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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James Archer MCFIJames Archer, MCFI 9/2020-9/2022:

Archer is a certificated Airline Transport Pilot for both multi-engine and single-engine land aircraft. With over 14 years as an instructor, he holds training certificates in instrument, single and multi-engine aircraft as well as an 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 includes cabin class aircraft, the Beechcraft King Air 90 and 200 models. He has also received ground and flight training for Boeing 737.

In August 2020, Archer was approved as a FAASTeam Representative and assigned as a remedial CFI by the FAA ATL FAASTeam Program Manager. Other activities include his assistance with the Transportation Education Foundation of Georgia with advanced flight and ground training curriculum development as well as with Georgia Skills USA 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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Ury BraunUry Braun, Associate MCFI 08/2020-08/2022:

Braun was 12 years old when he took his first introduction flight and he says he knew then aviation was going to be his chosen career path. Braun holds an ATP with B767/757, DC-9, HS-125, CL-600, EMB-120 and EMB145 type ratings. He received his initial CFI rating at Double Eagle Aviation in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1991. Since that time, he has added a CFII and MEI, Ground Instructor: Advanced/Instrument and taught at Part 61 and 141 flight schools in the southwest and southeast. He eventually transitioned to the airline world and is a second- generation pilot for a major U.S. airline. Braun grew up in the general aviation world and has owned a Bonanza and Baron and looks forward to owning a tail dragger in the future. He currently instructs in the standards department at his airline, providing mountainous airport and Atlantic, South American theater check outs. Braun graduated with a Master’s Degree in Aeronautical Science, specializing in aviation safety and also provides free-lance flight instruction with an emphasis on what he calls his passion, instrument instructing.

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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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Anthony Cirincione, MCFI 2/2019-11/2022

Cirincione has over 39 years, and 11,000 hours of flight experience, flying almost every aircraft. His holds a Gold Seal CFI with airplane, helicopter, gyrocopter, glider, weight shift control, and powered parachute, FE – Turbojet, and A&P with Inspection Authorization. He began his aviation career as a crew chief in the U.S. Air Force. From there he became a F-111 Instructor and flight examiner, and later an instructor at the U.S.A.F. Fighter Weapons School flying the F-4 Phantom. He is type-rated in Cessna, Learjet, Dassault, and Boeing aircraft. Cirincione has a master's degree in aeronautical science and has published Advanced Flight Instruction – A teaching Guide for Aviators. Although he teaches in several light sport aircraft, he spends most of his time refining pilot’s skills for safe single pilot operation of Cessna Citation aircraft. For a closer look at his Citation work, go to


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John CooperJohn Cooper, MGI 04/2020-04/2022:

In 1956, Cooper was only 5 years old when his family flew from Albuquerque, NM to upstate New York on a DC-6 type airliner. The Captain asked if he wanted to come up to the cockpit. He put me on his lap as the turboprop cruised above the clouds. That was it... he was going to be a pilot.

It took Cooper a while to come back to that dream, but he bought a Cessna 150 in 1976 and earned his private license in Paris, TX. Cooper went on to Flight Safety in Vero Beach, FL to finish up Instrument, Commercial, and CFI. After that, he taught Private, Commercial, and, Instrument pilots while flying air freight in a Cherokee Six. With a MEI, he earned a job running the multi engine rating course for a company in Miami, FL in 1979 - 1980.

He was then able to serve in a PA 31 Navajo as Captain for Devoe Airlines, a Twin Otter as First Officer for Rocky Mountain Airways, and then a Metroliner for Pioneer Airlines out of Denver, CO. Unfortunately, Continental chose a competitor for their Continental Express, and the company went out of business.

Flash forward to 2018 when a friend approached him with a flying opportunity if he could get his medical and get current. The medical never came through, but Cooper was resolved to get back into aviation as a Ground Instructor. For the last year he has been the Ground Instructor for ATP CFI Academy in Arlington, TX.

Cooper has always had a great sense of fulfillment when seeing students come back from a check ride with a smile from ear to ear. Cooper says “watching them make it is what drives me to be the best Ground Instructor I can be.”

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Mark Cook, MCFI 11/2019-11/2021:

Cook says he knew he wanted to be a pilot since high school and his first airplane ride in Boeing 707. After obtaining his private pilot certificate becoming an airport rat, Larry Diffley, the owner of Bemidji Aviation Services, Inc. encouraged Cook to obtaining his commercial rating and switch careers and go to work for him.

Cook started his professional pilot career as night “freight dog” flying Beech Queen Airs. He sought his initial CFI because Cook he the ability to provide flight instruction to his friends. Cook is currently working as contract pilot for three construction companies and as an independent flight instructor. He has remained an active CFI who has a special fondness for tail wheel, skis and float plane instruction.

While working at Bemidji Aviation Cook developed a Part 61 flight training program that continues successfully today. As a Minneapolis FSDO FAA Safety Team Representative, Cook has hosted and presented aviation safety seminars throughout northern Minnesota, on topics ranging from winter operations to airplane performance. The highlight of his instructional career was signing the endorsements for his wife Dawn's initial CFI ride (she passed).

He currently holds Commercial, Multi-Engine, Instrument as well as CFI-CFII-IGI and is commercial drone operator. Cook has flown over 7400 hours with 1800 hours of instruction given, and flown over 50 different types of airplanes. He enjoys flying his Champion 7GCB on his free days.

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Aaron Dabney, MCFI 8/2013-12/2021:

This is Dabney’s fourth NAFI Master Accreditation. Dabney owns and operates Waco Flight Training in Waco, Texas. A full-time flight instructor since 2009, he took the plunge and opened his own company in 2013 with plans to specialize in tailwheel transition training.

Along the way, he’s grown and adapted his company to meet the growing demand for flight training and now mentors a team of full and part-time instructors who provide training for all single-engine certificates and ratings. He said he strongly believes in integrating time-tested stick-and-rudder teaching with contemporary thinking about risk mitigation and decision making to produce pilots who are lifelong students of aviation.

Dabney holds a Master of Science degree in Educational Administration from Baylor University, where he has served since 2010 as an adjunct lecturer in the Aviation Science department. Dabney and his wife Alisa love to travel and are passionate about their small businesses.

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Dr. Peter Dittmer, MCFI 10/1998-10/2002, 05/2014-11/2021:

This is Dittmer’s fifth NAFI Master CFI Accreditation. Dittmer works at Central Washington University as the “Chair” of a very busy CFR 141 flight department. He says he has always enjoyed flight training, and particularly enjoys working with students in their journey to become professional aviators. Dittmer is developing research on assessment modeling for private pilot students in CFR 141 programs. A CFI for over 30 years, he has a CFI, CFII, MEI, “Gold Seal” ATP, and Ed.D.

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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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William E. Dubois, MGI 01/2020-01/2022:

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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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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Lubomir MCFILubomir Gueorguiev, MCFI 8/2016-8/2022:

This is Gueorguiev Third consecutive NAFI Master Instructor accreditation. Born in Russia, Gueorguiev started flying when he was 16 years old after meeting the first astronaut in space, Yuri Gagarin. His passion followed him to the United States in 1991 when he immigrated and began instructing professionally. Gueorguiev is a Chief Flight Instructor at Yoanna Flight School (d.b.a. Beaver Aviation) at Page Field Airport Fort Myers Florida. He is an ATP pilot, a Gold Seal CFI, CFII, MEI and Seaplane Flight Instructor.

Educated with a doctoral degree in nuclear physics, he said his passion has always been aviation. With more than 5,500 hours total time, and over 4,500 of them dual given Gueorguiev said he believes that flight safety starts with education.

For many years Gueorguiev has demonstrated an ongoing commitment to excellence, professional growth, and service to the aviation community. He is a member of AOPA, is an EAA Young Eagle pilot, a major in the Civil Air Patrol, a FAAST Team Representative for the Tampa FSDO, and member of the United States Parachute Association. He is an ATP pilot, a Gold Seal CFI, CFII, and MEI. He said his flight training methodology emphasis on building proper skills and flight control, procedural compliance and safety culture.

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Goetz MCFISteven Goetz, MCFI 8/2011-10/2021:

This is Goetz’s fifth 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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