Meet-The-Aerowood-Aviation-Staff

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 Platinum 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.

Email Jong Lee

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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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, TCI

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. Here at Aerowood Rachel added her CFII – Instrument Instructor certificate and her TCI – she is a Cirrus Instructor. She 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 spotting.at 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 and CFII-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, TCI

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 and added her CFII certificate. Corinn has experience with high performance, complex, and technically advanced aircraft (she is a Cirrus Instructor) 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, TCI

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. He is now a TCI – Cirrus Instructor. 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, TCI

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, MEI, and TCI (Cirrus instructor) 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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Kama Rueschenberg
Flight Instructor

Kama grew up in Arizona and developed a love for travel and flying through sports competition.  She moved from Arizona to North Carolina in 2022 because she wanted to live in a state with seasons.  That same year, she became a Flight Attendant for Southwest Airlines and within a few months of working in aviation, knew she wanted to move forward to the Flight Deck!  Kama finished probation as a Flight Attendant, and three months later she was enrolled in flight school. Seven months later, she had earned her Private, Instrument, Commercial, and Multi certificates and ratings as well as her CFI, CFII, and MEI certificates.  Kama has experience with complex and technically advanced aircraft and is excited to help you achieve your flying goals and watch you learn and grow as a pilot!

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Paul Lohmann
Flight Instructor, TCI

Paul was born in a small town west of Dallas and grew up in a Navy household living in places that included Hawaii, Seattle, and Jacksonville. While in college 9/11 occurred and changed the world as we knew it. Paul joined the Air Force in 2003 as a C-17 loadmaster where he flew over 1000 combat sorties and has over 2500 hours as a loadmaster traveling the world. He has been to all seven continents and has had multiple experiences that make a well rounded aviator and instructor. After a short time in law enforcement he moved to Charlotte to be closer to family and pursue his original dream of being a pilot. Paul is a graduate of ATP and is a certified Commercial pilot, CFI, CFII, MEI, and TCI (Cirrus Instructor). With a 92 percent pass rate and over 12 check rides he qualifies as a Gold Seal certified instructor. Paul’s core values stem from the Air Force and are part of what he brings to our aviation community. Integrity first, Service before self, and Excellence in all we do! He looks forward to guiding you on your aviation journey, and your continued success in your aviation goals.

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Dax Cole
Flight Instructor

Dax was born and raised in Charlotte, NC and grew up on Lake Norman. He has had many career paths and interests, from playing music in Nashville, finishing his undergraduate degree in biology at NC State, to being a wedding photographer across North Carolina. He grew up traveling with his father, a retired Navy and Delta Air Lines pilot, and finally decided to join the family business. In 2021, he was commissioned in the Air Force and attended pilot training flying the T-6A Texan II for eight months in Texas. The peak of Dax’s flying career was getting to solo the T-6 and do aerobatics over the Rio Grande. Dax has moved from the military to continue his aviation career on the civilian side as a Flight Instructor at Aerowood and is looking forward to inspiring and teaching other aviators.

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Michael Osborne
Flight Instructor

Michael was born and raised in Charlotte NC. His love and passion for aviation developed when his uncle took him up in his Bonanza as a Christmas gift when he was 15 years old. He quickly fell in love with the freedom and enjoyment flying brought him. There was no question he wanted to be a pilot. A few years later, as a senior in high school, he made this dream a reality when he earned his Private Pilot certificate with Aerowood Aviation. He went on to get his Instrument, Commercial, Commercial-Multi, CFI, CFII, and MEI certificates and ratings with Blue Line Aviation. He has experience in high performance aircraft, complex aircraft, and conventional gear aircraft. He is back with Aerowood and is excited to help build the next generation of safe and confident pilots.

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Mitch Jensen
Flight Instructor

Mitch was born and raised in a small town in Iowa. He knew at a young age that he had a passion for aviation when his parents would bring him to Fly-In breakfasts. He graduated high school, married his sweetheart, spent some time travelling, and had two beautiful children. At age 28, he decided to finally follow his dream of pursuing a career as a pilot. Mitch graduated from the University of Dubuque in 2023 with his Bachelors in Flight Operations. During his studies, he obtained his Instrument Rating and his Commercial, CFI, and CFII certificates. He has experience in complex and technically advanced aircraft. Mitch recently moved to North Carolina with his family to escape the Iowa winters. Don’t hesitate to call or shoot him a text to see how he can help you achieve your dreams of flight!

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Jordan Baranowski
Flight Instructor

Jordan was born in Pittsburgh PA . His passion for aviation grew from a very young age when he was living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He and his father flew daily around the local area and took many trips up to Oshkosh, Wisconsin. He moved to Charlotte in 2008 and earned his Private Pilot certificate in Rock Hill SC before moving to Cleveland, Mississippi where he earned his Instrument rating and Commercial, CFI, CFII, and MEI certificates at Delta State University. With experience in complex and technically advanced aircraft, Jordan is excited to be back in the Charlotte area and is looking forward sharing the skies with you at Aerowood.

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Ken Greer
Flight Instructor

Ken is an Air Force brat and moved frequently across the US and Europe as a child. Always surrounded by aviation, Ken developed a passion for flying at a young age. Initial private pilot training and flights with EAA pilots in the Middle Georgia area was the extent of flight training before going to The Citadel for college and serving in the Marine Corps thereafter. Ken completed numerous combat tours before leaving active duty for the pursuit of a civilian career while serving in the USMC Reserve. Ken then reengaged his passion for flying and began training with Aerowood Aviation.  Ken is a husband, father, Commercial pilot, CFI, and CFII who brings vast life experiences and a servant leadership approach to his training.  He looks forward to partnering with you to reach your aviation goals.

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Christina Wilbern
Flight Instructor

Bio coming soon!

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Tyler Liester
Flight Instructor

Bio coming soon!

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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 single engine CFI certificates right here at Aerowood.

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Aerowood Aviation