Meet Our NAFI Master Instructors (O-U By Last Name)

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Albert Obi NAFI MCFIAlbert Obi, MCFI 07/2021-07/2023:

Obi is a flight standards and check pilot for Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. He began his flying career with the Nigerian Air Force as a young pilot at 19 where he graduated at the top of his class. He was further trained by the United States Air Force as a fighter pilot before continuing his career as an air force pilot in Nigeria.

While Obi says he loves to fly at heart, he is also well educated in other disciplines. He holds an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering, a post graduate degree in aerospace engineering, and a master’s degree in unmanned autonomous systems engineering. Obi also holds a Master of Business Administration from the American Military University. Additionally, he holds several awards including the FAA Gold Seal, air force gold medal, as well as the top international graduating student in academics from the USAF UPT program in Columbus AFB, MS.

Born and bred in Nigeria, Obi is married to Amaka, and they are blessed with a daughter Alexis. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with his family, traveling and intellectual political discourses. Obi is a contributor to the world vision program and is a command pilot for Angel Flight Southeast.

He said he dedicated his Master CFI designation to his mum - Professor Patricia Obi,  who taught him the value of family, determination and self-reliance.

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Killian Ribeiro NAFI MCFIKillian Ribeiro 03/2022-03/2024:

It all began on Ribeiro’s roundtrip commercial flight in 2006 from his hometown Paris, France to Lisbon, Portugal when he was fortunate to be invited to visit the flight deck both directions. Since that day Ribeiro’s passion for aviation had continued to grow. He says that as a child, he used to fall asleep counting the airplanes passing in front of his window in the direction of Charles de Gaulle Airport on the outskirts of Paris. His dream of becoming a pilot materialized when he was accepted into Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida. Ribeiro’s passion for both the United States and aviation made Embry-Riddle an ideal choice. From Paris to Daytona Beach was the first step of a long journey.

Ribeiro had his first training flight on April 11th, 2017, his first solo on June 5th, 2017, and completed his private pilot certificate on July 11th, 2017. He then obtained his instrument rating on October 26th, 2017 and his commercial certificate on May 9th, 2018. Ribeiro was then fortunate to join the Embry-Riddle Fast Track summer program, where he completed both his CFI and CFII instructor certifications and in August 2018 became an ERAU flight instructor. Beginning part-time, Ribeiro transitioned to a full-time instructor position in May 2019. He then obtained his AGI in November 2020 and became an FAA Gold Seal flight instructor. Ribeiro became a flight standards check pilot at Embry-Riddle in February 2020, completed his MEI at Spruce Creek on June 11th, 2020, and transitioned to a full-time check pilot status in June 2021. Ribeiro was granted the position of Assistant Chief Flight Instructor at Embry-Riddle in November 2021.

Ribeiro obtained his Bachelor of Science in Aeronautical Science in two years and one semester as a Summa Cum Laude graduate from ERAU Daytona in May 2019, and received a Master of Business Administration in Aviation with an International Business specialization with Distinction at ERAU Worldwide in March 2021.  

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Jeanne Rieck, MCFI 01/2022-01/2024:

Rieck has been an active flight instructor since 2013 and owner of Airplane Rental Ventures in Mesa, Arizona. Her mission is to build confidence and a high skill level in her clients. She says what brings her joy is seeing a student solo successfully in the challenging, busy airport environment where she teaches. It is also rewarding when one of her former clients is able to conduct a flight review for her.

Rieck is a former special education teacher and administrator, she has a master’s degree in Special Education.  After 20 years in the classroom and leadership roles, she decided to take off on a new chapter and fell in love with flying at the first rotation. She says she loves an adventure, and the combination of flying and leading others to accomplish their aviation goals was a natural place for her to land.

Rieck has Commercial Single, Multi-Engine, Instrument, Seaplane, Tailwheel ratings; is a CFI, CFII, AGI; and participant in the Ninety-Nines Professional Pilot Leadership Initiative (PPLI) program. She owns two aircraft at Falcon Field in Mesa, a beautiful and demanding place to fly. When not flying, Rieck is exploring near the Grand Canyon with her husband at their off-grid cabin.

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Matthew Sawyer NAFI MCFIMatthew Sawyer, MCFI 9/2022-9/2024:

Like many pilots, Sawyer’s interest in aviation started at a young age. His grandmother would drive him and his sister to his parent’s business where they would pass a billboard every day advertising Air Force pilot careers. The billboard posed the question, “Why not you?” From that time, Sawyer knew he wanted to fly

Sawyer’s passion for aviation grew over the years and he was able to take his first flight in a Beechcraft Bonanza with a family friend when he was a teenager. Upon graduating from high school, Sawyer earned his private pilot certificate at Portsmouth International Airport at Pease in New Hampshire. His instructor introduced him to the Vermont Technical College (VTC) Professional Pilot Technology Program in Williston, Vermont. Sawyer enrolled in the spring of 2016 and earned his Bachelor of Science degree in May of 2019. Along the way, Sawyer earned his CFI, CFII, MEI, and SES certificates and ratings.

Sawyer was offered full time employment at Vermont Flight Academy (VFA) after graduating from VTC. He has created custom training syllabi for the Part 61 and 141 training courses at VFA, helped re-write its standard operating procedures, and most recently, helped VFA purchase a new Tecnam P92. The P92 is the first new airplane VFA has owned, and is the most fuel efficient and training-oriented aircraft in VFA’s fleet.

Sawyer has held multiple positions at VFA including front office staff, flight instructor, and lead flight instructor. Currently he serves two roles — assistant chief flight instructor and director of operations. He intends to continue building on VFA’s operations and lead the path forward to better, more economical and environmentally friendly flight training. Sawyer’s passion for general aviation runs deep and he hopes to leave a positive impact on the industry throughout his career.

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Jorge Sierra Rodriguez MCFIJorge Sierra Rodriguez, MGI 5/2022-5/2024:

Sierra's dream of flying began at a very young age. He had a mentor who instilled a taste for aviation as a job and lifestyle. At 18, he started his career as a student pilot in Colombia. In 2011, he won a scholarship to an aviation school in Kissimmee, Florida. He completed his FAA Commercial Pilot multi-engine license and returned to Colombia, where he was hired at 21 years old as a First Officer for Avianca Airlines. He flew the Airbus 320 and 330 and started flying the Boeing 787 in early 2015. By 2018, he was chosen as a B-787 Instructor for Flight Training Device and Ground School. Working closely with flight standards and training, Sierra has been participating in developing recurrent training programs, evaluations, and courses designed for B-787 pilots. He is currently a Subject Matter Expert in aircraft and special operations for the airline. During the Covid-19 crisis, Sierra led the training and instruction of the flight crew members selected to do the first flight in the airline's history from Colombia to China to transport medical supplies. He was also one of the members of the flight crew.

Sierra holds an FAA ATP license with an A-320 type rating, FAA Advanced and Instrument ground instructor, and remote pilot certificate. Additionally, he has an ICAO ATP License and ICAO Instructor License for Full Flight Simulator, Aircraft Systems and Operations, Aerodynamics, Aviation Weather, Navigation, and Human Factors.

He continued his academic education while working as a pilot instructor. In 2020, he obtained a bachelor's degree in Business Administration and was admitted to the Master of Business Administration in Aviation program at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University; he expects to graduate by October 2022. Sierra also graduated from U.S. DOT as an Advanced Safety Officer and Advanced Air Accident Investigator.

In 2022, the Colombian Association of Civil Aviators chose him to represent over 700 pilots of Colombia as Delegated Pilot Instructor at the U.S. World Aviation Training Summit. He was also hired by the worldwide provider of simulation-based training, CAE, as a B-787 Full Flight Simulator Instructor.

He said he is proud to have joined the FAA Safety Team, Latino Pilot Association, Professional Pilots of Tomorrow, MRAeS of the Royal Aeronautical Society, and a new member of the National Association of Flight Instructors.

Sierra is passionate about flight training, education, training systems design, aviation curriculum development, learning management systems, and adult learning. He sees himself in the future as a pilot and instructor for a U.S. Legacy carrier, and actively participating in the industry as a CBTA/EBT expert.

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Nick Schmall NAFI Master Instructor MCFINick Schmall, MCFI 3/2021-3/2023

While serving as a police officer in Memphis, Schmall began taking flight lessons for fun. The fun eventually morphed into a career change. After earning his commercial single and multi-engine land certificates, Schmall earned his CFI. He went on to earn his CFII, MEI, and AGI certificates. Schmall left the police department in February of 2019 and began working full time for a local flight school in Memphis.

As a full-time flight instructor Schmall has helped over 40 people earn certificates up to and including ATP. Schmall is a FAASTeam representative for the Memphis FSDO where he teaches safety related classes and aviation seminars. He also earned his Gold Seal Instructor from the FAA.

Schmall is active in the warbird community. He is a member of a Memphis based Fairchild PT-19 club where he flies the WWII basic trainer. He is also an active member of the Commemorative Air Force. Schmall flies a North American AT-6 and holds a formation wing card with the North American Training Association. He says he really enjoys taking people for rides in warbirds and flying formation with friends.

Schmall earned a Bachelor of Science in Aeronautics with a minor in Aviation Safety from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. He is currently working on a Master of Science in Aeronautics and expects to graduate in December of 2021. He holds an ATP multi-engine certificate and flies a Citation Excel for a Part 135 charter company. While flying jets is a new adventure, he says he still enjoys instructing and does so part time when he is home.

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Jerrold Seckler NAFI MGIJerrold Seckler, MGI 8/2015-12/2023:

This is Seckler’s fourth consecutive NAFI Master accreditation. Seckler has been flying for 53 years.  During that time, he has amassed over 7,000 hours in a variety of General Aviation aircraft. Seckler holds an ATP certificate as well as CFII, AGI and IGI certificates.

Seckler is a former Board Member of the Cirrus Owners and PIlot's Association and served as Dean of the College of Flight Operations of COPA University, the training and education arm of that organization, for 5 years. Currently he is the President of the Board of Trustees of the COPA Safety and Education Foundation which supports COPA University and sponsors multiple training events for pilots of Technologically Advanced Aircraft. He regularly teaches at the Cirrus Pilot Proficiency Programs and presents classes on aviation weather, preflight briefings, instrument procedures, regulations, and aeronautical decision making. He has also flown over 100 flights for Angel Flight Central and serves on AFC’s Safety Committee.

Two years ago, he was honored to receive the FAA’s Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award for 50 years of safe flying.

In a previous life Seckler was a urologic surgeon as well as a FAA Aviation Medical Examiner. Seckler owns a 2001 Cirrus SR22 which he has flown for over 3,000 hours.

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Thomas Stehler NAFI MCFIThomas Stehler, MCFI 4/2021-4/2023

A native of the St. Paul area, Stehler attended Purdue University, where he acted as a corporate pilot and check instructor after graduation.  He also founded Purdue’s winning team for the newly formed collegiate class of the EAA’s AirVenture Cup Race in 2019.  Stehler is now a First Officer on the Boeing 737 at Sun Country Airlines, as well as the Chief Flight Instructor at Lake Elmo Aero in Lake Elmo, MN.  He has experience in a multitude of different single and multi-engine aircraft, with over 1000 hours of flight instruction given.




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Jedediah Stone Associate NAFI MCFIJedediah Stone, Associate MCFI 3/2021-3/2023:

Stone was raised in North Pole, Alaska. It was there, working as a wildland firefighter where he says he discovered the joys and possibilities of aviation, specifically involved with flying helicopters. He then spent the next several years working in the summers to save up so he could fly in the winters and inch closer to his goals.

In the summer of 2018 Stone received his CFII rating and started his career as a flight instructor north of New Mexico and slightly south of Wyoming. He has thus far spent a year and a half teaching the newest crop of helicopter pilots the finer points of aviation, safety, and professionalism.

Stone says he enjoys helping the next generation learn to be safe, knowledgeable, and competent pilots because we all know we will someday somewhere share the airspace with them. He hopes that everyone achieves their dreams of flying because all of us understand just how amazing it really is. He adds that he is committed to continuing his learning and growth as a pilot, instructor, mentor, and person so that he may help as many of them as possible.

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Thomas Summers NAFI MCFIThomas Summers, MCFI 3/2021-3/2023:

In the spring of 2015, while working as a grocery store manager, Summers’ wife bought him an introductory flight in Maryland, setting him on the path of aviation. He and his family moved to the Louisville area, where he began flight school in October of 2017. As a student, he learned to fly at ATP, where he earned his private and commercial ASEL and AMEL with an instrument rating. He also earned his CFI, CFI-I, and MEI.

After finishing the program, he continued with ATP as an instructor, where he earned a Gold Seal on his flight instructor certificate and was promoted to Standardization Instructor for his training center, flying the Piper Archer and Seminole. There, he had the opportunity to work with a number of talented pilots training them from student pilots through MEI. While instructing, Summers also obtained his AGI and IGI.

Summers then accepted a job with ATP as a CFI Academy Ground School Instructor, training initial CFI initial applicants to become instructors. He says tyhe fun part of that job is working with students not just from his local region, but with pilots from across the country who bring different experiences and perspectives to the classroom.

Summers is now in training for a Part 121 first officer position, and says he is loving the classroom experience again, but is excited to be able to get back to instructing when the time is right.

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Naoya ‘Tama’ Tamanaha NAFI MCFINaoya ‘Tama’ Tamanaha , MCFI 07/2021-07/2023:

This is Tamanaha’s second NAFI Master Accreditation.

In 1991, Tama left Japan to become a pilot in the United States. Overwhelmed by the generosity of the U.S. skies and the scale of the aviation communities, he earned his CFI and CFII, and returned to Japan fascinated by American aviation culture. Although he earned his commercial pilot license in Japan, there were no jobs in Japan in that era, but a connection with a flight training center of a U.S. military base in Japan led him to start his pilot career. He says it is no exaggeration to say that he has been supported by the generosity of the United States since returning to Japan. He has trained over 700 pilots as an instructor and has issued over 200 FAA pilot certificates or ratings as a DPE at the U.S. military base in Japan. He added his glider and single engine seaplane ratings in Hawaii.

In 2009, He founded a flight school specializing in flight simulator training to introduce American-style training to the Japanese aviation industry.  He continues to expand the base of his activities to connect Asia and the United States from the perspective of pilot training.

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