Previously Accredited NAFI Master Instructors (V-Z by Last Name)

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Orlando Villaverde MCFIOrlando Villaverde, MCFI 4/2018-4/2020:

Villaverde background in a academia includes a Doctoral Degree in Business Administration with a specialization in Finance and International Management from Nova Southeastern University. He also holds Masters degree in Aeronautical Science and Business Administration in Aviation from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University. His experience in aviation included working previously as a pilot and a supervisor for the City of Miami Police Department’s Aviation Detail. He possesses FAA dual flight instructor certificates in airplanes and helicopters with thousands of hours of teaching experience.

He has provided initial and advance training to students seeking a Private, Commercial, Instrument and Flight Instructor certificates and ratings. During his tenure with Miami Dade College's School of Aviation, he was nominated as a General Aviation Flight Instructor of the year, Southern Region for 2005 and 2014 by the Federal Aviation Administration and currently serves as a member of the FAASTeam /Aviation Safety Program. Villaverde says he has great faith in education, which is displayed in the classroom with his students who he believes are the greatest asset.

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Luke Watters, MCFI 4/2015-4/2017:

Born and raised in Whitefish, MT, Watters began flight training at age 12 in the mountains of the Flathead Valley, soloed on his 16th birthday and had his pilot's certificate by 17. The first pages in his logbook include rolls, loops, and hammerheads in a glider as well as backcountry flights in a Cub. From those flights on he was hooked on aerobatics and dirt strips. Watters received his Bachelors in Aeronautical Science at LeTourneau University in Longview, TX, where he also completed his CSEL/CMEL, CFI, CFII, and MEI Certificates. Luke, a Gold Seal flight instructor, has logged 3300 hours of flight time, over 2700 hours of which are dual given. His specialties include aerobatic flight training in an Extra 300, mountain/canyon training, and upset recovery instruction.

Watters is currently the chief flight instructor and a backcountry charter pilot for a small FBO in Utah. He previously worked as a Part 141 assistant chief flight instructor and director of flight operations in Texas, before deploying to Afghanistan on a one-year contract to operate the RQ-7 Shadow 200 UAS in 2011. Watters enjoys skiing, riding motorcycles, playing guitar, shooting guns, and spending time with his wife, Sarah Beth.

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Richard Weber, MCFI 05/2014-05/2016:

Richard Weber is the Chief Pilot/FW for the Jacksonville (FL) Sheriff’s Aviation Unit, where he has been assigned since 1998. Weber began his flying career in 1987 and earned his first flight instructor rating in 1995. Weber has spent his career flying law enforcement missions in helicopters as well as airplane fugitive extraditions across the United States. He has over 7,600 flight hours and holds an Airline Transport Pilot certificate for SEL, MEL and Rotorcraft/Helicopter and is a FAA-Certified Gold Seal Flight Instructor for Single and Multi-Engine Airplane, Rotorcraft/Helicopter, Instrument Airplane and Helicopter. Weber is a graduate of the USAF’s Advanced Instrument School and NVG Instructor School. He is Bell Helicopter factory trained in the Bell 206 and 407 and also receives currency training at the Simcom Training Center for the Piper Aerostar and Beechcraft King Air 200.

Weber travels around the U.S. and Canada presenting aviation-related training topics to include Spatial Disorientation and Inadvertent IMC. He has provided this training to law enforcement pilot’s at ALEA seminars and conferences, EMS helicopter pilots at various bases, commercial operators at Heli-Expo and other FAAST events as a FAAST team representative. Weber also provides Single, Multi-Engine Airplane and Helicopter training through his consulting business, Webair Aviation Training, LLC.

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Richard Whittemore, MCFI 07/2021-07/2023:

This is Whittemore’s second NAFI Master Instructor accreditation.

Whittemore is from Chattanooga. He says he fell in love with aviation at the age of 14. He worked two jobs in landscaping and as a construction hand in order to pay for flight training as a 16 year old student. At the same time, he also began studying aviation at the local community college. Later that year he soloed and, just a year after beginning flight training, gained his Private Pilot certificate at the age of 17.  Not long after completing it, he attended language school in Argentina. It was there that he studied the Amazon jungle in South America. After becoming fluent in Spanish, Whittemore returned to Chattanooga and completed a degree in aviation management and began managing the small airport/FBO and flight school where he learned to fly. While there, Whittemore completed advanced flight training and began instructing for the school. Shortly thereafter, Richard began flying a Beechcraft Baron corporately.

In 2012, Whittemore earned his helicopter rating and later that year moved his family to Brazil, where his youngest daughter was born. There he flew a float plane on the Amazon River for a short time. After the government shut down the aviation program, Whittemore and his family adopted a young child and also started an orphanage. In search of a way to remain involved in aviation, he moved his family across the border to Colombia. After two years of persistently trying to get an air ambulance established, it became clear that the local political atmosphere would keep that from happening. So, after starting a local, fair labor company in Colombia he moved his family to Laredo, Texas.

There Whittemore started an aviation service company while working for a Part 91 operator. He also co-founded and acted as the chief instructor for the only dual rated flight school on the Texas/Mexico border. While he was acting as chief instructor the school operated with a 100 percent pass rate and safety record. During the beginning of 2020 Whittemore and his family moved back closer to his roots in Birmingham, Alabama where he remains involved with the non-profit organization by serving on the board and managing the various entities his family started in the Amazon. His full-time job is working as an Emergency Medical Helicopter pilot in the Southeast and on his off days he continues to instruct and hold safety seminars. He has completed the DPE training courses and looks forward to one day serving as a DPE.

Whittemore holds an Airline Transport Pilot certificate with Airplane Single and Multi-Engine Land and Rotorcraft-Helicopter as well as Commercial privileges for Airplane Single Engine Sea. He also holds a Gold Seal Flight Instructor Certificate for Airplane Single and Multi-Engine, Rotorcraft-Helicopter and Instrument – Airplane/Helicopter. He is also an Instrument Ground Instructor and Commercial Drone Operator. He currently holds SIC type ratings for the Beechcraft PremierJet and the Cessna Citation XLS+. He is also the current FAA Safety Team (FAAST) Representative with the Birmingham FSDO.

Whittemore‘s goal is to continue his personal aviation education and pass that on to aspiring and current pilots in order to promote a safer environment in the industry.

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James Whittles, MCFI 5/2002-8/2016:

This is Whittles' Third NAFI Master Instructor accreditation.Whittles was raised during his formative years in Kettering, Ohio just a short distance from the Wright’s Cycle Company.  His inspiration for flying was inherited from his father, who flew as an instructor in the Army Air Corps.  Despite a keen interest, Whittles didn’t start flying until his mid thirty’s, earning Private to CFI in only two years. He then successfully developed a flight school in Holland, Michigan after the local FBO left in 1991. His biggest thrill during that time, was helping a young paraplegic man who had been injured in a car accident learn to fly and successfully earn his Private Pilot Certificate.

Whittles joined the College of Aviation at Western Michigan University in 2001 as a Lead Instructor. In this position his duties include giving progress and stage check to students, as well as standardizing new hire instructor staff at all levels. He also had the privilege of teaching upset/unusual attitude/spin training in the two University Extra 300s.  In addition to his flight responsibilities, Whittles teaches the instrument ground school, and has done so for over thirteen years, including a transition to technically advanced aircraft. This transition brought Cirrus SR-20’s to the University, and allowed for him to achieve his Cirrus Standardization (CSIP) in 2007. With knowledge in teaching flight using advanced avionics, Whittles leads a contract for the University working with FAA inspectors for Technically Advanced Aircraft (TAA) training. He also routinely works with FAA Designated Examiners that want to provide check rides in the University fleet.

Whittles speaks annually at the Great Lakes Aviation Conference on topics related to flying with technology, dependence on automation, human factors, and using new skills with tablet technology. He also spoke and facilitated a seminar for the State of Michigan Department of Transportation on iPad use in the cockpit and recently spoke at the WATs (World Aviation Training Conference) Conference on Engaging the Next Generation of Aviation Professionals with Tablet Technology.

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Helen Woods, MCFI 11/2009-11/2017:

This is Wood’s fourth consecutive NAFI Master Instructor accreditation. Helen Woods has been a passionate general aviation pilot since 1998. A biologist by training, she spent several years serving as a search and rescue pilot and managing a search and rescue training program prior to accepting a job as a wildlife survey pilot. She earned recognition from the National Association of Flight Instructors as a Master Flight Instructor from 2009 through 2016 and in 2015 was recognized by the FAA as the Baltimore District and Eastern Region Flight Instructor of the Year.   Today, as a flight instructor, owner, and manager of Chesapeake Sport Pilot, she is dedicated to sharing her love of aviation with others through affordable, quality flight training.

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Dale Wilson, MCFI 10/1999-10/2013, MGI 10/2013-12/2017:

This is Wilson's second NAFI Master Ground Instructor accreditation; he is a seven-time consecutive NAFI Master Flight Instructor. Wilson teaches courses in flight crew physiology and psychology, threat and error management, aviation safety management, and aviation weather as a professor in the Aviation Department at Central Washington University in Ellensburg, Washington. For the past nine years he has also taught private pilot ground school in the department’s Part 141 flight training program. A pilot for more than 35 years, he has logged several thousand hours in single- and multi-engine airplanes in the United States and Canada. He holds, or has held, pilot certifications including: ATP, CFI, AGI and IGI from the Federal Aviation Administration and ATPL and Class I Flight Instructor from Transport Canada.

Wilson has devoted his professional life to studying why pilots make the mistakes they do. In his efforts to better understand human performance factors such as perception, attention, memory and decision- making, he completed a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Trinity Western University in British Columbia (1994) and a Master’s degree in Aviation Safety at the University of Central Missouri (1996).

He has written extensively in scholarly journals and professional magazines, including NAFI Mentor on such human factors issues as the visual limitations of detecting other aircraft and flying at night, cognitive biases in pilot decision-making, and VFR flight into instrument meteorological conditions (IMC). Managing Risk: Best Practices for Pilots, a recent book co-authored by Wilson and published by Aviation Supplies and Academics, describes many of the significant threats to safe flight operations, offers insights into how and why pilots make errors that exacerbate them, and provides best-practice countermeasures needed to successfully manage them.

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Brett Zukowski NAFI MCFIBrett Zukowski, MCFI 07/2021-07/2023:

Zukowski has been fascinated with aviation since childhood and said he started flight training in high school but soon exhausted his financial resources. In his college years he earned the FAA Airframe & Powerplant (A&P) certificate and used aircraft maintenance revenue for further flight training.

By 1989 he had earned his CFI-A, CFI-I, and MEI and then taught at American Flyers of Santa Monica, California and also earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Aviation Administration from California State University, Los Angeles. In the following years Brett earned his Airline Transport Pilot Certificate (ATP-AMEL) and worked for two regional airlines, accumulating over 2500 hours of experience as a regional airline pilot based at Washington Dulles and Chicago’s O’Hare airports flying the ATR-42 and ATR-72, and BAE Jetstream 3200.

Eventually, Zukowski decided to leave the traveling lifestyle of the regional airline environment and took various aircraft maintenance and teaching opportunities as well as completing graduate school with a master’s degree in literature. Realizing that his love of education, teaching, and aviation were a recurring theme in his life, Zukowski accepted a faculty position in the aviation department of Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina, where he taught both aircraft maintenance and flight for a decade. During the summer breaks from university, Zukowski went to Alaska to fly a Piper Chieftain for benevolent missions and led student mission teams to Alaska for benevolent projects.

When the university terminated the aviation program in 2010 Zukowski and a business partner bought its aviation curriculum and started USAeroFlight Pilot School, which now is serving 75 pilot students under Part 61 and Part 141 of the federal regulations. Zukowski currently serves as Co-owner and Chief Instructor of USAeroFlight Pilot School and serves the community as an FAA Designated Pilot Examiner (DPE), FAASTeam Representative and WINGSPro advisor. Over the last 40 years Zukowski has accumulated over 6000 hours of flight time, over 3000 hours of dual instruction given, and a decade of aircraft maintenance experience as A&P with Inspection Authorization (IA).

Zukowski holds CFI-AIM and ATP AMEL certifications, and has wide teaching experience including church, high school classes and collegiate aviation courses. Zukowski said “teaching is his best resource for investing in the lives of others and takes joy in helping others develop the requisite skills needed for safe flying whether for career or personal use.” He said he believes that “he who teaches learns the most” and looks forward to continued teaching as CFI, testing as DPE, and continued personal learning and development.  

Click to Download Brett's Press Release!