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A Message to Our Members and Supporters

There were 18 of us sitting on the floor with a tape recorder running. It was December 1963, and we were all attending an AOPA Flight Training Clinic Directors seminar, organized by Jack Eggspuehler, chair of the School of Aviation at Ohio State University.

We’d just listened to a lecture by Professor Jack Frymier on professionalism, and we were inspired. We all agreed that the aviation industry needed a professional flight instructor organization, and in 1967, the National Association of Flight Instructors was officially born.

In the early years, NAFI survived and grew thanks to volunteers who would pass the books from basement to basement, supporters like Ralph Nelson, who headed up the AOPA Air Safety Foundation, and Jack Eggspuehler. Ralph and Jack would “bootleg” human and financial resources from their respective organizations to keep NAFI going.

In 1995, Tom Poberezny stepped up and invited NAFI to affiliate with EAA. While we remained a separate legal entity, EAA took us in and supplied resources that allowed us to hire our first professional staff. Thanks to EAA, we’ve experienced many improvements, and our membership has more than doubled. While EAA provided us oversight, the executive director answered directly to our board of directors.

EAA recently proposed that we be totally integrated into—and managed by—their organization; the NAFI board would become an advisory board. After three months of e-mails, teleconferencing, gut-wrenching debate, and personal contact with our members, sponsors, and supporters, we’ve chosen to once again become independent. It’s important that this organization remain focused on serving professional flight instructors and other “teachers of flight.”

We’re eternally grateful to the EAA membership, staff, and EAA board of directors for the many ways they’ve worked to benefit our organization over the past 15 years. Over the next eight months, we’ll be working with an EAA team to affect a smooth and orderly transition of our finances and operations, including our website and publications. At the same time, we’re dedicated to working with EAA in the many areas where we have mutual interests, such as the Young Eagles and Learn to Fly programs, as well as AirVenture and the Flight Instructor Hall of Fame.

Many of you are members of NAFI for the benefits we offer. Others may support us because you believe in the importance of our mission; indeed, it’s a way to give back to the world of flight that we all love so much. For all of you, I encourage you to consider what talents you can offer your industry. We want you to be involved in an independent NAFI, and we will soon communicate specific ways that you can help us through our member-committee programs.

In the days ahead, we’ll experience many changes, and we ask for your continued support, whether it is membership, sponsorship, or volunteering. Together, we’ll work to make the flight-training industry great.

Ken E. Hoffman
National Association of Flight Instructors