Society of Aviation and Flight Educators eNewsletter  
From the Executive Director's Seat
Mentoring Program Update
Help Wanted
The Profitable Instructor
Recent Master Instructors
1 November 2015 

SAFE represents more than 900 of the industry's top aviation educators in 49 states and nine foreign countries, including the majority of Master Instructors and numerous General Aviation Awards winners in all four awards categories. SAFE developed and is now offering Regional Pilot Proficiency Projects across the U.S.


From the Executive Directors Seat

First things first. I would like to say a "Thank You," to John Dorcey for 'Captaining' the SAFE ship in the interim and for all of your help and guidance during the transition. Thank you sir. "I have the controls."

It is indeed a privilege to be given this opportunity to pilot such a prestigious organization. But, that said, I cannot do it alone. Just as it takes a crew to get a large aircraft airborne, so it also takes a crew to move this organization forward. For the sake of space I have put my plans, thoughts and vision for the future of SAFE on our website. I invite you to sit back, read, ponder and respond. I welcome your input and ideas and look forward to meeting all of you at some time in the future. 

SAFE is presently working on some new programs and updating some old ones. The board, committee chairs and I, are asking all of the members to update their profiles on the website. Please make any changes such as new certificates, addresses, e-mail addresses and phone numbers. We also ask you to update any new aircraft flown. Some of the profiles are dated back to 2010 so we are asking for current information.

We have received some requests for help and need current statistics to help us as we work to identify the right people. 

I will be attending the 'Red Bird Migration' in San Marcos, TX on the second and third of November. I will give an update in the December newsletter and will also put the full report on the web by the middle of November. Till then...

Blue Skys and Tailwinds,


Mentoring Program Update
The program committee is presently working on updating and expanding the mentoring program. I have been involved with several discussions with the program chairman and a committee meeting, and find out that we are 'on the same page' with regards to the new direction we need to take the program. I have spelled out my vision for it in my address on the web but stay tuned for more information in future newsletters and on the web. Interested in looking into the mentoring program? Contact me and I will get you started. 

A brief word regarding mentoring. Everyone could be and use a 'Mentor.' For example, I have been around aviation for some time now. Actually since 1961. When it comes to Instrument Procedures I feel that I can be a valuable asset. But, I need help from the younger CFI's on, for instance, the G1000. 

We all are indeed mentors in our own way. What is your strong suit? Is it on your profile?

Stay tuned for more updates. Questions, concerns or inputs? Let me know. Be SAFE!


Help Wanted, Aviation Professionals
To coin a phrase established by one of our most prestigious branches of our military, with one change, SAFE is looking for a few good people.

Want to get involved, be part of a group who moves an organization, your organization, forward? Want to expand your horizon, your contacts? Meet fellow Aviation Educators from around the country?  Then we need you!

Presently there are several committees in need of not only members but chair persons to guide it. You would work alongside a board member who will be the 'Liaison' between your group and the board. The committees met once a month via a phone or internet meeting. 

Do you have a particular interest or expertise in a particular area? Advance your knowledge of the committee subject matter as well as the operation of YOUR organization. You could also expand your contacts that could lead to doors opening. 

Already opened those doors, been around the patch a couple of times? Then why not pay it forward and pass on your knowledge and experience. Share the wealth.

Don't just sit back and wish we would do more in supporting our membership. Get involved and make it happen.
Current Committees in need of members,
  • Audit
  • Finance
  • Flight training and Safety
  • Government Affairs
  • Marketing and Advertising
  • Membership
  • Mentoring
  • Program Development
  • Resource Center
  • Social Media
Interested, Give me a call (as a 'benefit' of my position, I am a member of all of of the committees) so step up and give me your support. It will be much appreciated by all members of YOUR organization.



The Profitable Instructor
(Or how to make money teaching)

There are two truths in aviation.  One, you can make a lot of money teaching and two; a lot of people don't believe it.   I've got 25 years of sales experience and have proved that attracting the right customers is the key to success.  Every month, I'll share some of the "sales secrets" which have helped me and can help you too. 
Last month we talked about how to differentiate your self and get more clients by charging more than other local flight instructors.  This month we are going to talk about teaching vs. owning a traditional flight school. What's the difference between teaching and owning a flight school?  An independent instructor will always make more money than the owner of a flight school.  
But wait you say, if I own the flight school, I can make money on the airplane rentals, and charge monthly members, and buy a simulator, and sells supplies.   It's true you will have a higher income but, you will make less money, because you pay all the overhead like, rent, utilities, payroll, payroll taxes, business licenses, accounting and legal expenses. Before you start building your flight school, you need to know a very important term R.O.I.
R.O.I. means return on investment.  It's a standard measurement that many business people don't use and it's the biggest reason flight schools fail.  Let's do a very simple example.  If your monthly investment for a flight school is made up of $1200 for rent and utilities.  That means if you keep teaching, at $50 per hour, you have to work for 24 hours just to pay for the school and you won't get any of it!  An independent instructor has much lower overhead and only has to work 3 hours to cover costs.

As a flight school owner for almost 10 years I have worked at least 20-30 hours per week just running the business.  Scheduling, customer service, employees, airplane maintenance, taxes, paperwork, billing, emails, and phone calls will use up your life and they are unpaid activities.  Money you earn of rentals etc will have to cover this.  If you get paid $50 per hour as an instructor this means unless you make a profit of at least $1000 per week and take it all home as a salary you will be making less money than if you were teaching.  Income does not equal profit.
So why did I own a flight school?  There are three really great things about it.  My brand name is on the building, I get to make all the rules, and it sounds cool when I tell people I own a flight school.  In other words owning a flight school is good for the ego.  I'm not saying you can't make money owning a flight school but it comes at a cost.  The biggest cost for me, besides making less money per hour, is that I didn't have time to teach or fly. This is why I've closed the brick and mortar school and become a virtual flight school.  A virtual flight school exists on the Internet, in branding, and provides instruction.  The student just pays someone else for the airplane rental.
You partner with one or more existing brick and mortar flight schools and use their airplanes and infrastructure.  Trust me the owners will love you for renting their airplanes, as long as you respect their rules.  It also allows you much more freedom and time to do what you love, flying! 
Did I get it right or wrong?  What are your experiences with owning a flight school?  Let me know
About the Author:

Gary Reeves, is a two-time Master Instructor, FAA Safety Team Lead Rep, National Public Speaker, Flight School Owner, and a proud member of S.A.F.E.  To learn more about him please visit

Recent Master Instructor Designations
Congratulations to these SAFE members!

Charles Arthur "Charlie" SKELTON, Master CFI    (Renew:  15Oct15)  
Branford  CT
Col Charles A Skelton (USMC, Ret), a 8-time Master and SAFE member, recently renewed his Master CFI accreditation.  Charlie is the chief pilot for CAS Aviation and president of Yale Aviation, a flying club at Tweed-New Haven Airport (HVN), where he provides training in airplanes, helicopters, gliders, and gyroplanes.  Additionally, he serves as a FAASTeam representative in the FAA's Windsor Locks FSDO area. 

Robert Michael "Rob" SCHAPIRO, Master CFI   (Initial: 6Oct15) 
Tampa  FL
Robert M Schapiro, a 1
st-time Master and SAFE member, recently earned his initial Master CFI accreditation.  Rob is a US Army helicpoter aviator and instructor pilot at Clearwater, Florida.  Additionally, he provides civilian fixed wing and rotorcraft flight training with Middle River Aviation at Maryland's Martin State Airport (MTN) along with some other airports / heliports.

David James "Dave" MC VINNIE, Master CFI    (Renew: 15Oct15) 
Albuquerque  NM
David J McVinnie, a 10-time Master and SAFE member, recently renewed his Master CFI accreditation.  A retired US Air Force veteran, Dave is the president of McVinnie Aviation LLC where he specializes in technically advanced aircraft flight and ground training.  He also serves as a pilot examiner(DPE) and FAASTeam representative in the FAA's Albuquerque FSDO area.  He was only the seventh (7thaviation educator to earn the Master designation when the accreditation program was introduced by then-FAA Administrator Barry Valentine during Oshkosh AirVenture 1997. 

Helen Dalman "Pat" KNIGHT, Master CFI    (Renew: 15Oct15)  
Flower Mound  TX
Pat Knight, a 10-time Master and a founding member of SAFE, recently renewed her Master CFI accreditation.  A retired US Air Force officer, a longtime pilot examiner
 (DPE) and flight instructor, Pat is currently an Aviation Safety Inspector (ASI) with the FAA Flight Standards program at Alliance Airport (AFW) in Fort Worth where she specializes in human factors in aviation, accident prevention and investigation, and glider as well as multiengine flight training.  She was only the second (2ndaviation educator to earn the Master designation when the accreditation program was first introduced by then-FAA Administrator Barry Valentine at Oshkosh AirVenture 1997.

William Ralph "Bill" GROSS, Master CFI    (Renew:  28Oct15)   
Salina  KS

William R Gross, a 7-time Master and SAFE member, recently renewed his Master CFI accreditation.  Specializing in flight and ground training as well as classroom instruction, Bill is a professor of aviation and the chief flight instructor in Kansas State University's College of Technology and Aviation at Salina Municipal Airport (SLN).  He also serves as a pilot examiner
 (DPE) and FAASTeam representative in the FAA's Wichita FSDO area.

Lara Zook GAERTE, Master CFI    (Renew:  20Oct15) 
Fort Wayne  IN
Lara Gaerte, a 5-time Master and SAFE member, recently renewed her Master CFI accreditation. Lara is the CEO, manager, and chief pilot of Century Aviation, a full-service FBO at DeKalb County Airport
 (GWB).  She also serves as the president aa well as airplane division director of the Air Race Classic and is a FAASTeam representative in the FAA's South Bend FSDO area.

Edgar Melville "Ed" FINK, Master CFI      (Renew:  15Oct6Sep13)   
Fort Myers  FL
Edgar M Fink, a 10-time Master and a SAFE member, recently renewed his Master CFI accreditation.  A retired US Army officer, Ed is an independent flight and ground instructor at Page Field Airport (FMY) in Fort Myers.  He also serves with the US Coast Guard Auxiliary, the Sundowners Search & Rescue Flying Club, and was a longtime FAASTeam representative for the FAA's Tampa FSDO area.  He was only the fifth (5thaviation educator to earn the Master designation when the accreditation program was first introduced by then-FAA Administrator Barry Valentine at Oshkosh AirVenture 1997. 

Blue Skys and Tailwinds

Bill Moyle, Executive Director
Society of Aviation and Flight Educators
Copyright SAFE, Inc. 2015. All rights reserved.
SAFE, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) Tax-Exempt Public Charity -- --