Meet the Aerowood Staff

Brandon Atkinson
Owner, CEO

Brandon Atkinson is the CEO of Aerowood Aviation. He is an aviation enthusiast/pilot who loves every minute of the freedom he possesses when flying. It all started at the age of 8 when he went to a local fly-in. This was the first time he had ever come in contact with an aircraft–needless to say he was hooked! Since then, he dreamed about flying, but it wasn’t until 2011 that he would actually get to fly in a single engine plane for the first time. As he became a pilot the following year he also became an aircraft owner. After owning a few aircraft an opportunity presented itself to become the owner of a flight school. He accepted the opportunity, and it was the best decision that he has ever made. He gets to enjoy flying and running a business side by side. This is the best of both worlds for Brandon. Aerowood is a growing company that treats our customers as family, and we look forward to you being a part of ours.

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Dar Hanjiev, Jr
Customer Service Representative - Monroe

Dar is a private pilot who grew up around aviation all his life. His first flight was when he was only 2 months old; he has been in love with it ever since. He’s currently working on his Instrument Rating and is planning on making aviation his career. Outside of work, he enjoys writing music, playing volleyball, and traveling the country in the family plane. Dar will be happy to take care of your inquiries as he manages the Front Desk at our EQY location.

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Adam McClinton
General Manager,
Flight Instructor, CSIP

Adam’s love for aviation began at a young age when he worked in his family business in Louisville KY flying hot air balloons. After graduating from the University of South Carolina, he decided to make a career out of his passion for flying by transitioning to airplanes. He moved back home to Louisville and earned his certificates and ratings from Private Pilot through CFII and MEI. In 2017 he relocated to the Charlotte area to work full time with us at Aerowood. Adam serves as General Manager for operations at Aerowood. He is a Cirrus Standardized Instructor Pilot (CSIP) and heads up Aerowood’s Cirrus Training Center. He also is in charge of Aircraft Management for aircraft that Aerowood manages for our customers.

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Bill Irvin
Director of Operations

Bill is our Director of Operations at Aerowood Aviation, leading our team of flight instructors and ensuring the instruction provided by Aerowood remains top notch for our customers. He is an Air Force brat who grew up in Asia, Europe, and the U.S.; but if pressed, will call San Antonio, TX home. Growing up in the Air Force world, Bill cannot remember a time when he was not around the sound of airplanes flying overhead.

Upon graduation from Baylor University, Bill began his 20-year Air Force career. While stationed in Clovis, NM, he earned his Private Pilot certificate before heading off to Undergraduate Pilot Training in Del Rio, TX. This began his adventure of flying, instructing, and evaluating in the F-16 Fighting Falcon and T-38 Talon for the remainder of his time in the Air Force.

Following his Air Force retirement in 2018, Bill relocated to the Charlotte area. Locally he has flown for both American Airlines and a private company flight department. Deciding to leave life on the road behind, we are grateful that he has taken this leadership position at Aerowood.

Bill holds all certificates through CFI/CFII/MEI and Airline Transportation Pilot (ATP). He has more than 4300 hours in military and civilian aircraft and has type ratings in both the Airbus A320 and Gulfstream GVII. Bill is excited to be a part of the amazing work happening day in and day out at Aerowood Aviation. If there is anything he can do to make your experience better, do not hesitate to reach out.

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Jong Lee
Flight Instructor

Jong relocated to Charlotte in 2016 following careers in law enforcement, as a military intelligence officer, and as an engineering defense contractor (supporting Naval Aviation).  As a volunteer pilot (CFI, Check Pilot Examiner) in Civil Air Patrol (CAP), he has logged over 900 hours in the G1000 Glass Cockpit platform.

For the first time in July 2019, the USAF started a program of using CAP CFIs to evaluate commissioned officers for their potential continuation into Undergraduate Pilot Training.  Jong was part of this initial CFI cadre of 24 CFIs tasked with flight and classroom instruction for the USAF.  He has also used his flying skills for law enforcement activities and to support disaster relief operations. 

At this time, he does not take on primary students.  But he’d be happy to help you create a plan of action for your aviation goals post primary, e.g., fine-tune private pilot level skills, instrument training, commercial training, instructor ratings.  Additionally, he’s available for flight reviews, instrument proficiency checks, mock check rides, night currency, and mountain flying techniques.

As for mountain flying, he can provide specialized training in actual mountainous terrain near Asheville.  While you may not contemplate flying into some of those short, high elevation airfields, actually doing so can increase your confidence while overflying mountainous terrain.

Incidentally he’s also a helicopter CFI and CFI-I.  So, while we may not have helicopters for the time being, he’d be happy to address your helicopter questions as well.

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Bill Grannis
Flight Instructor

Bill started pursuing aviation in the spring of 1973 at Charleston AFB Aero Club between nuclear fleet ballistic missile submarine strategic patrols. While serving as a qualified nuclear submarine officer specializing in strategic nuclear missiles [Polaris and Poseidon], he attained all the ground instructor certificates and his instrument rating while stationed in Charleston; CFI and multi-engine certificates in Honolulu, HI; and his CFII and Multi-Engine Instructor in Long Beach, CA. During the position as Chief Instructor of a Part 141 flight school providing ground and flight instruction for private, commercial, and instrument ratings, he earned his Gold Seal Flight Instructor certificate. Bill studied Physics and Mathematics at the University of North Carolina, graduated in 1968, subsequently obtained a Navy Officer Commission, and retired after 20 years of naval service.  He earned a Masters Degree in Quality Assurance Management from Southern Polytechnic State University [now called Kennesaw State University]. He served 22 years in the Civil Air Patrol as a Squadron and Group Check Pilot, Flight Instructor, Cadet Orientation Pilot, and Emergency Services Search and Rescue Pilot retiring with the rank of Major. Bill has more than 4,000 hours flight time and more that 3,800 instructional hours.  He joined Aerowood Aviation when we first established the flight school at Monroe Airport, and became part of the team of instructors establishing a quality flight training school. In July 2023 Bill was awarded the Wright Brothers Master Pilot award for 50 years of safe flying.

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Ashton Lozzi
Flight Instructor

Ashton grew up in Charlotte, NC and always loved flying and going to the airport.  She graduated from UNCW with a double major in Criminology and French but was unsure of her career path.  In the meantime, she became a Flight Attendant for American Airlines and shortly knew she wanted to be the one at the flight controls!  Once she took a Discovery flight, she was hooked.  Ashton was accepted into the American Airlines Cadet Academy and began training in Dallas, Texas, where she completed all her certificates and ratings from Private to CFI/CFII.  She is so excited to help others achieve their flying goals and watch them learn and grow as a pilot!

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Reid Lilly
Flight Instructor, Tailwheel, TCI

Reid grew up in Myrtle Beach, SC and was introduced to aviation at 12 years old when he took his first flight at a local flight club. From then on his eyes would always be pointed towards the sky. When he was furloughed from his job as a restaurant manager in 2020, Reid decided he had had enough of the service industry and was ready for a career change. He started working on his Private Pilot certificate in Myrtle Beach before moving to Augusta, GA and finally finishing up here at Aerowood in 2021. He earned his Instrument rating, Commercial Single, and Commercial Multi Certificates at ATP in Concord, NC before returning to Aerowood to earn his CFI and CFII. Reid is a Cirrus TCI (Training Center Instructor) and is also a tailwheel instructor; he can introduce you to the art of flying taildraggers as well as give you instruction on your way to the #cirruslife. He stands ready to share his passion for flight and to help you accomplish all your aviation goals.

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Patrick Kelleher
Flight Instructor, TCI

Patrick grew up around aviation and realized his passion for it at an early age. His childhood was spent just outside Chicago where he fished, camped, and played hockey. Toward the end of high school he earned his Private Pilot certificate, then attended Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach where he completed certificates and ratings through Commercial Multi-Engine as well as playing club hockey and working as a tutor. He obtained his Instructor certificate back home in northern Illinois during the summer before graduation from Embry Riddle. Patrick is a Cirrus TCI (Training Center Instructor). After graduating in December 2022, he moved to Charlotte and joined Aerowood to continue his passion as he trains the future generation of pilots.

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Jon Warnke
Flight Instructor, TCI

Jon was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; about an hour south of Oshkosh. He started attending EAA AirVenture Oshkosh at the age of five and has loved aviation ever since. He enrolled at the aviation program at Liberty University in 2017 but started his flying at the Rock Hill airport. In 2020 he decided to finish his flight training here in Charlotte, while continuing to work on his degree online. He earned his Private Pilot certificate, then continued his flight training in Gastonia where he earned the remainder of his certificates and ratings. Jon is a Cirrus TCI (Training Center Instructor). He is very excited to be instructing and to pass on his aviation knowledge and skills to future pilots here at Aerowood.

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Hunter Stackhouse
Flight Instructor, TCI

Hunter grew up in Fayetteville, NC then had the opportunity to see the world with his military family. His passion for aviation began while living in Germany. After his first discovery flight in 2018, he fell in love with being behind the controls and moved stateside to complete his Private, Instrument, and Commercial training in Asheville, NC. After earning his CFI certificate back in Fayetteville, his next move was to Charlotte to become a CFI at Aerowood. He is a Cirrus TCI (Training Center Instructor) as well as a CFII. Hunter looks forward to sharing his love of aviation and helping you achieve your aviation goals.

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Michael Beckerman
Flight Instructor, Tailwheel

Born in Long Island, NY, Michael’s love for aviation started when he was a child. In 2012 he moved to Charlotte. While in high school, Michael soloed and completed his Private Pilot training at Aerowood before attending Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, FL. he graduated ERAU in May of 2023 with his Commercial Single and Multi and CFI/CFI-I. In addition, he can give instruction in our tailwheel aircraft. When he is not flight instructing, Michael is volunteering at local warbird hangars where he enjoys teaching others about aviation history. We are delighted that he returned to Charlotte to instruct at Aerowood and help others reach their goal of becoming a pilot.

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Preetham Varma
Flight Instructor

Preetham moved to the United States from India in 2015 to pursue a degree in Information Technology. In December 2018 he took a Discovery Flight and his passion for aviation was ignited. Following his graduation from NC State he moved to Florida to complete his training. With strong support from his Dad, Preetham endured the trials and challenges along the way and earned his certificates and ratings through Commercial, CFI, and CFII. He is now with us at Aerowood and is looking forward to helping you follow your passion and achieve your aviation goals!

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Rachel Howard
Flight Instructor

Rachel grew up in Charlotte, NC. Her passion for aviation started when she would attend airshows as a little girl with her father and grandfather. In high school, she trained and received her Private Pilot Certificate here at Aerowood Aviation. Rachel graduated from Jacksonville University in Jacksonville, Florida with an Aviation Management and Flight Operations degree and a minor in Photography. There she received her Instrument rating, Commercial Multi and Single, and CFI certificates. While in school, she was also part of her school’s clay shooting team and was president of the Women in Aviation International Club. Rachel is looking forward to helping others achieve their dreams and goals in aviation.

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Chase Gronowski
Flight Instructor, TCI

Chase earned his Private Certificate and Instrument Rating through Aerowood before heading to Myrtle Beach Academy of Aviation where he completed his certificates including CFI, CFII, and MEI. After instructing at the same Myrtle Beach Academy of Aviation he moved back to his hometown of Fort Mill, SC and joined the instructor cadre at Aerowood. He is a Cirrus TCI (Training Center Instructor). With over 500 hours of instruction experience, Chase can help you with your aviation career!

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Peter Vane
Flight Instructor, TCI

Peter was born in NJ, but has lived most of his life in NC. He discovered his passion for flying at an early age, starting when his Dad showed him ILS approaches on Flight Simulator 2004. He transformed his childhood dream into a reality by obtaining his Private Pilot Certificate, Instrument Rating, Single-Engine Commercial Certificate, and Multi-Engine Add-On at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, FL. Continuing his journey, Peter expanded his expertise by acquiring his CFI and CFII at Epic Flight Academy in New Smyrna Beach, Florida. With over 650 hours in the air, Peter has experience through various aircraft models, including Cessna, Diamond, Piper, and Cirrus (he is a Cirrus TCI (Training Center Instructor)). Peter is very excited to work with Aerowood Aviation and is looking forward to teaching the next generation of safe pilots.

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Sean Keely
Flight Instructor

Sean grew up in Charlotte, NC and his passion for aviation started at a very young age via multiple cockpit tours, attending airshows, and the occasional house flyover conducted by non other than… his father. In 2018 he earned his Private Pilot certificate with Aerowood in his family’s Piper Cherokee 180. He then went on to obtain his Instrument Rating prior to enlisting in the South Carolina Air National Guard as an F-16 Crew Chief. Following Air Force training, Sean continued his path in aviation and earned his Commercial Pilot certificate in January of 2022 and his CFI in 2023. Having owned, operated, and flown aircraft all across the southeastern United States, Sean has plenty of experience with a wealth of knowledge in real-world flying that he wishes to instill within all his students. Currently, Sean serves as an F-16 Crew Chief at the Aerospace Control Alert Facility where he helps protect the airspace throughout the eastern seaboard. He is excited to be a part of such an amazing organization here at Aerowood and help you pursue your aviation endeavors.

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Bryan Fiesco
Flight Instructor

Bryan was born in Queens, New York and grew up in NC. As a child he enjoyed being around airplanes. His passion for aviation grew when he spent some time plane airports. After a Discovery Flight in 2018, Bryan was eager to start flight training. He earned his Private Pilot certificate at Aerowood in 2020, then finished the rest of his training in Gastonia, where he earned his Instrument rating and Commercial and CFI certificates.  Bryan returned to Aerowood and is looking forward to helping future pilots achieve their goals in aviation.

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Franco Nola
Flight Instructor, Glider

Franco started his aviation journey at 14 years old when he started flying gliders, soloing in a Glider on his 14th birthday and earning his Private Pilot certificate in a Glider on his 16th birthday. He was hooked and has been gliding ever since. After graduating high school in 2020 he attended a community college and earned an Associates in Engineering degree in 2020. While he was in school he also started Airplane flight training at Aerowood and earned all of his Airplane certificates and ratings with us. On his days off from Aerowood he works as a Glider CFI and Glider Tow Pilot. Franco is now a full time CFI-Airplane looking forward to teaching and passing on his experiences to you, his students.

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Aisha Jabeen
Flight Instructor

Aisha grew up in a small town in NC and graduated from UNC-Charlotte with a Bachelors in Sociology and Biology. Post graduation a friend recommended she take an intro flight and that’s when her passion for aviation began! She started training right away and completed all of her flight training here in NC. Aisha enjoys everything about aviation, from the airports to training, and especially sharing it with her students. She is excited to be a part of your wonderful journey into the skies and looks forward to helping you achieve your aviation goals.

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Daniel Kelly
Flight Instructor

Daniel Kelly was born in Seoul, South Korea, and moved to the United States at age 13. The influence to become a pilot came from his older brother who is flying for an airline. While Daniel was studying biology at USF (University of South Florida), he was yearning towards a career in aviation. After having a discussion with his older brother, he decided to take a discovery flight and fell in love with aviation. Daniel earned his Private, Instrument, Commercial, Commercial-Multi, CFI, CFII, MEI ratings and certificates at ATP. Along with his passion for aviation and dedication to safety, he brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise. He is committed to shaping the next generation of skilled and confident pilots, and looks forward to guiding you on your journey to success in the skies.

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Corinn Gavigan
Flight Instructor

Corinn was raised in a small town in Southern California. Growing up, her parents took her across the United States to instill a love for travel and aviation. After she attended the University of Arizona, she became a Flight Attendant in order to pursue a lifestyle in aviation. Two years later she decided that her true passion was to become a pilot and enrolled in a flight school in Dallas, TX. Upon completion of her Instrument, Commercial, and CFI certificates and ratings Corinn left to instruct in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. After instructing in Milwaukee, she moved to the Charlotte area to instruct. Corinn has experience with high performance, complex, and technically advanced aircraft. She looks forward to being a part of the Aerowood community and helping you further your aviation goals.

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Cory Colvin
Flight Instructor

Cory lives in Rock Hill, SC with his wife and son. Growing up in a military household, he moved across the country several times, calling the Charlotte area home since 2005. Cory spent the past 16 years working in Charlotte as a Paramedic where he earned the titles of Tactical Paramedic (working with local and federal law-enforcement agencies), as well as Assistant Operations Supervisor. After taking a Discovery Flight as a hobby, interest and desire to form a career out of aviation grew. His initial Private Pilot training was here at Monroe, he then earned his advanced ratings out of Concord, NC. Cory’s motivation is to help others achieve their aviation goals. Feel free to reach out via email, text, or phone to see how he can help you with your journey to the skies!

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Will Phelan
Flight Instructor

Will was born and raised in Charlotte, NC where an interest in flying and aircraft began at a very young age. While studying at NC State, Will earned his Private Pilot certificate which furthered his desire for more knowledge and experience. Following graduation, a year and a half was spent as a Pitmaster at a barbecue restaurant in RTP while he worked out plans for a career in aviation. Will then earned his CFI, CFII, and MEI certificates and ratings and is looking forward to creating a fun and informative learning environment with students who share a passion for all things aviation.

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Ron Horton
Flight Instructor, Seaplane, TCI, DPE

Ron soloed to earn his student pilot certificate on his 16th birthday in 1966 – his Dad drove him to the airport (he got his driver’s license the next day). He has logged more than 5,000 flying hours; over 2,500 in the Cessna 172, the airplane Aerowood uses as a primary and instrument trainer. As an instructor, he enjoys helping advanced students realize the dreams that await them in the air, taking students to the deep satisfaction of proficient Instrument flying, and (especially) working with CFI candidates — those who would like to become a Flight Instructor. Ron is a Cirrus Training Center Instructor (TCI). In October 2016 he was awarded the Wright Brothers Master Pilot award for 50 years of safe flying; in October 2018 he was named a Distinguished Flight Instructor by the AOPA based upon feedback from his students. As an FAA Designated Pilot Examiner (DPE), Ron is able to administer Practical Tests for single engine Private Pilot and Commercial certificates, Instrument-Airplane ratings, and CFI certificates (CFI Initial, CFI-I, adding CFI-Airplane to another Category, CFI Reinstatement, and CFI Renewal)  right here at Aerowood.

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Aerowood Aviation