Flight Instructor Hall of Fame Award Program

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Congratulations 2022 Flight Instructor Hall of Fame Inductees Catherine Cavagnaro and Ron Timmermans! Induction will take place at the American Bonanza Society Membership Dinner during EAA AirVenture 2022

Read the 2022 inductee announcement press release.

Catherine Cavagnaro2022 Catherine Cavagnaro

Catherine Cavagnaro is recognized as an expert on spins and aerobatics and teaches pilots from all over the United States and beyond at Ace Aerobatic School in Sewanee, Tennessee.  She writes the “Flying Smart” column for AOPA Pilot Magazine that addresses topics of safety, efficiency, proficiency, and the science of flight.  Catherine holds ATP, commercial and CFI-I certificates while also serving as a designated pilot examiner and FAA lead safety representative for the Nashville FSDO.

The General Aviation Awards Committee recognized Catherine in 2018 as the FAA Safety Representative of the Year, and  the FAA Certificated Flight Instructor of the Year in 2020. In 2018, Catherine was also inducted into the Tennessee Aviation Hall of Fame and earned the Award for Exemplary Teaching by Sewanee: The University of the South where she is Professor of Mathematics.

Catherine’s aviation career began later than she would have liked but she is making up for lost time. She grew up fascinated by the military aircraft that approached Moffett Field over her house in Sunnyvale, California. Catherine experienced the joy of flight early during regular trips to Ireland with her mother but learning to fly wouldn’t be in the cards for her until much later. Her father passed his love of mathematics on to Catherine after which she earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Santa Clara University.

During graduate studies toward her Ph.D. in mathematics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Catherine approached the local flight school for lessons; alas, her teaching assistant stipend sufficed to cover her living expenses and not much more. Still, she took her math homework to the airport just to watch the airplanes come and go.

While Catherine planned to settle back in California, a small liberal arts college with an airport on campus caught her eye. She accepted a position as Professor of Mathematics at Sewanee:  The University of the South but busied herself for the next several years establishing her career as a professional mathematician. In May of 1999, she earned tenure at the university, gave birth to her first son, and immediately ran to the airport and signed up for flying lessons at the Sewanee Franklin County Airport (KUOS).

During her training toward a private pilot certificate, Catherine met aviation author and aerobatic instructor William K Kershner who took an interest in her mathematics background. She learned about the science of flight by assisting him with some of the mathematics in his aviation manuals.  Catherine fell head over heels for aerobatics which she learned from Kershner. He introduced her to the University of Tennessee Space Institute where Catherine assisted with research projects, served as a test pilot and spin demonstration pilot, and studied graduate courses in aerodynamics and aviation systems.

After earning her flight instructor certificate, Catherine joined Kershner as an aerobatic instructor at his Ace Aerobatic School and continues the tradition of sharing safety with pilots in Sewanee since his passing in 2007. She also directs the Sewanee Flying Tigers, a flight school owned by Sewanee: The University of the South.

Catherine speaks around the country and online for the Federal Aviation Administration, AOPA, American Bonanza Society, National Association of Flight Instructors, and many other pilot organizations.  She serves as a regular guest on Aviation News Talk with Max Trescott as well as an expert for Pilot Workshops’ “IFR Scenarios,” “VFR Scenarios” and other educational products.

With many other goals yet ahead, Catherine continues her education in aviation as well as her mission of promoting safety.  In her spare time, she loves traveling the country with her sons Jack and Pete in their acrobatic Beechcraft Bonanza.

Ron Timmermans2022 Ron Timmermans

Ron Timmermans, fulfilled a 40-year professional career as an architect and project manager before devoting himself to aviation on a full-time basis. He has been an independent flight instructor since 1998. These days, he owns and manages AileRon T, LLC, and he flies a Beechcraft Bonanza co-owned with his wife Barbara – who originally inspired him to become a Flight Instructor.

Ron has logged more than 4,000 hours of dual instruction given, nearly 1,300 of those hours in the past five years. He instructs at locations throughout Florida, where he also serves as a mentor and advocate for emerging and young pilots and CFIs. Before relocating to Florida, Ron lived in North Texas and provided flight training in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area.

Ron is an ATP-AMEL, Commercial-ASEL, CFI-IA, MEI-IA, AGI-Instrument, and Remote Pilot. He is a NAFI Master CFI and Master Ground Instructor, a Gold Seal Instructor, and an American Bonanza Society (ABS) Master Aviator. Ron is particularly well-known in the Beech community due to his active involvement in the Beechcraft Pilot Proficiency Program (BPPP) and Bonanza/Baron Pilot Training (BPT) program.

Ron began providing training to Beechcraft pilots in 1998. In addition to providing instruction for Bonanza and Baron pilots, he later developed the BPT training curricula approved for WINGS credit by the FAA and has also been active in the Companion Training Course for those pilots’ significant others. Since then, Ron has been active in the BPPP program of the American Bonanza Society (ABS.), and he has authored more than 50 articles published in the ABS Magazine. He is a frequent consultant to owners and buyers of Beechcraft airplanes and conducts frequent Beechcraft transition training.

Ron has served as a FAASTeam Lead Representative for the Orlando FSDO and the North Texas FSDO. He has presented at more than 30 WINGS safety seminars and at aviation events throughout Florida and during EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh WI. He has also been a frequent presenter at AOPA’s Rusty Pilots Seminars, Safety Seminars, and Flight Instructor Refresher Courses. He is a founding director of the WINGS Industry Network, and he volunteered on the FAA’s WINGS Usability Working Group in 2020-2021.

Ron’s outreach activities include presenting NAFI MentorLIVE webinars for flight instructors and hosting broadcasts for Florida Aviation Network live-streaming events to international audiences. He is a regular presenter at ABS national conventions, EAA AirVenture, Sun ‘n Fun, and numerous other aviation events. Ron is a contributing member of AOPA, EAA, NAFI, SAFE, ABS, BPT, BPPP, and Quiet Birdmen. In 2021 he was named the National Certificated Flight Instructor of the Year.


What is the Flight Instructor Hall of Fame (HOF)? Its purpose is to recognize those individuals who have made significant contributions to aviation education and flight instruction while reflecting credit upon themselves and their profession. It highlights the important role flight instructors play as a foundation for the safety of the entire national air transportation system. Each year (with limited exceptions), one or more inductees are selected and honored.

View complete historical list of inductees

NAFI sponsors and administers the HOF: NAFI recruits applicant inductees each year, organizes the independent judging panel, administers the results of the judging selection, covers the costs of administering the award, and provides the venue for the induction ceremony each year the award takes place.

Selection Process:

HOF nomination packets will be accepted in NAFI's executive office at any time. Upon receipt, each packet is checked for required components, credentials are verified and references will be contacted. The selection committee will review all eligible packets and a decision will be made. The inductee will be named and publicly announced and a formal award presentation will take place. All eligible candidates not selected will remain in a pool for consideration the following year. NAFI DOES NOT TAKE PART IN JUDGING, ONLY OVERSEES THE PROCESS.

Inductee Eligibility:

  • Flight Instructor Hall of Fame nominees must have worked in the field of aviation education under 14 CFR parts 61, 121, 141, or 142 for a minimum of twenty (20) years prior to nomination and have been considered to have provided active flight instruction for at least 10 years (i.e. flight instruction in ANY category of aircraft or FAA approved training device/simulator)

  • Nominees must have held a valid FAA flight instructor certificate during that time.

  • Nominees may have worked as flight instructors, pilot examiners, technical support developers, instructional innovators, academicians, publications, and/or textbook authors.

  • Nominees must be of good moral character [i.e., FAR 61.153(c)] and must be respected within the aviation industry for their integrity, professionalism, and diligence.

  • Prior suspension or revocation of any airman certificate or assessment of a civil penalty for pilot or flight violations may disqualify the nominee.

  • Accident history will be considered and may be disqualifying.

  • Special provisions and accommodations will be made for posthumous nominations and awards.

Selection Criteria:

Candidates will be judged on their contributions to aviation and their sustained accomplishments in aviation education. For example:

  • Enhancement of aviation safety
  • Development of effective / innovative teaching techniques
  • Advancement of professional standards
  • Development of significant technical support
  • Achievement of professional excellence
  • Creation of innovative instructional materials
  • Partnership on projects with the FAA and/or industry
  • Being a role model for and a mentor to other aviation educators.

Selection Process and Inductee Notification:

  • Applications will be accepted between January 1st and April 30th for in-year consideration. Submissions can be made via email to [email protected] Attn: John Niehaus, Chief Administrator
  • Nomination submissions will receive confirmation of receipt by NAFI.
  • Beginning May 1st, NAFI will review each application for completeness and eligibility. Applications will then be sent to the judging panel to be rated confidentially.
  • The NAFI HOF Administrator will compile the results and identify inductees by June 1st.
  • By June 10th, the inductee(s) will be personally notified by NAFI’s Chairman and HOF Administrator.

Hall of Fame Presentation:

  • Inductees will be expected to provide biographical information and appropriate multimedia for the presentation.

  • NAFI may help cover the cost of travel accommodations to the presentation venue.

  • NAFI will present each inductee with a recognition trophy and the Hall of Fame traveling trophy to remain in their possession for the duration of the year, or a fraction of the year if there is more than one inductee.

  • HOF Induction will be made in a prominent public presentation hosted by NAFI.

View the complete historical list of inductees

Someone you want to nominate? Click here for the Hall of Fame nomination form
Please send any questions regarding the HOF nomination process to [email protected].

Meet the Selection Committee:

Greg Brown is a retired US Marine Corps aviator who flew Sikorsky CH-53D and CH-53E helicopters and was an instructor pilot for both. Greg is the director of Education and Training Services at Helicopter Association International, where he creates continuing education resources for members and other aviation professionals. A pilot for over 35 years, Greg holds FAA commercial SEL and rotorcraft helicopter certificates, as well as a CFII rotorcraft helicopter rating and a remote pilot certificate. He is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma (Boomer Sooner) and has a master’s degree from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

 Col. Juile Tizard U.S. Air Force (retired), has been a professional pilot for over 40 years. She was one of the earliest women to graduate from Air Force pilot training and she served in several leadership positions in her 25 years of active duty and Air Force Reserve service. She was an Instructor Pilot flying the T-37 primary jet trainer, Flight Commander, and Chief, Pilot Upgrade. She then flew the KC-10 air refueling tanker as an Aircraft Commander, Flight Commander, and Chief, KC-10 Flight Safety. In the Air Force Reserve, she was a Director, Contingency Operations at Headquarters, Air Mobility Command. She was the founding commander of the 96th Flying Training Squadron where she supervised 110 instructor pilots flying the T-37, T-38, and T-1 training aircraft. She recently retired from flying as a Captain at a major airline flying the Airbus 320. She has also flown the DC-10, Boeing 737, 757, 767 and was an instructor pilot and Line Check Airman on the Boeing 737 fleet for over nine years.

Thomas P. Turner holds an ATP certificate with flight instructor, CFII and MEI ratings, and a Master's Degree in Aviation Safety. A 2015 Flight Instructor Hall of Fame inductee, Tom was the 2010 National FAA Safety Team Representative of the Year and 2008 FAA Central Region CFI of the Year. He has been Lead Instructor for the Bonanza pilot training program at the Beechcraft factory; production test pilot for engine modifications; aviation insurance underwriter; corporate pilot and safety expert; Captain in the United States Air Force; and contract course developer for Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.  He now directs the education and the safety arm of a 10,000+ member American Bonanza Society and writes FLYING LESSONS Weekly at his www.mastery-flight-training.com.  With over 4800 hours logged, including more than 2900 as an instructor, Tom writes, lectures, and instructs extensively from his home at THE AIR CAPITAL--Wichita, Kansas.

Brittney Tough is a passionate advocate for general aviation and the future of flight. She currently works for CloudAhoy, a company that builds flight debriefing products for pilots, as head of marketing and training. Previously, she was employed by Kitty Hawk of Mountain View, California, as chief pilot/training and safety manager working daily to develop the world's first eVTOL (electrical vertical takeoff and lift) service. Before moving to Austin, Texas, in 2015 to join Redbird Flight Simulations, Brittney held several positions within AOPA spanning nearly eight years.

She graduated with honors from the University of Illinois with a degree in aviation human factors. Brittney is a CFI and holds commercial pilot and remote pilot certificates.

Barry Schiff holds 13 type ratings, 7 flight instructor ratings, and every category and class rating except airship. He is a retired TWA captain and his 28,000 hours have been accrued in 363 different types of aircraft. He has been an FAA-designated check airman on the Boeing 767 as well as in general aviation.

He has written more than 1,800 magazine articles—most notably in AOPA Pilot. These plus his 13 books have earned him 11 journalism awards. In addition to holding 5 world aviation speed records, Barry is the recipient of a Congressional Commendation, the Louis Bleriot Air Medal, Switzerland’s gold Proficiency Medal, and an honorary doctorate in aeronautical science. He also has been inducted into the Living Legends of Aviation.