Meet the Crew

Tampa Bay Aviation offers quality yet flexible Part 61 flight instruction from experienced instructors.
We feature an online scheduling program to keep you flying as well as available staff to answer any questions you may have. Our flight instructors share years of unique professional experience to tailor instruction to your needs as well as interests.

Zack Taylor – Owner
Contact: Zack@TampaBayAviation.com

Zack Taylor has been a Certified Flight Instructor (CFI, CFII) in helicopters since 2008. Zack is also a Designated Pilot Examiner with the Tampa FSDO and provides in-house check rides for our helicopter students. When Zack is not at the flight school, he is usually flying Eurocopters for AirLife in Florida and Georgia. Prior to flying EMS Zack flew Bell Helicopters in the Gulf of Mexico to the oil platforms and also has experience flying tours as well as years of flight instruction experience in the Tampa Bay area. His turbine helicopter and “real world” experience along with his teaching background make him a well-rounded instructor.

Zack has the following ratings:
   • Airline Transport Pilot - Helicopter
   • Certified Flight Instructor (Instrument)
   • Designated Pilot Examiner

 

 

 

 

 

Laura Taylor – Owner
Contact: Laura@TampaBayAviation.com

Laura Taylor has been a Certified Flight Instructor (CFI, CFII, MEI) in airplanes since 2006. She comes from a family of pilots and grew up around aviation, which has created a passion for aviation. Laura and her husband, Zack, opened up the flight school in March of 2012 and have truly enjoyed growing the company to where it stands today and introducing hundred of new people to aviation. Recently, Laura completed the Cirrus Factory training to become a Cirrus Instructor (CSIP) and purchased a 2010 SR22 for the flight school. When not flying, Laura enjoys spending time with her husband and two sons and being on the water.

Laura has the following ratings:
   • Commercial Pilot Multi Engine Land
   • Commercial Pilot Single Engine Land & Sea
   • Private Pilot Rotorcraft
   • Certified Flight Instructor (CFI, CFII, MEI)

 

 

 

 

 

Chris Simons – Airplane Flight Instructor
Contact: Chris@TampaBayAviation.com

Chris became interested in aviation after flying in several small airplanes as a child. After working and saving up money for several years, Chris earned his Private Pilot's License in high school. After graduating college with his business degree, Chris moved back to the Tampa Bay area and finished his flight training to become an instructor. Chris holds the following ratings:

Chris holds the following ratings:
   • Commercial Pilot Single Engine Land and Instrument
   • Commercial Pilot - Helicopter
   • Certified Flight Instructor (CFI, CFII)


 

 

 

 

Jose L. Gonzalezs – Airplane Flight Instructor
Contact: Jose@TampaBayAviation.com

Jose is originally from Bogota, Colombia. As a child, Jose had always aspired to become a pilot. In 2012, he moved to Tampa and started his flight training in with ATP Flight School in St. Petersburg. He returned to Colombia to continue his training and became a Commercial Pilot. Now he is instructing here at the Clearwater Airpark. Jose has the following ratings:

Jose has the following ratings:
  • Commercial: Single/Multi Engine Land
  • (CFI, CFII, MEI)

 

 

 

 

 

James Horrisberger – Airplane Flight Instructor
Contact: James@TampaBayAviation.com
 

James is originally from Minneapolis, Minnesota and relocated to Florida in 2000. His passion for aviation began at the age of 3, when he first flew with his father, a private pilot. After high school James pursued a career in the golf industry for over a decade until he began flight training. James received his private pilot rating at Peter O'Knight airport in Tampa, Florida and continued his training with ATP, a commercial flight training school, at St. Pete Clearwater International Airport. Upon completion of the Airline Career Pilot Program with ATP he began his career with Tampa Bay Aviation.

James holds the following ratings:
   • Commercial Single And Multi Engine Land
   • Certified Flight Instructor (CFI, CFII, MEI)

 

 


 

 

 

Michael Padron – Airplane Flight Instructor
Contact: Michael@TampaBayAviation.com
 

Originally from Cary, North Carolina, Mike began his career in aviation in 2005 after enlisting in the U.S. Navy as an Aviation Electronics Technician with Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 53, Joint Base Andrews, MD. After 5 years of service, he separated from active duty and moved to Daytona Beach, FL in order to pursue his college degree and begin his flight training at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. During his time there, Mike obtained his Commercial multi-engine rating and graduated with a Bachelors Degree in Aeronautical Science in 2014. Shortly thereafter, Mike moved to St. Petersburg FL, to further his flight training and obtain his flight instructor certificate, and began instructing at Tampa Bay Aviation.

Mike holds the following ratings:
   • Commercial Single/Multi Engine Land
   • Certified Flight Instructor (CFI)

 

 


 

 

 

Chris DeSimone – Airplane Flight Instructor
Contact: ChrisDeSimone@TampaBayAviation.com

 

Chris DeSimone is a native of Oklahoma City, OK and has been all over the country with both parents being former military. Flying has always been a lifelong passion for him which he began to pursue at the age of 16, earning his Private Pilot Certificate at age 17 while in high school. After graduating in 2012, Chris continued his education at Louisiana Tech University which is a national accredited collegiate aviation university, and chose to major in Professional Aviation while minoring in Aviation Management. He obtained Instrument, Commercial, CFI, and CFII at Louisiana Tech University allowing him to graduate in the fall of 2014. Following his graduation, Chris started work at Tampa Bay Aviation where he fully enjoys instructing and providing new experiences in flight to students.

Chris has the following ratings:
   • Commercial Single Engine
   • Certified Flight Instructor (CFI, CFII)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roland Collins – Commercial Helicopter Pilot
Contact: Roland@TampaBayAviation.com
 

Roland’s interest in aviation began when he was a kid living near Pease Air Force base in New Hampshire. When he was 18, he began flying fixed-wing aircraft at Daniel Webster College in Nashua, NH, where he majored in Aviation Administration & Flight Operations. After more than two decades, which included a combined 16 years of police work and insurance fraud investigations, he reinvested in his passion to fly by training in helicopters. Since obtaining his helicopter private pilot license in 2007, he has acquired his Instrument and Commercial Pilot ratings and flies the Robinson 44, Raven I helicopter at TBA’s Albert Whitted Airport location entertaining tourists and locals alike with tours of St. Petersburg and the area beaches.

Roland has the following ratings:
   • Commercial Pilot - Helicopter
   • Instrument Rating

 

 

 

 

 

 

Michelle Rottmund – Helicopter Flight Instructor
Contact: Mrottmund@TampaBayAviation.com

 

Michelle is originally from Lancaster, PA. After high school she joined the Navy, where she was stationed in San Diego for 7 years of active duty service. Following her time in the military she attended Blue Sky Aviation in central California to begin her career as a helicopter pilot.

Michelle has the following ratings:
   • Commercial - Helicopter
   • Certified Flight Instructor (CFI, CFII)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Andy Burns - Helicopter/Airplane Flight Instructor
Contact: Andy@TampaBayAviation.com

 

Andy was introduced to aviation at the young age of 11. Knowing that he wanted to be a Pilot even before this, he was lucky enough to start flying with a few Pilots in his neighborhood while growing up. From 2004 to 2008 he served in the US Marine Corps as a CBRNE Defense Specialist, Operations Manager, and EOD Security Team Member. Starting in January 2011, Andy attended Bristow Academy achieving his instrument and commercial rotorcraft certificates. In January 2012 he transferred to Palm Beach Helicopters and finished his Certified Flight Instructor Rating. His real world experience from government contract jobs makes him a great addition to our diverse team. Shortly after completing his helicopter training, Andy completed his fixed wing ratings in Arizona. Andy has been skydiving as a hobby since 2011 and BASE jumping since 2012.

Andy holds the following ratings:
   • Commercial Pilot Single/Multi Engine Land
   • Commercial Pilot Helicopter
   • Certified Flight Instructor
        Helicopter (CFI)
        Airplane (CFI, MEI, CFII)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Michelle O’Keefe – Director of Operations
Contact: Michelle@TampaBayAviation.com

Michelle is the Director of Operations here at Tampa Bay Aviation. Joining our team in 2013, she began working on the business operations side of the company before reaching into aircraft operations. Graduating from Florida State University with a Bachelor of Arts, Michelle continues to be on the pursuit of knowledge, now within the world of aviation. Michelle's previous experience in management, sales, and business organization has allowed her to greatly contribute to our rapidly growing company.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jessica Shepherd - Executive Marketing Director
Contact: Jessica@TampaBayAviation.com

Jessica Shepherd joined Tampa Bay Aviation in February 2014 and is currently the company’s Executive Marketing Director. In this role, she is responsible for coordinating and managing all marketing, advertising, and communication efforts. Jessica is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing from USF which allows her to bring to the table a fresh and unique marketing perspective. She focuses on social media marketing and building an online presence for the company. Outside of the office, Jessica enjoys photography, and her new position here at Tampa Bay Aviation has allowed her to uncover a new passion for aerial photography.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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