Meet the Crew

Tampa Bay Aviation proudly introduces our airplane and helicopter full time, part time, charter and tour pilots. Tampa Bay Aviation offers quality yet flexible Part 61 fixed wing and helicopter flight instruction as well as Part 141 helicopter flight instruction from experienced and well rounded instructors. Our pilots are available for airplane and helicopter charters as well as airplane and helicopter commercial operations. Tampa Bay Aviation flight instructors share years of unique professional experience allowing them to tailor to student and customer needs as well as interests. Please feel free to contact our offices if you would like to schedule a time to speak with one of our pilots or staff regarding your aviation needs.

Zack Taylor – Owner, Chief Helicopter Pilot, Helicopter Charter Pilot
Contact: Zack@TampaBayAviation.com

Zack currently oversees Tampa Bay Aviation's part 61 and part 141 helicopter flight school as chief helicopter instructor and is also Tampa Bay Aviation's helicopter charter chief pilot as well as director of operations. His previous experience includes flying Eurocopters for AirLife in Florida and Georgia as well as Bell Helicopters in the Gulf of Mexico to the oil platforms. Zack's extensive experience and knowledge with helicopters drives Tampa Bay Aviation's helicopter flight school to exceed expectations and continue to grow into a prestigious establishment also including helicopter tours and now helicopter charters.

Zack has the following ratings:
   • Airline Transport Pilot: Helicopter
   • Certified Flight Instructor: Helicopter CFI, CFII
   • Commercial: Single Engine Land

 

 

 

 

 

 

Laura Taylor – Owner, Chief Airplane Pilot, Airplane Charter Pilot
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 fueled her passion. 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 hundreds of new people to aviation. Laura has completed the Cirrus Factory training to become a Cirrus Instructor (CSIP) and enjoys transitioning people in our SR22 or SR20, or their own aircraft. In addition to flight instructing, Laura also enjoys flying as a contract pilot in a King Air 350, Challenger 604/605, and Citations. When not flying, Laura enjoys spending time with her husband and two sons and being on the water.

Laura has the following ratings:
   • Commercial: Single/Multi Engine Land & Sea
   • Airline Transport Pilot: Fixed Wing
   • Certified Flight Instructor: Fixed Wing CFI, CFII, MEI

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ben Contreras – Airplane Flight Instructor, Airplane Charter Pilot, Airplane Tour Pilot
Contact: Ben@TampaBayAviation.com

 

Ben Contreras was born and raised in New York City. He moved to Florida in 2004 to pursue his dreams of flying and enrolled in Delta Connection Academy out of Sanford, Florida. After achieving his private, commercial, instrument and certified flight instructor rating, Ben relocated to the Clearwater Airpark and worked as a flight instructor for two years before transitioning to a position with a reginal airline. After flying international as a first officer for two years, Ben choose to leave the airlines and return to doing what he loves, which is helping people learn to fly. He has been with Tampa Bay Aviation since 2014 and recently moved into a position as a charter pilot.

Ben has the following ratings:
   • Commercial: Single/Multi Engine Land
   • Certified Flight Instructor: Fixed Wing CFI

 

 

 

 

 

Ryan Cheney –Assistant Chief Airplane Instructor
Contact: Ryan@TampaBayAviation.com

 

Ryan Cheney was born and raised in Clearwater, FL and took an interest in flying at a young age. His first general aviation flight was out of Clearwater Airpark in 2002. Ryan studied Aviation at Quincy University in Illinois; in 2013 he received his Bachelor of Science in Aviation along with his commercial, multi-engine and instructor ratings. After graduation, Ryan stayed at his Alma mater as a flight school instructor and then returned to Clearwater Airpark and began instructing at Tampa Bay Aviation.

Ryan has the following ratings:
   • Commercial: Single/Multi Engine Land
   • Certified Flight Instructor: Fixed Wing CFI, MEI

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Michael Padron – Airplane Flight Instructor, Airplane Tour Pilot
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: Fixed Wing CFI, MEI

 

 


 

 

 

Mario Espaillat – Airplane Flight Instructor
Contact: Mario@TampaBayAviation.com

 

Mario was born and raised in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic before moving to the US in 2005. Mario's dream to become a pilot started before he was in Kindergarden and he began to pursue his career in aviation as soon as he moved to the US. Mario earned his Commercial and Instructor ratings in 2013. Mario's dynamic personality and passion for flying make him a great instructor.

Mario has the following ratings:
   • Commercial: Single/Multi Engine Land
   • Certified Flight Instructor: Fixed Wing CFI, CFII, MEI

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Durrant Pettey – Airplane Flight Instructor
Contact: Durant@TampaBayAviation.com

Durrant was born in Washington D.C. and moved to Utah with his family while he still young. Durrant's love for flying began as a child when he flew with his father to various work conferences. While living in Utah Durrant received his private pilot certificate from Leading Edge Aviation and graduated from the University of Utah. After graduation he spent the next several years as a buyer before moving to Florida to complete his ratings at ATP and Tampa Bay Aviation. Now he is a full time flight instructor with Tampa Bay Aviation focusing on private pilot training and DA 42 multi engine training.

Durrant has the following ratings:
   • Commercial: Single/Multi Engine Land
   • Certified Flight Instructor: Fixed Wing CFI, MEI

 

 

 

 

 

Mike Coston – Airplane Flight Instructor
Contact: MikeC@TampaBayAviation.com

More coming soon!

Mike has the following ratings:
   • Commercial: Single/Multi Engine Land
   • Certified Flight Instructor: Fixed Wing CFI, CFII, MEI

 

 

Photo Coming Soon

 

 

 

Eugene Croft – Airplane Flight Instructor
Contact: Eugene@TampaBayAviation.com

Gene Croft was born and raised in Silver Spring, Maryland and flew as a Navigator/Combat Systems Officer upon receiving his commission in the United States Air Force. He has served abroad multiple times in all recent major military operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other volatile regional areas around the globe. Gene has a Master of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering with an emphasis in flight testing and aerodynamics. He trained at Airline Transport Professionals (ATP) Flight School in Saint Petersburg, and enjoys spending his time off with his family boating, fishing and relaxing.

Gene has the following ratings:
   • Commercial: Single/Multi Engine Land
   • Certified Flight Instructor: Fixed Wing CFI, CFII, MEI

 

 

Photo Coming Soon

 

 

Brandon Sawyer - Assitant Chief Helicopter Instructor, Helicopter Charter Pilot, Helicopter Tour Pilot
Contact: Brandon@TampaBayAviation.com
 

Brandon Sawyer was born and raised in the Bahamas. He grew up with a childhood dream of flying helicopters. In 2012 he began the pursuit of that dream by moving to Florida to begin flight training. Brandon attended Bristow Academy in Titusville, Florida receiving his commercial pilot certificate, instrument rating and flight instructor certificate. After moving to the Tampa area in 2014 Brandon finished his instrument-flight instructor rating with Tampa Bay Aviation. He is currently Tampa Bay Aviation's assistant chief helicopter instructor. Brandon also began fixed wing flight training with Tampa Bay Aviation receiving his fixed wing private pilot add on in August, 2015.

Brandon has the following ratings:
   • Commercial: Helicopter
   • Certified Flight Instructor: Helicopter CFI, CFII

 

 

 

 

 

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

Roland’s interest in aviation goes back to a very young age and got started at the age of 18 when he began flying fixed-wing aircraft at Daniel Webster College in Nashua, NH. After more than two decades, which included careers of nearly the same amount of time in police work and insurance fraud investigations, he returned to flying, but this time in helicopters. Now he enjoys regular dual assignments, the first flying tours at TBA’s Albert Whitted Airport location entertaining tourists and locals alike with tours of St. Petersburg and the area beaches in the Robinson R44 Raven I. And, the second, performing news gathering tasks for iHeart Media Group, flying their ENG equipped Robinson 44 Astro helicopter.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Michelle Rottmund – Helicopter Flight Instructor, Helicopter Tour Pilot
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: Helicopter CFI, CFII

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Presley Rose - Helicopter Flight Instructor, Helicopter Tour Pilot
Contact: Presley@TampaBayAviation.com

Growing up with both her father and grandfather as private pilots, flying runs in the Rose family. Presley grew up in Fayetteville, West Virginia and moved to Titusville, Florida after high school to pursue her love for aviation. She attended Bristow Academy where she obtained her helicopter instrument, commercial and certified flight instructor ratings, becoming a Whirly Girl in 2014. Now Presley's goal is to help others achieve their dreams of flying, as she is grateful to have been able to achieve her dream and wishes to share the experience with others. "To most the sky is the limit. To a pilot, it is home."

Presley has the following ratings:
   • Commercial: Helicopter
   • Certified Flight Instructor: Helicopter

 

 

 

 

Part Time Instructors;

 

Josh Manter – Airplane Flight Instructor
Contact: Josh@TampaBayAviation.com

Josh Manter was born and raised in Manchester, NH. He was born into a family of pilots. His grandfather was a Navy test pilot, and his Dad has been an instructor for 30 years. His Dad taught him from Private all the way up to Multi Engine Instructor. He actually learned how to land a sea plane before a land plane. He received his Bachelors in Physical Education in 2008. He then went to USF where he received his Masters in Exercise Science in 2010. He earned his Flight Instructor license in 2010 as well. He spent 2 years at Liberty University in Virginia instructing for their aeronautics school. He is currently a Deputy for the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office and enjoys flight instructing on his days off..

Josh has the following ratings:
   • CFII, Land and Sea
   • MEI

 

 

 

 

Matt Knorr – Airplane & Helicopter Flight Instructor
Contact: Matt@TampaBayAviation.com

 

Matt has been a Certified Flight Instructor since 2007. Originally from Missouri, he earned his Bachelor of Science in Biology, Minor in Aviation Professional Piloting, and Master of Science in Aviation Safety. While attending college he earned his fixed wing ratings. After graduate school he enlisted in the military where he attended Warrant Officer School and began helicopter flight training in Fort Rucker, AL. He received training in the Bell 206B, OH-58A/C, and AH-64D and is an active member in the National Guard as an AH-64D helicopter pilot at Whiteman Air Force Base.

Matt has the following ratings:
   • Commercial: Single/Multi Engine Land
   • Commercial: Helicopter
   • Certified Flight Instructor: Fixed Wing CFI, CFII, MEI
   • Certified Flight Instructor: Helicopter CFI, CFII

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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