 when downsizing from the COVID-19 pandemic furloughed him. Through this seemingly unfortunate circumstance, he has been able to focus his efforts entirely on Augusta Flight Center, becoming its owner in August 2020. It now has a current fleet of 11 planes, ranging from the Cessna 172 through the Beech Sierra. He is checked out in over 50 different models of GA aircraft and routinely travels to meet students, maintaining a competitive level of expertise, proficiency, and flexibility. He offers instruction of all levels on advanced avionics in aircraft, aerobatic maneuvers, commercial, IFR, tailwheel, and upset training. He has his CFI, CFII, MEII, AGI, Remote Pilot, Aircraft Dispatcher, Gold Seal Certificates, and is the Vice President of IAC 119 chapter, which recently awarded four Aerobatic Scholarships to AFC to help students pursue their dreams of aerobatic instruction.

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Craig Blumer NAFI MCFICraig Blumer, MCFI 12/2021-12/2023

Blumer started teaching in 2009 at Indian Hills Community College in Ottumwa, Iowa.  Instructing part-time in airplanes, Blumer pursued soaring operations and instructed in gliders on his downtime.  He earned a gold seal with a combination of glider and airplane students in 2012.

He departed instruction to pursue airship operations and operated various blimps over national events such as the Super Bowl.  Directing blimps around the United States, Blumer obtained an MEI, single engine seaplane rating, multi engine ATP, and started training coworkers to operate airships.  He earned a master CFI in 2014 and was the first blimp pilot to obtain the accreditation.

Blumer pursued air traffic control and obtained ratings in the terminal environment for radar and tower operations.  He worked at the Springfield, Illinois tower and trained controllers for air traffic ratings at KSPI.  He conducts briefings specializing in air traffic communications and procedures as a FAASTeam Representative.  He delivers these briefings in-person and online to groups of pilots.

As an air traffic controller, Blumer continued flight instructing in his 1946 Piper J3 Cub.  He offers tailwheel training and sponsors the annual Jane Berg Tailwheel Scholarship.  The selected scholarship applicant receives training and obtains a tailwheel endorsement.

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John Boos NAFI MCFIJohn Boos, MCFI 9/2019-1/2024:

This is Boos’ second consecutive NAFI Master accreditation. Boos is a Gold Seal CFI, CFII, MEI and is Chief Flight Instructor at Skill Aviation in Waukegan, Illinois, at KUGN. Boos started flying in 2013 and says he was hooked on aviation from the first lesson. He transitioned into full-time flight instruction in 2016, migrating from a career in electronic engineering. He is a FAA Safety Team Representative and holds an AGI and IGI. At Skill Aviation, he mentors CFIs and runs stage checks and mock checkrides. He refreshed Skill’s Part 61 Private and Instrument syllabuses and developed a tool to generate intermediate milestone dates for students who are on tight end-date timelines. He also developed an accelerated combined commercial-CFI course and numerous educational aids for the school.

In his spare time, Boos and his wife enjoy traveling in their Piper Turbo Arrow. He is an active amateur radio operator and enjoys morse code, which came in handy to identify VORs and localizers. Boos holds a BSEE from UW-Madison, a University of Chicago MBA, and holds eight U.S. Patents. He volunteers with the local Boy Scouts organization as an Aviation Merit Badge Counselor.

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Leo Burke NAFI Master InstructorLeo Burke, MCFI 6/2021-6/2023

Burke has pursued aviation since joining the Civil Air Patrol as a teenager. His first solo was in an airplane in July 1986. He earned his private pilot certificate in January 1987.   He has honed his skills and continued to add experiences and ratings. He has been a flight instructor since 2008 and added his CFII on January 1, 2021. His most recent solo was in June 2021, in a Schweizer TG-7A motor glider – he is currently pursuing his commercial glider and glider CFI ratings.

Burke volunteers as a CAP check pilot, instructor pilot and mission pilot. He conducts primary flight training for 15-to 20-Year-old cadets; as well as G1000 transitions and mission pilot skills to adult members.  He is a colonel in the CAP, having commanded at the squadron, group and wing levels. He has amassed nearly 1800 flight hours volunteering with CAP – including almost 650 hours of dual instruction given.  
In 2006, Burke was the aircraft commander of the first CAP aircrew to be awarded the 1st Air Force/AFNORTH Commander’s Award for the CAP Mission of Distinction. In 2019, he was named Michigan Wing’s Distinguished Aviator. 

A good deal of his 3100+ hours of flying are unusual. He has flown hundreds of Search and Rescue, Homeland Security and Disaster Relief Missions.

As a reserve deputy sheriff in Macomb County, MI, he has also volunteered as an instructor, chief of training and safety for the Sheriff’s Aviation Reserve Unit since 2008.  
Burke also specializes in providing instruction in all models of Navion aircraft.  
As soon as they are tall enough to reach the pedals, he intends to teach both of his grandsons how to fly.   

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Mark Cook NAFI Master Flight InstructorMark Cook, MCFI 11/2019-2/2024:

This is Cook’s second NAFI Master Instructor accreditation. Cook says he knew he wanted to be a pilot since junior high.  He started his professional pilot career as “freight dog” flying for a regional shipping company. Cook is currently working as contract pilot for three construction companies. He specializes in single-engine turbines, including Pilatus PC12s and Socata TBM aircraft. He has flown over 9,400 hours with 2,600 hours of dual instruction given, and piloted 64 different types of airplanes.

Working as an independent flight instructor, he is an active CFI who has a special fondness for tail wheel, ski and float plane instruction.  As a Minneapolis FSDO, FAA Safety Team Representative and NAFI Master Flight Instructor, Cook has hosted and presented aviation safety seminars throughout northern Minnesota, on topics ranging from winter operations to airplane performance.  He enjoys flying in his Champion 7GCB float-plane on his free days.

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Ty Corfield NAFI MCFITy Corfield, MCFI 7/2022-7/2024:

Corfield’s interest in aviation began while he was studying at Florida State University. One of his professors was a board member of a popular amphibious light-sport startup, and the thought of flying for a living began to sound exciting.

After graduating, Corfield decided to attend ATP Flight School in Jacksonville, Florida. Success in the program led to the offer of a CFI position at ATP. He has held various roles over the past few years — primary instructor, flight standards instructor, curriculum developer, and multi-engine instructor.

Corfield has enjoyed the challenges and excitement that ATP and the world of aviation has offered him so far. He is currently exploring future opportunities and said he can't wait to continue to learn and grow with the best office view in the world.

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Alexander CrosettLex Crossett NAFI MCFI, MCFI 4/2022-4/2024:

Crosett has been flight instructing since the age of 18 and enjoys working with pilots at every learning stage.  He’s currently teaching in Cirrus aircraft as a Cirrus Standardized Instructor Pilot (CSIP) at Mike Goulian Aviation, a Platinum Cirrus Training Center in the Boston area. He says working for Mike Goulian and with his team has been the highlight of his flight instruction career.

With more than 4,300 hours of flight time and over 1,300 hours of instruction, Crosett is rated as a FAA Gold Seal Flight Instructor. He holds Airline Transport Pilot and Flight Instructor certificates in both airplanes and helicopters and is an Advanced and Instrument Ground Instructor.

In addition to flight instructing to pay for his college education, Crosett flew for air ambulance, freight, and charter organizations, and for a Part 121 commuter airline in New England.  Lex is also a Cirrus SR22 owner and active Angel Flight command pilot.

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Aaron Dabney NAFI Master InstructorAaron Dabney, MCFI 8/2013-12/2023:

This is Dabney’s fifth consecutive NAFI Master accreditation and distinguishes him as a Bronze Master Legacy Instructor.

An active flight instructor since 2009 and a Master Flight Instructor since 2013, Dabney was born and raised in Victoria, Texas. As a youngster his weekends were spent at the feet of the World War Two veterans and plant workers who populated the coffee circle of the local grass strip, Ball Airport. Before leaving for college Dabney soloed in his family’s 1946 Piper Cub, and he is now proud to be the caretaker of that same airplane.

Since 2013, Dabney and his wife Alisa have owned Waco Flight Training in Waco, Texas. He prides himself on training staff instructors to marry “old school” stick-and-rudder flying to modern pedagogy, and considers building the General Aviation community in his area to be an essential part of his mission.

Dabney earned both his bachelor of arts and master of science degree in education at Baylor University. Since 2010 he has served as adjunct faculty in that institution’s Aviation Science program, teaching both freshman and upper-level courses and serving as assistant chief ground instructor.

Dabney is an active volunteer in multiple capacities with NAFI, and is a proud Lifetime Member of the Experimental Aircraft Association. When he’s not flying or teaching, he and his wife of 17 years love to travel and share their passion for small business ownership with others.

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Andrew Dow Master Flight Instructor Andrew Dow, MGI 2/2013-3/2023, MCFI 2/2011-3/2023:

This is Dow’s sixth consecutive NAFI Master Instructor Accreditation and fifth consecutive NAFI Master Ground Instructor Accreditation.

Dow started his career in aviation in 2003 working as a flight instructor for Great River Aviation in Quincy, IL. It was during this job that he discovered his true passion of teaching others how to fly. Dow worked his way through the roles of Assistant Chief Flight Instructor to Chief Flight Instructor in the flight schools FAA Part 141 Program and became the Chief Pilot and the Director of Operations for its Part 135 Charter certificate. He also started working at Quincy University as an adjunct instructor of aviation in 2005 and eventually became an Assistant Professor of Aviation.

In 2017 Dow became a FAA Designated Pilot Examiner for the Springfield, IL FSDO, conducting pilot practical test examinations for various pilot certificates and ratings. As of this writing he has administered over 600 practical tests and enjoys giving back to the aviation industry, which he says “has given me so much over the years.”

Dow earned his Eagle Scout from the Boy Scout of America several years ago, and is an Aviation Merit Badge Counselor, helping 87 Boy Scouts earn their Aviation merit badge to date. He also is a FAASTeam Representative for the Springfield, IL District Office hosting and presenting aviation safety seminars throughout the region. Dow belongs to several aviation organizations and currently serve on the Board of Directors for the Illinois Aviation Trades Association.

In 2014, Dow was awarded the “Brown Jacket Award” at the EAA AirVenture from the IMC Club. He was also awarded the “Coach of the Year” award by the National Intercollegiate Flying Association for Region VIII during the 2014 and 2016 SAFECON competitions, and was recently honored as a “Distinguished Flight Instructor” through AOPA’s Flight Training Experience Award in both 2017 and 2018.

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Anderson Dowling, Associate MCFI 9/2022-9/2024:

Dowling’s career in aviation stemmed from a childhood passion for flight. As he approached age 30, Dowling decided to pursue his lifelong dream of becoming a pilot. He began flight training in October 2019 and nine months later was a certificated flight instructor. Dowling instructed out of Orlando Executive Airport for more than a year and then moved to Charlotte, North Carolina where he currently instructs at Lake Norman Airpark (14A).

Dowling said, “The success of my students is my greatest motivation, but the challenge of adapting to different learning styles is my favorite part of the job.” He said his plan is to eventually fly for the airlines but hopes to continue his instructing career either in simulators or the flight deck as a Line Check Airman.

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William E. Dubois, MGI 01/2020-01/2024:

This is Dubois’ Second consecutive NAFI Master Instructor accreditation.William E. Dubois is a CFI Academy ground instructor for Airline Transport Professionals (ATP) at the company’s KAPA location, where he helps to prepare new CFI candidates for their initial practical test. Dubois serves largely in a “teach the teacher” role, helping future instructors hone their classroom and cockpit education skills during ten-day intensive ground courses. He also travels the country for AOPA’s You Can Fly initiative, teaching Rusty Pilot seminars as one of the organization’s professional presenters.

Dubois, who’s been a FAA Certified Advanced and Instrument Ground Instructor since 1984, also holds a commercial pilot certificate with an instrument rating, and has a degree in Aviation Technology.

In addition to instructing, Dubois is a prolific aviation writer whose credits include AOPA Pilot, CFI to CFI, EAA Sport Aviation, FAA Safety Briefing, Flight Training, Flying, Redbird Landing, Sun ‘n Fun Today, and The Pulse of Aviation. He pens Questions from the Cockpit, a monthly reader Q&A column for General Aviation News.

On the flying front, Dubois holds both a World and a National speed record; and is active with the Sport Air Racing League (SARL), where he’s a two-time national champion. An aviation history buff who has a fondness for old and antique airplanes, he recently chronicled his adventures re-flying one third of the transcontinental airmail route—using nothing but the 100-year-old written instructions—for Smithsonian Air & Space magazine.

In addition to NAFI, Dubois is a long-time AOPA member, and is a lifetime member of the Ercoupe Owners Club.

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Brandon gardner NAFI MCFIBrandon Gardner, MCFI 9/2022-9/2024:

Gardner developed a passion for aviation at the age of twelve after a flight in a Mooney as part of a program between the Boy Scouts of America and the EAA Young Eagles. Since then, his dream was to become a professional pilot.

Gardner is a graduate of The University of Central Florida College of Business Administration with a bachelor’s degree in business management. Gardner lives in Orlando and began flying at Orlando Executive Airport, where he obtained his pilot certificates and ratings. In 2019, he founded Premier Flight Solutions, which quickly developed into one of Orlando’s top flight training institutions and aircraft management companies.

Gardner is a three-time AOPA Distinguished Flight Instructor award winner, FAA Gold Seal Flight Instructor, and Bahamas Private Flying Ambassador. He is an active member of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), Seaplane Pilots Association (SPA), National Association of Flight Instructors (NAFI), American Bonanza Society (ABS), Cirrus Owners & Pilots Association (COPA), Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), Malibu M-Class Owners & Pilots Association (MMOPA), Mercy Flight Southeast (part of the Air Charity Network), and the Central Florida Business Aviation Association (CFBAA).

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MAHMOUD GHONIM NAFI Master Flight InstructorMahmoud Ghonim, MCFI 5/2021-5/2023

Ghonim says he was drawn to aviation from an early age. He learned to fly at Universal Air Academy in El Monte, California in 2012 where he earned his Private and Commercial AMEL with an instrument rating. He then immediately started working on obtaining his CFI, CFII, and MEI airplane.

He continued at Universal Air Academy where he worked as an instructor and earned a Gold Seal on his flight instructor certificate. Later, he became a check instructor in addition to taking responsibility of supervising the operations of the flight academy. He also worked as a corporate pilot where he earned his ATP and flew various types of airplanes including Gulfstream 550, Citation Sovereign, and Pilatus 12.

In 2019, he decided to gain Part 121 experience by venturing into the airlines. He is currently a Chief Instructor for Universal Air Academy, a Part 141 school in Southern California. He has been working as a CFI for almost 7 years and, in addition to his passion for aviation, he says he enjoys the training aspect and mentoring of new pilots.

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Fred Gibbs NAFI Master CFIFred L. Gibbs, MCFI 12/2020-12/2022:

Gibbs’ actual aviation career started in 1971 when he was hired by the FAA, and started out in the flight service station in Williamsport, PA, the home of Lycoming Aircraft engines and right down the street from Lockhaven, the birthplace of Piper Aircraft. He put his flight service knowledge to work for the local FBO, trading knowledge (in ground school teaching) for flight time, and as a student pilot, “hob-knobbing” with all the Piper test pilots and gaining experience flying all over the East coast with his instructors delivering Lycoming engine parts late at night. Gibbs actually worked with the local “GADO” offices back then, doing education programs with the same examiners he flew with for his ratings, and even flew within the FAA’s internal 4040.9 flight programs, one of the very few from within the Air Traffic organization actually allowed in! Gibbs eventually qualified for the Airline Transport Pilot certificate under that internal FAA program.

Gibbs holds an ATP CFII ASMEL Gold Seal, with over 17,500 hours of flight time, and over 13,200 hours of instructor time. He has been an instrument flight instructor (CFII-SMEL) since 1976, as well as a certified Cirrus Factory-certified flight instructor since 2008. After retiring from the FAA, Gibbs became the assistant chief pilot at the Freeway, MD airport, a very active Part 141 flight school in Maryland. Upon relocating to Flagstaff, AZ, he assumed the role of Director/Chief Flight Instructor at the local FBO there. Gibbs has flown about every GA aircraft around, has extensive conventional gear experience, and is a very experienced instrument instructor. Gibbs credits his FAA ATC and Flight Service Station experience and knowledge for much of the success and opportunities he has enjoyed through the years. He also owns and operates his own aircraft, a restored and meticulously maintained 1973 Bellanca Super Viking. Gibbs has flown under the FAA’s internal flying program, and has been an FAA safety counselor at large for the past 44 years. He is also a FAAST Team Lead Representative for the Scottsdale FSDO, active in the FAA’s “Wings” programs, serve on the Board of Directors for the Arizona Pilots Association, is the Safety and Education Director for the Arizona Pilots Association, and was a Captain in the Civil Air Patrol serving as the safety officer/check pilot for the local squadron in Flagstaff.

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Steve Goetz NAFI MCFISteven Goetz, MCFI 8/2011-10/2023:

This is Goetz’s sixth NAFI Master Accreditation. Goetz says he has been interested in flying since he was a kid. In his decade as a CFI, he’s earned an ATP, Remote Pilot – SUAS, gold seal CFI, CFII, MEI, AGI, IGI, and A&P. In 2008, he began flight instructing for Southern Illinois University Carbondale (SIUC), where he is currently an Assistant Professor and Assistant Chief Flight Instructor under their Part 141 certificate providing both flight training and student evaluation for the university. In addition to his work for SIUC, Goetz is a FAA Designated Pilot Examiner (DPE) as well as a FAA Safety Team Representative. Goetz also serves with the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) as a check pilot, mission pilot, and deputy commander for his local unit.

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