Previously Accredited NAFI Master Instructors (O-U by Last Name)

Master Logos



Jose R. Vargas Otero, MCFI 06/2014-06/2016:

José Vargas was born and raised in a small town in Puerto Rico called Guaynabo.  It was there where his enthusiasm and interest in aviation developed as he observed military fighters flying over his house in Puerto Rico. His full devotion was attained when he experienced a small flight in the Grand Canyon as part of a scenic tour. In 2001, at the age of 19, Vargas received his acceptance to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University to pursue his airline pilot career.

At Embry-Riddle, Vargas completed all his flight training along with a Bachelors of Science in Aeronautical Science degree.  In 2012, he completed a Master of Science in Aeronautics degree from the same institution.

Since 2004, Vargas has been serving as an instructor pilot for his alma mater, Embry-Riddle.  He currently holds an ATP with ASEL and AMEL ratings, a Flight Instructor certificate with ASE, AME, & IA ratings, Ground Instructor certificate and over 4,500 hours of total aeronautical experience. In 2008, he became a Part 142 Training Center Evaluator (TCE) for Embry-Riddle; he continuously serves as a designee for the performance of practical tests for all courses.

In 2008 he became the Assistant Training Manager for the Flight Standards team at Embry-Riddle; a job he conducts with passion while hiring and standardizing instructor pilots.  Vargas also is one of three Assistant Chief Flight Instructors and an adjunct professor for the Aeronautical Science Department.

In addition to his work related duties, he is the President of IAMAW Local Lodge 501-Daytona Beach Pilots; a flight instructor union that remains in solidarity since 2001.

He is about to celebrate his 10th anniversary as a flight instructor with the accomplishment of his MCFI and is aspiring to reach new heights in his aeronautical career.   Vargas would like to give his gratitude to his family, especially to his grandfather, Leonides, his grandmother, Cecilia, and his Uncle Papo for their shared dreams of flight.

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Ed Pataky, MCFI 6/2017-7/2021:

Ed Pataky says he has been interested in aviation since he was a kid. He began flying in 1968, soloing on his 16th birthday in 1972 and earning his private certificate a year later. Pataky obtained his basic and advanced ground instructor certificates in 1975 and taught for several years in that capacity. He returned to actively flying in 2002, earning his seaplane rating and instrument ground Instructor certificate in 2003. His instrument rating and commercial and glider ratings soon followed. In 2006, he earned an aircraft dispatcher certificate, and served as a dispatcher at Express Jet airlines for over five years. Pataky has been an active flight instructor since 2006, and has over 1200 hours in that capacity. He hopes to continue to expand his role as an instructor and earn additional instructor ratings in the near future.

Pataky's education consists of two bachelor degrees from the University of Houston, in geography and economics, a master of science degree from Texas A&M, and master degree from the University of Houston in International Relations, as well as an MBA. He has worked a full spectrum of jobs, including 25 years as a broadcast engineer and on-air personality in the Houston market, along with several potions totaling over 10 years with Continental Airlines' operations, and as an aircraft dispatcher again. He teaches political science and economics at Lone Star College, where he has worked for over 30 years. Over the past 4 years, Pataky has formulated and taught ground school classes at several airports and flight schools.

He has owned a 1977 Cessna 150 “M” model since 2004.

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Joseph Perrotta, Associate MCFI 5/2015-5/2017:

Joe Perrotta of Peachtree Georgia was bitten by the aviation bug at an early age. Visits to John F. Kennedy International Airport with his father to watch the takeoffs and landings convinced him that he wanted to fly.

Perrotta attended Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, where he earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Aeronautical Science and his flight instructor certificate. He then added his CFII and MEI at the university.  After graduation, he returned to Embry-Riddle as an instructor to share his passion with incoming students.  He honed his piloting skills while flying for a Part 121 carrier.  Due to his commitment to safety and “by the book” approach to flying, he was selected to take part in a risk analysis assessment used to identify threats on the flight deck and design procedures to minimize those threats.  He now instructs under Part 61 at his local airport with a good friend he met while flying the line.  This is where you will find him whenever he isn’t caring for his future student, his son.

Perrotta’s commitment to quality teaching motivated him to obtain his Master’s Degree in Physics Education. He is most proud of the aviation club he formed at a local high school to introduce young adults to the many career paths in the aerospace field.  The club has toured corporate flight departments, aviation museums, and approach control facilities.  He also has a love for warbirds, so he has taken the club to see an AT-11, B-17, B-24, P-51, SBD Dauntless, and Corsair.  In addition, he has helped many of the club members earn their private pilot certificates.   He hopes to see the club grow in size, and to be able to continue to mentor young adults towards successful careers in aerospace.

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Jamie Poppe, MCFI 10/2014-10/2016:

Jamie Poppe was born in West Lafayette, Indiana while her parents attended Purdue University.  Her father graduated when she was 6 months old, and the family moved away from Indiana. When Poppe was 18 years old, she fell in love with flying and returned to West Lafayette to attend Purdue University, where she received a Bachelor of Science in Aviation Technology and a Master of Science in Education.

Poppe is now the chief flight instructor at the Purdue College of Technology.  She has been flying for 23 years and has accumulated over 8,800 hours and given approximately 7,500 hours of dual instruction. She has a gold seal CFI certificate with single, multiengine, and instrument airplane ratings.  She has been training and mentoring new flight instructors for over 18 years and specializes in initial CFI training. In addition to instructing, Poppe has flown corporate transportation in a Beechjet 400 and a Phenom 100. She holds a flight engineer certificate in a B-727.

Jamie is also judge for the International Aerobatic Club (IAC) and emphasizes spin and upset recovery training.  She has several hundred hours teaching basic aerobatics in an American Champion Decathlon and a DeHavilland Chipmunk. Poppe’s son Kevin is 12-years-old and often volunteers at IAC contests.  He hopes to major in aeronautical engineering at Purdue.

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Benjamin Porch, MCFI 04/2019-04/2021:


Porch says he has been fascinated by aviation and airplanes since he was young. Upon graduating high school, he attended LeTourneau University in Longview, Texas, completing a degree in aviation with a concentration in mission aviation. Porch has instructed in Texas and Minnesota across a range of types including single-engine, multi-engine, tailwheel, high performance, and technically advanced aircraft. He is a Cirrus Standardized Instructor Pilot, FAA Gold Seal Instructor, and has over 3,000 hours, with over 2,500 hours of flight instruction given.

In addition to a relaxed and joyful approach to being a flight instructor, Porch is a certificated airframe & powerplant aircraft mechanic who enjoys working on aircraft as well.

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Tim Reeve, MCFI 8/2016-8/2018:

Tim Reeve is a full-time helicopter air ambulance pilot and safety representative based in Orlando, Florida. He holds a FAA Rotorcraft Helicopter ATP certificate with CFI, CFII and Advanced Ground Instructor ratings, FAA Airplane Commercial/Instrument certificate and European Commercial Pilot License for Helicopter. Reeve retired after 22 years military service in 2005 from the Royal Air Force, where he served as an aircraft maintenance manager. He first began flying helicopters in England in 2000 and gained pilots licenses in Australia and New Zealand. Reeve came to the United States in 2005 and gained his FAA certifications to begin his teaching career at Air Orlando, a Part 61 and Part 141 flight school. He quickly developed a passion for flight instruction as he gained the teaching experience, which resulted in the Gold Seal CFI award in 2007. He became the Air Orlando's Chief Helicopter Pilot and Assistant Chief for the Part 141 program. Full-time jobs flying news and medevac from 2007-8 allowed Reeve to continue his passion for teaching people to safely fly helicopters. He completed an aerospace science master's program in 2014, majoring in safety and human factors at Embry-Riddle Aeronautics University, achieving a GPA of 4.0. Now as a part time CFI for local flight schools in Orlando and Kissimmee, Reeve is still teaching pilots and is a source of knowledge and guidance for those schools as they pursue Part 141 accreditation. He has been a CFI for 11 years, has 3400 hours of flight time of which half has been as a CFI in helicopters. He has recommended more than 50 students for check rides, ranging from private through CFI/CFII and has a first time pass rate of 95 percent. He lives in Orlando with his wife and young son.

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Gary Reeves, MCFI 1/2019-1/2021:

Reeves has over 7,500 hours in over 50 different aircraft including turbo-prop, and turbo-fan most of which is instruction given. In the last two years, he’s taught in over 30 states and is a popular public speaker on aviation safety. Reeves says his goal is to reduce General Aviation accidents through free FAA Safety Classes, video training, and articles. He is chief safety officer and owner of and chief flight instructor and owner of Master Flight Training. He was awarded 2016 FAA Instructor of the year for the Western Pacific Region, as well as 2014 Flight Instructor and FAA Safety Team Member of the Year Long Beach District. To learn more about Gary please visit


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Michael Reichert, MCFI 04/2012-04/2016:

This is Reichert’s third consecutive NAFI Master Instructor accreditation. Michael Reichert is an East Coast CFI specializing in Flight Instructor initial training, G1000 transition training, and Helicopter instruction.  Reichert’s flying “career” started at the age of 8 when his father took him for his first ride in a light twin airplane.  Unbeknownst to him, sliding back and forth across the back seat was just enough for his foot to inadvertently shut off fuel flow to one of the engines.  Crisis averted, it made a lasting impression.  It forever sparked the skyward fever, as well as provided early education for the necessity of good passenger briefings.  Reichert is currently a contract pilot as well as the Chief Flight Instructor for a Part 141 program in Pennsylvania.  He is a Gold Seal Flight Instructor holding CFI A&H, CFII A&H, MEI, and AGI.

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Christopher Rothe, MCFI 9/2019-9/2021:

Rothe started flying gliders with the Civil Air Patrol, earning his glider instructor rating at 16. A graduate of Metro State University in Denver, he joined the Air Force Reserve as a C-130 Aircraft Commander and instructor at Peterson AFB, transferring to the academy in 2014 as a soaring instructor. He currently flies Airbus A-319/320s for a major airline, and is a USAF Reserve evaluator and instructor for the Air Force Academy soaring-racing team.

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Sarah RovnerSarah Rovner, MCFI 9/2017-9/2021:

This is Rovner’s second NAFI Master Instructor accreditation.

Rovner is currently a FAA Safety Team Lead Representative and 757/767 pilot for a major U.S. airline. She holds an ATP, CFI, CFII, MEI and has flown over 5300 hours with 1500 hours of instruction given. Rovner has flown over 124 different types of airplanes in 15 different countries including oceanic crossings in small aircraft.

She is the owner and chief pilot of FullThrottle Aviation; which was launched in 2013 as a small flight school and grew to an international business with over 20 pilots moving airplanes around the world today. She continues to stay involved in general aviation through her leadership roles and volunteering for different aviation organizations. Although much of her flying is now in jetliners, she enjoys flying and instructing in her Super Cub, Patches, on her days off. As a regular fly-in attendee of Oshkosh, she says she enjoys the company and camaraderie that General Aviation brings.

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James "Steve" Rutland, MCFI 9/2000-1/2021:

This is Rutland’s 10th consecutive NAFI Master Instructor accreditation.

Rutland is a professional pilot and flight instructor with 45 years of aviation experience beginning in 1973 in Murray, Kentucky. He completed his first FAA flight instructor certificate in 1978 in Honolulu, Hawaii. He attended U.S. Army flight training in 1975 and is a Master Army Aviator. He is also a U.S. Coast Guard Aviator, having served as a search and rescue pilot for the Guard. Rutland has 37 years experience as a government civilian flight instructor for the U.S. Army Aviation School of Excellence, Fort Rucker, Alabama. He holds three Airline Transport Pilot ratings (ASEL, AMEL, Helicopter), five FAA flight instructor ratings (CFI -ASEL, AMEL, Helicopter, CFII - Airplane and Helicopter), two type ratings, and is a graduate of 10 different military instructor pilot courses. He has flown 20,600 accident-free flight hours in 11 different helicopters and 13 different airplanes. He has given 17,000 hours of dual instruction in flight with thousands more in flight simulators. While working part-time with Title 14 CFR 141 and 61 flight schools he has trained airplane single and multiengine land student pilots for the Private, Commercial, Instrument, Airline Transport Pilot, and Flight Instructor certificates. He is a Gold Seal flight instructor and FAASTeam representative for the Birmingham FSDO. He was selected for the FAA Flight Instructor of the Year for Alabama and NW Florida in 2001, 2002, and 2014.

As a civilian flight instructor at Fort Rucker, he has trained military officers from every branch of the U.S. armed forces and every rank from warrant officer candidate to colonel. At the Army Aviation School he has provided ground and flight training in a broad range of programs of flight instruction including; primary, instruments, combat skills, aero scout, night vision goggles, advanced aircraft qualification, and the UH60 Instructor Pilot Course. He has served as an UH60 Standardization Instructor Pilot/Instrument Flight Examiner to provide continuity and mentor newly assigned instructor pilots. He was selected as the Department of the Army Civilian of the Year by the Aviation Center Chapter of the Army Aviation Association of America, and revived the Superior Civilian Service Award from the Department of the Army.

Rutland has been employed by the Safety Research Corporation of America to edit the FAA Airplane Flying Handbook and has taught as an adjunct instructor for Embry Riddle Aeronautical University. He completed his master’s degree from Embry Riddle in aeronautical science in 1988. In 2014 he was selected for the Alumni Achievement Award from Embry Riddle for an individual who has demonstrated an exceptional commitment to the aviation and aerospace industry through their personal and professional success.

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Ted Sanders, MCFI 07/2008-04/2016:

This is Sanders' Third consecutive NAFI Master Instructor accreditation. Sanders’ friends say he wanted to fly before he was born. In first grade Sanders started building and flying U-Line controlled gas powered model airplanes. He was competing in combat and rat race competitions through 4th grade. Sanders joined the United States Marine Corps in 1969 and became a CH-53D Crew Chief flying in excess of 1200 hrs. Upon return to the states in 1972 Sanders took flying lessons at the base flying club earning his Private License on July 4, 1973. He returned home and used his GI benefits to earn his Instrument Rating and Commercial License. In January 2002, Sanders returned to flying and since then he has gone from an 800hr. pilot with those ratings to a Commercial Pilot with ASEL, ASES, AMEL and, Glider. He also is a CFI, CFII, MEI, CFI-G, Gold Seal Instructor, NAFI Master Instructor and FAAST team Representative. For three years Sanders flew freight for Northeast Aviation as a Captain and Training Airman. Sanders has logged in excess of 6000+ hrs.

In addition to joining the NAFI Board, Sanders chairs/participates on several NAFI Committees. Sanders enjoys his obligations as a member of the NAFI Board of Directors. 

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Brian Schultz, MCFI 6/2018-6/2020:

Schultz has been flying since 2000 and has been flight instructing since 2002. He said he has a strong passion for teaching and loves passing along his knowledge. Schultz holds an ATP certificate in both airplane single engine and multi-engine land, type ratings in the CE-500, CE-510S, CE-525/CE525S, and Lear Jet, a commercial single engine sea certificate, Gold Seal certified flight instructor rating, certified instrument instructor rating, multi-engine instructor rating, and advanced ground instructor rating. Schultz has flown corporate Part 91 in aircraft from a PA-32 to a CE525 all over world, Part 135 charter service in a CE-500 in North America and was an instructor at numerous flight schools, including Flight Safety where he instructed on the LR-jet.

Schultz currently is teaching students from private to ATP. He specializes in turbine transitions for owner pilots. He is also involved with his local airport advisory board, as check pilot for the 501 Squadron of Civil Air Patrol, the local airport AOPA ASN, is a FAAST Representative and Beechcraft Pilot Proficiency Program Instructor.

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Michael Schwahn, MCFI 12/2014-12/2016:

Schwahn is a born and raised Montana resident who was first introduced to aviation at the age of 16.  Aviation was always been a part of his life growing up, but the decision to make it into a career didn’t come until September 2006.  While studying mechanical engineering at Montana State University, Schwahn decided to pursue aviation as a full-time major.  His first flight lesson ensued through Summit Aviation and he soloed in October 2006.  He received his Private, Instrument and Commercial ratings at Summit Aviation and added Airplane Single Engine Sea in south Florida.  Schwahn’s drive for knowledge kept pushing him towards CFI, CFI-I and eventually through MEI, at which point he was hired by Summit Aviation in 2010.

With only 300 hours total time, Schwahn began instructing.  From the beginning of his CFI training until today, he has stood out from his peers with his ability to relate to any individual.  This ability to adapt to all learning styles is one of the many reasons he was chosen to be an Assistant Chief Instructor for Summit Aviation.

Schwahn is also a captain for Summit Aviation’s charter service and crews a Phenom 100 jet. His ratings include: ATP Multi-Engine, Commercial Single-Engine Land and Sea, CFI, CFI-I, MEI, EMB-500 type and Instrument Ground Instructor. Schwahn has also been recognized by AOPA two years in a row for the Flight Training Excellence Honor Roll.

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Michael "Todd" Shellnut, MCFI 11/2018-11/2020:

Shellnut has been working in the flight training industry for 18 years now, and although he has performed many duties in his field from corporate pilot to FAA Designated Pilot Examiner, he has always found his way back to his true passion of flight instruction. This is Todd's second nomination as a Master CFI, and he also has received other awards such as AOPA's Best Instructor for 2015 and Distinguished Flight Instructor for 2017 and 2018. Todd is a published author of aviation training texts, an active FAASTeam member for the Atlanta FSDO, and is currently working for ATP Flight School as the CFI Academy Standardization Manager where he is responsible for the multiple training locations across the country for CFI initial training.

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Gregory Smith, MCFI 04/2008-05/2018:

This is Smith’s Fifth consecutive NAFI Master Instructor accreditation. Smith began flying 17 years ago while working as a sales executive for the WD-40 company. After earning his CFI certificate in 2002 he began instructing part time. In 2004 he made the career jump to full-time instructor.

He currently flies a G-58 Baron and C441 Conquest II out of Waukegan, IL for Aldridge Electric. He instructs part-time at the Westosha Flying Club in Wilmot, WI where he is also on the Board of Directors and serves as the club treasurer.

He completed his ATP in March of this year, is a FAASTeam representative and a FAA Gold Seal Instructor holding CFII, MEI, and AGI privileges. He has given over 6,000 hours of dual instruction.

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Jack Stevens, MCFI 9/2006-9/2020:

This is Stevens’ second consecutive NAFI Master Instructor accreditation.

Initially mentored by Alby Cornell, CFI & FBO owner at Warrington Airport in Bucks County, Pennsylvania (8N9) Stevens obtained his private pilot certificate in a PA 22-108 in 1969. Sadly, the airport has long since succumbed to stone quarry and homes, he said. His initial CFI was obtained under the tutelage of CFI David Orr in 1981, flying out of Mt. Sterling Airport (KIOB) in Montgomery County, Kentucky.

Stevens serves as chief CFI for Total Flight Solutions at its Pinehurst, North Carolina location. TFS is in final phase of accomplishing Part 141 Certification and is providing flight training for the Sandhills Community College Part 141 Aviation Degree Program.

“I'm passionate about mentoring others in aviation and keep in close contact with past clients. It is so rewarding to receive a call, an e-mail or text from a past student telling me about a new job, obtaining an additional rating or successfully and safely dealing with an untoward situation. As instructor pilots we know that there are four stages of learning: Rote, Understanding, Application and Correlation. I contend that the fifth and highest level is Teaching.”

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Shane Terpstra, MCFI 10/2015-1/2020:

This is Terpstra’s second NAFI Master Accreditation. Terpstra started flying at the age of 16 in Orange County, Calif. and says he has had the flying bug ever since. After nearly 20 years as owner of an IT company, Terpstra decided to pursue aviation full time, earning his instructor rating and changing careers to become an airline pilot. When not flying for the airlines, he is a full-time instructor specializing in accelerated courses. Terpstra is a passionate aviation enthusiast, FAA FAASTeam Member, safety officer and board member of Plus One Flyers, the largest flight club in the United States, as well as an aircraft owner.

Terpstra has been an active member of the Civil Air Patrol in California for almost 30 years, holds numerous ratings in the organization and currently serves as Director of Emergency Services for California. Terpstra has helped locate dozens of missing aircraft over the years and uses these experiences when teaching other pilots.

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Timothy Timmons, MCFI 10/2016-10/2018, AMCFI 2/2015-2/2017:

This is Timmons’ second NAFI Master Accreditation. Timmons started flying in 2005 and earned his CFI certificate in 2012. After a 21-year career in the U.S. Army he retired from the military in 2013 and began to pursue his love for aviation and flight instruction full-time. He currently serves as the Assistant Chief Flight Instructor for Cochise College’s Aviation Department (Part 141) in Douglas, Arizona. In 2015 he received honor roll instructor recognition as part of AOPA’s Flight Training Excellence Awards.

Timmons earned his ATP AMEL earlier this year and also holds commercial privileges for single engine and private privileges for seaplane and glider. He is an FAA Gold Seal Instructor with CFII, MEI, AGI and IGI certificates. His education includes a masters degree in Aerospace Operations from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

Timmons says he believes strongly in serving his community through aviation. He serves as AOPA's Airport Support Network representative for Tombstone Airport (P29), in Arizona and as a volunteer pilot for Flights for Life, LightHawk, and EAA’s Young Eagles program. He also recently became a FAASTeam representative for the Scottsdale FSDO. He has accumulated more than 2,300 pilot-in-command hours with over 1,100 hours of dual instruction given. He lives in Anthem, Arizona.

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