Staff


Tony SperanzaDirector of Operations


Tony joined VFA last Fall and has been helping to restructure and update our procedures to better support our flight instructors and students. Tony’s prior experience focused on development and manufacturing of advanced semiconductor products. He was a Sr. Engineering Manager at IBM Microelectronics and holds more then 12 US Patents. His education includes degrees in Electrical Engineering, Mathematics & Material Engineering (MS). He also worked as a technical business consultant through both SEMATECH & ISMI in Austin, TX.

 Tony is also a Certified Flight Instructor (CFII) since 1997 and operates his own aircraft & flight instruction business. Hi is also an FAA Certified A & P Mechanic with Inspection Authorization privileges. Tony built his own aircraft, N956TS, a Van’s RV-180 which is certified for night, instrument & Aerobatic flight. He specializes in RV-6 training for which he has an FAA approved training program (under LODA).

 Tony has been involved in STEM & youth education for many years. He taught at the College Level (Midlands Tech, Columbia SC) and is actively engaged in youth & aviation education through the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA).


Janel SofkaOffice Manager


Janel has been Office Manager and a part of the VFA team since Fall 2014. She has been instrumental in assisting VFA during the last few years to accommodate our student growth and facilitate efficient operations.

Janel has over 10 years of experience working in a variety of office positions; giving her unique experience and the ability to take on multiple tasks at once. She has worked in data entry psotions, then moved up to becoming a legal admin. Her previous position  in California before moving to Vermont was working for a manufacturing company, assisting in production and accounting. Janel is very hard working, and dedicated to VFA and its success.

Being from Southern California, Janel enjoys Vermont summers. She loves to go paddle boarding on Lake Champlain and taking her Boston Terrier Beans to Burlington’s many dog parks. You can catch Beans now and then playing with students in our VFA lobby and napping in the sun.


Lynsey HartshornOffice Manager


Lynsey is our new Office Manager and has joined our team this past Summer. More info on lynsey to come…


Kenneth MinckMechanic


Ken has been a part of our Maintenance Team at VFA for the past two years. ( more on Ken to come…).

Instructors


Levi Whitaker Chief Flight Instructor


Levi has been with VFA as a Flight Instructor for 2 years and has demonstrated excellent Instruction skills and professionalism. Levi is a new addition to our  Chief Flight Instructor team and will be Chief  Flight Instructor for our Private and Instrument Students.

Levi became interested in aviation at a young age through his fascination with the history of World War II, and military aviation. After graduating from High School in VT, Levi decided to make his interest a career, quickly becoming a Private Pilot.  Levi went on to earn his Commercial rating, CFI and CFII while in college and has recently graduated from Utah Valley University, earning a Bachelors degree in Aviation Sciences.

Certificates & Ratings
  • Commercial Certificate
  • Certified Flight Instructor
  • CFI Instrument

Daniel Lathrop  Chief Flight Instructor


Dan is a new addition to the VFA team specializing in Multi Engine Flight Instruction. He is our Chief Flight Instructor for Multi Engine Land and Multi Engine Instrument.

Dan started flying at the age of 21, after he took a glider ride at the Morrisville airport and totally fell in love. After earning his glider rating he went back to school to earn a 4 year Aviation degree in Long Island, NY. He continued to fly during college by working summers at a glider operation. Dan has been instructing for many years and is currently the pilot of a King Air, and a Cirrus. Dan loves instructing for VFA part time as it gives him the chance to pass on his knowledge and experience to other students and instructors.

When Dan isn’t flying he’s racing a side by side all over New England, riding his motorcycle, hanging on his boat, or snow machining in the winter. Dan’s favorite quote is by Leonardo da Vinci, “For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return.”

Certificates & Ratings
  • ATP Certificate
  • Multi Engine Rating
  • Certified Flight Instructor
  • CFI Instrument
  • CFI Multi Engine
  • CFI Glider

James Chitwood Safety Officer -Flight Instructor


James began his interest in aviation from an early age, but never thought he would have the opportunity to pursue training. After High School, he joined the U.S. Army as an Infantryman. His desire to pursue aviation came during a combat deployment to Afghanistan, where they had close air support from various types of aircraft. James was amazed by the capabilities of both the pilots, and the equipment they flew. After the military, he focused on raising a family and pursuing secondary education. James enrolled in Vermont Technical College’s Professional Pilot Program in 2013, and graduated in 2017. As an instructor, James strives to provide students with a safe and positive learning environment, while sharing his passion for aviation with students of all ages.

Certificates & Ratings
  • Commercial Certificate
  • Certified Flight Instructor
  • CFI Instrument

Hobbie TomlinsonDesignated Pilot Examiner


Hobie is one of VFA’s Designated Pilot Examiners and the Chief Flight Instructor for VTC’s Pilot Technology Program. Hobie got his start in aviation in 1960 as a Line Service Technician (LST) – and later as an aircraft mechanic (A&P) for Northern Airways in Burlington, VT. Hobie is a member of SAFE (Society of Aviation Educators), a 6 Time Master Flight Instructor (MCFI), A Cirrus Standardized Instructor Pilot (CSIP), A Gold Seal Instructor and was the FAA National CFI of the Year for 2012. His specializations include Cirrus Aircraft, and other advanced training (Tail Wheel & Seaplane). Hobie’s teaching philosophy is: Train to produce safe, competent pilots who are able to display  professionalism in the cockpit.

Certificates & Ratings
  • Commercial Certificate
  • Multi Engine Rating
  • Certified Flight Instructor
  • CFI Instrument
  • CFI Multi Engine
  • ATP Certificate
  • Designated Pilot Examiner
  • Aircraft Dispatcher
  • Aircraft Mechanic (Airframe & Powerplant)

Doug Smith VTC Program Director & DPE


Doug Smith co-founded Vermont Flight Academy in 2009 and serves as president of the flight school. Over the course of his career, Doug has accumulated the following certificates and ratings: Airline Transport Pilot, Single and Multiengine, Land and Sea; CFI and CFII; Advanced and Instrument Certified Ground Instructor. Doug is also a Designated FAA Pilot Examiner and performs the majority of check rides for VFA students.

Over the course of his extensive career, Doug has served as Captain on a B-727, B-757, B-767, B-777 and a C-172. He has amassed over 34,300 hours total time, and counting.

Doug loves teaching private pilots and enjoys the responsibility of being a Designated FAA Pilot Examiner.  He is dedicated to the health and growth of general aviation.

Certificates & Ratings
  • Commercial Certificate
  • Multi Engine Rating
  • Certified Flight Instructor
  • CFI Instrument
  • CFI Multi Engine
  • ATP Certificate

Joe Kolk Flight Instructor


Joe Kolk had an interest in aviation for many years from watching airplanes fly over his home in Williston, Vermont. In pursuit of his passion for aviation Joe took a discovery flight at Vermont Flight Academy at age 16. From this amazing experience Joe looked to continue his flight lessons and enrolled in the Vermont Technical College Professional Pilot Program.

Certificates & Ratings
  • Commercial Certificate
  • Certified Flight Instructor
  • CFI Instrument

George Tucker Flight Instructor


George’s interest in aviation was sparked at the age of 11, when he took his first ride in a small aircraft. After that, he was hooked and continued his pursuit of aviation. George ended up soloing on his 16th birthday, and got his private license before graduating high school. He then enrolled in Vermont Technical College’s Pilot Technology Program. George enjoys flying tailwheel aircraft into grass strips and seaplanes around Lake Champlain. In addition to his flight experience, George is also working on his airframe and power plant certificate (A&P).

Certificates & Ratings
  • Commercial Certificate
  • Certified Flight Instructor
  • CFI Instrument
  • Tailwheel
  • Seaplane

Travis Benson Flight Instructor


Travis has been interested in flying ever since he was a young boy going on plane rides, to airshows, and aviation museums. After graduating from high school, he pursued his career in Aviation starting at the Community College of Beaver County in PA. Travis completed their two-year program then transferred into the 4-year Bachelor’s in Aviation degree at Vermont Technical College: where he graduated in the spring of 2016.

Certificates & Ratings
  • Commercial Certificate
  • Certified Flight Instructor
  • CFI Instrument
  • Tailwheel

Stephen Gedney Flight Instructor


Stephen Gedney’s interest in aviation began at a very young age, while riding in the backseat of a family friends Cessna 180 on floats with his mom. Learning more about the rich history of Naval and Air Force aviation on both sides of Stephen’s Family, as well as taking a few 172 flights in high school, brought him to the conclusion that a career in professional aviation would be the path to take. Stephen started at Vermont Technical College in the Fall of 2014 and will be graduating in May 2018. In his free time, Stephen’s passions are hunting, fishing, riding his motorcycle, weight lifting, and other outdoor activities. After graduation, he plans to continue to build time as a flight instructor and then pursuing a career in agricultural aviation as a crop duster. A career in corporate aviation also sparks his interest.

Certificates & Ratings
  • Commercial Certificate
  • Certified Flight Instructor
  • CFI Instrument
  • Multi Engine Rating
  • Seaplane
  • Tailwheel

Keegan MulliganFlight Instructor


Keegan has always loved flying, however, in his youth he thought that becoming a pilot wasn’t realistic. Through High School, he pursued a career in precision tool making, but after a short time he decided he wanted a career that was exciting every day. Aviation was the only thing that came to mind. At the time, Keegan was flying a model airplane when he thought, “Someone has to fly the big ones, so why can’t I?” After doing some research into Aviation as a career, he realized that it was a completely obtainable goal, and enrolled in the Professional Pilot Program at Vermont Technical College. Keegan has done very well in the program and will be graduating this spring. He continues to gain more ratings and Flight Time as an Instructor with VFA to help him achieve his career goal.

Certificates & Ratings
  • Commercial Certificate
  • Certified Flight Instructor
  • Tailiwheel
  • Seaplane

Alex Horton Flight Instructor


Alex grew up in a neighborhood near the final approach path of the Manchester, NH Airport. He would always watch the planes fly overhead and come in to land, which sparked his interest in aviation. When he was older, Alex decided to pursue his interest in aviation by enrolling in the VTC Professional Pilot Technology Program. After taking his first flights he instantly fell in love. Alex graduated from the program in May of 2017. Every day Alex looks forward to teaching others how to fly and enjoy aviation as much as he does. His career goal is to one day join the military and serve his country as a pilot, with the skills he has acquired.

Certificates & Ratings
  • Commercial Certificate
  • Certified Flight Instructor
  • CFI Instrument

Jonathan Rose Flight Instructor


Certificates & Ratings
  • Commercial Certificate
  • Certified Flight Instructor
  • CFI Instrument
  • Multi Engine Rating

Matthew Luck Flight Instructor


Matt received his Private Pilot License from Vermont Fight Academy and completed the rest of his flight training in NC and FL. In addition to teaching at VFA, Matt instructs for the Professional Pilot Technology B.S. Degree program at Vermont Tech.

Matt spent most of his life in the western. U.S. He has a Ph.D. in Biology and moved to Vermont in 2008 for a position in computer science at UVM. He enjoys traveling and keeping active in the outdoors. In his spare time he works as a rock and ice climbing guide.

Certificates & Ratings
  • Commercial Certificate
  • Certified Flight Instructor
  • CFI Instrument

Kathy Daily Flight Instructor


Kathy Daily works part time with VFA as a Tailwheel and Acrobatic Instructor. Kathy’s  start in aviation came with a flying lesson that was a gift. She fell in love with the feel of an airplane because it reminded her of riding horses, her first love. She has a background of over nine years as a commuter airline captain, overseas ferry pilot, and professional airshow pilot with a civilian jet team. Kathy enjoys teaching basic aerobatics and tailwheel transitions the most. She has shared these skills with pilots in a Citabria, Decathlon, and Pitts trainers.

Certificates & Ratings
  • Commercial Certificate
  • Multi Engine Rating
  • Certified Flight Instructor
  • CFI Instrument
  • CFI Multi Engine
  • Tailwheel
  • Acrobatic

Daniel GrantFlight Instructor


Dan Grant has been a part of VFA for the past few years. He is a part time instructor and also flies on the weekends. Dan became interested in aviation when he was in middle-school. His science teacher created an Aerospace Club to help get kids interested in science and engineering. Years later, while on summer break from college, Dan decided to get his private pilot certificate. He loved it so much that he went on to gain his CFI, Commercial, Instrument, single-engine and multi engine land ratings. For Dan, teaching aviation is all about helping the student to relax, learn, and have fun realizing their goals.

Certificates & Ratings
  • Commercial Certificate
  • Certified Flight Instructor
  • CFI Instrument
  • CFI Multi Engine

Dick Ferno Flight Instructor


Dick Ferno started flying in 1963 in a J-3 Cub. He spent 36 years as an air traffic controller, allowing him to bring an invaluable perspective on flight safety to VFA. He spent four years as an Air Force controller from 1964 – 1968. Dick especially enjoys teaching the instrument rating and flight in advanced aircraft. He believes that his job as an instructor and mentor is to make every pilot safe and to help them strive to be the best they can be

Certificates & Ratings
  • ATP Certificate
  • Multi Engine Rating
  • Certified Flight Instructor
  • CFI Instrument
  • CFI Multi Engine

Adam Deem Flight Instructor


Adam has had an obsession with airplanes and flying since shortly after he learned to walk. Adam learned to fly at a small flight school in Ohio and contined at the University of Cincinnati. Adam has worked as a commercial pilot since 2002 and his experience includes flying skydivers in numerous aircraft types as well as gliders in Germany. Adam is a 12-year Air Force Veteran and served as an air traffic controller and aircraft maintenance officer. Adam also has a passion for antique aircraft and grass-roots aviation.

Certificates & Ratings
  • Commercial Certificate
  • Certified Flight Instructor
  • CFI Instrument
  • Glider