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About Our Team

Tampa Bay Aviation

Laura Taylor

Founder, Airplane Pilot, C-SIP

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:
‚ÄĘ Commercial: Single/Multi Engine Land & Sea
‚ÄĘ Airline Transport Pilot: Fixed Wing
‚ÄĘ Certified Flight Instructor: Fixed Wing CFI, CFII, MEI

Zack Taylor

Founder, Chief Helicopter Pilot, Helicopter Charter Pilot

Zack currently oversees Tampa Bay Aviation’s part 61 and part 141 helicopter flight school as chief helicopter instructor. His previous experience includes flying Eurocopters for AirLife in Florida and Georgia as well as Bell Helicopters in the Gulf of Mexico to 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.

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

Chief and Assistant Chief Pilots

jason paul

Chief Fixed-Wing Pilot

Bio coming soon.

Dennis Berghuijs

Assistant Chief Helicopter Instructor, Helicopter Tour Pilot, Helicopter and Fixed-Wing Charter Pilot

Dennis Berghuijs, originally from The Netherlands, moved to Florida in 2013 to pursue a career in the aviation industry. After successfully completing the FAA and EASA pilot programs, he became an active Certified Flight Instructor in 2014 and joined Tampa Bay Aviation in 2016. In addition to instruction, Dennis does Tour, Photography and Charter flights.

Dennis has the following ratings:

  • Commercial: Helicopter
  • Airline Transport Pilot: Helicopter
  • Certified Flight Instructor: Helicopter CFI, CFII
  • Ground Instructor: Advanced
  • Commercial: Airplane Single Engine Land
  • Certified Flight Instructor: Fixed Wing CFI, CFII
  • Cirrus:¬† TCI

Airplane Instructors

Brandon Goff

 Airplane Flight Instructor

Brandon is from Melbourne Florida and has dreamed of a flying career his entire life.¬† After playing four years of baseball at Southeastern University, he graduated with a Bachelor’s in Marketing and at 22 decided to take the plunge into the world of aviation.¬† Flying is his passion and it shows.

Brandon has the following ratings:

  • Commercial: Airplane Single Engine Land, Multi Engine Land
  • Certified Flight Instructor: Airplane CFI, CFII, MEI
  • Ground Instructor: Advanced, Instrument
 

Zach Williams

Airplane Flight Instructor

Zach was born and raised in Florida. He took his first introduction flight with Tampa Bay Aviation at the age of 12 years old and fell in love with flying. Zach continued working on his ratings from Private to CFI and upon completion of the CFI Training Program he was offered a job teaching with Tampa Bay Aviation. Zach is currently working toward finishing his Bachelor’s in Business Administration with St. Petersburg College.

Zach enjoys sharing the art of flying with students and takes pride in helping others achieve their aviation goals as he pushes onward to his dream of flying for the airlines.

Zach has the following ratings:

  • Commercial: Airplane Single Engine Land, Multi Engine Land
  • Certified Flight Instructor: Airplane CFI, CFII

Prescott Wilson

Airplane Flight Instructor

Prescott was born and raised in Pensacola, Florida where he grew up playing sports and enjoying the beautiful beaches of the gulf coast. Prescott’s mother and sister work as Flight Attendants for American Airlines so he has always dreamed of being a pilot. While attending the University of West Florida, he began taking steps to make that happen. He was able to receive his private pilot’s license in Foley, Alabama. He then continued his training in Dallas, Texas where he earned his commercial single/multi-engine license and his instructor/instrument instructor certification. Since then, he has returned to his home state to instruct and help others achieve that same dream. 

Prescott has the following ratings:

  • Commercial: Airplane Single Engine Land, Multi-Engine Land
  • Certified Flight Instructor: Airplane CFI, CFII, MEI

Ryan Polder

Airplane Flight Instructor

A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Ryan became interested in aviation as a toddler after watching the U.S Navy Blue Angels perform at an airshow. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, he had a successful career as an electronic controls engineer. Ryan has been flying since 2012, and moved to Florida in order to pursue his dreams as a pilot while taking advantage of the year-round flying weather. He was offered a position as an instructor after graduating Tampa Bay Aviation’s CFI Training Program. Ryan became a flight instructor to share his passion and knowledge of aviation with others, and enjoys helping build students’ skills as they achieve their own goals. His long term career aspirations include charter operations, advanced flight instruction and flight test engineering.

Ryan has the following ratings:

  • Commercial: Airplane Single Engine Land
  • Certified Flight Instructor: Airplane CFI, CFII

Isaiah Karsen

Airplane Flight Instructor

Isaiah was born and raised in Michigan. He attended North Western Michigan college where he earned his pilot ratings up to commercial license. During his commercial check ride process he had come down to Florida to fly (better weather) and finished his commercial, CFI, CFII, and MEI ratings. Isaiah was hired directly from our CFI class when a spot opened up. His goal is to earn his hours and work for a regional airline or a cargo company.

Isaiah has the following ratings:

  • Commercial: Airplane Single Engine Land, Multi Engine Land
  • Certified Flight Instructor: Airplane CFI, CFII, MEI

emily leist

Airplane Flight Instructor

Emily is a 3rd generation pilot and her enthusiasm for aviation shows from the moment you meet her. After taking an introductory flight with Tampa Bay Aviation last year, she knew she had chosen the right career path and community of instructors to guide her. She’s completed her private certificate and CFI program all while earning her associate’s degree at St. Petersburg College. To continue toward her dream of flying cargo she is working toward her degree in Aviation Business Administration at Embry Riddle’s online program. She is excited to help students become the best pilots they can be!

Emily has the following ratings:

  • Commercial: Airplane Single Engine Land
  • Certified Flight Instructor: Airplane CFI, CFII

max walker

Airplane Flight Instructor

Max was born and raised in Tampa, Florida. He grew up playing sports and enjoying other outdoor activities until he found his true passion for aviation. Max knew he wanted to be a pilot after his first introduction flight with us in 2017. From there, he has achieved his Private and Commercial Multi-Engine ratings with Tampa Bay Aviation. Max is currently working on his Bachelors in Personal Finance at the University of South Florida. 

He enjoys his office in the sky and helping students accomplish their aviation goals. Max’s long term goal is to become an airline pilot and travel the world. 

Max has the following ratings:

  • Commercial: Airplane Single Engine Land, Multi-Engine Land
  • Certified Flight Instructor: Airplane CFI, CFII

wes davis

Airplane Flight Instructor

Wesley Davis is a Florida native, born in Dunedin, Florida. He graduated from the University of South Florida with a Bachelor’s Degree in Biomedical Sciences. After graduating college, he took the MCAT to pursue a career in medicine¬†while simultaneously receiving flying lessons to diversify his background. After obtaining his private pilot license at Tampa Bay Aviation, he quickly realized flying was his true calling and pursued further pilot and instructor certificates instead of medicine. He enjoys seeing his student’s develop into confident and skillful pilots ready to navigate the skies!¬†

Wesley has the following ratings:

  • Commercial: Airplane Single Engine Land, Airplane Multi-Engine Land
  • Certified Flight Instructor: Airplane CFI, CFII, MEI

tyler smith

Airplane Flight Instructor

Tyler Smith is a Florida native, born and raised in Brandon, FL. He has been flying since 2013. He graduated from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach with a Bachelor’s¬†Degree in Aeronautics. During his time at Embry-Riddle, he pursued¬†his pilot¬†ratings while attending classes. After graduating college, he pursued¬†a career in surveying and mapping with drones while attending the CFI course at Tampa Bay Aviation. His true passion is teaching aviation. He went on to complete the CFI course at Tampa Bay Aviation and was offered an instructor position after completing the CFI program.
 
Aviation is his passion. He enjoys helping people accomplish their goals in aviation.
His goal is to eventually teach Aerobatic and Tailwheel flight training with future goals of going to the Airlines or Unmanned aviation operations.
 
 
Tyler has the following ratings:
  • Commercial: Airplane Single Engine Land, Airplane Multi-Engine Land
  • Certified Flight Instructor: Airplane CFI

juan leon

Airplane Flight Instructor

Juan Leon is an experienced Airline Transport Pilot and Flight Instructor for single and multi-engine airplanes and instrument ratings.  He has flown for a Part 135 air carrier but his primary experience is in corporate aviation., He was a factory demo pilot and instructor at Beechcraft. He was a corporate pilot in Kings Airs and Falcons and was also an instructor and Designated Pilot Examiner at CAE on Falcon models.

Juan has the following ratings:

  • Commercial: Airplane Single Engine Land, Airplane Multi-Engine Land, Airplane Single Engine Sea
  • Certified Flight Instructor: Airplane CFI, CFII, MEI
  • Airline Transport Pilot: Airplane
  • Cirrus certified Training Center Instructor (TCI)
Mike Longnecker

Tony Johnstone

Aerobatic Airplane Flight Instructor

Tony Johnstone, MD, has been flying since high school in 1967.  He has been instructing aerobatics and tailwheel since 2003 and has given over 2000 hours of dual in his Super Decathlon.  Tony also holds a CFII, MEI, ATP with 2 type ratings in jets, Commercial Seaplane and Glider ratings, and has been in the past designated Master CFI-Aerobatic.  He is a FAASTEAM rep with the Tampa FSDO and a retired general surgeon who practiced in Canada and then Kansas for a total of 30 years.  Tony worked as a demo/transportation pilot for Cessna in Wichita following his retirement from surgery.

Tony has the following ratings:

  • ATP: Airplane Multi-Engine Land
  • Type Rating:¬† C525, C560XLS
  • Commercial: Airplane Single Engine Land, Multi-Engine Land, Single Engine Seaplane, Glider
  • Certified Flight Instructor: Airplane CFI, CFII, MEI
  • Ground Instructor: Advanced
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Ryan Rokicki

Airplane Flight Instructor

Ryan was born and raised in Grosse Pointe, Michigan. He knew he wanted to be a pilot ever since his intro flight in 2017. He attended NorthWestern Michigan College to pursue his flying career and received an associate’s degree. He also received his CFI certificate right here at Tampa Bay Aviation. Ryan has played ice hockey since the age of 10 and still continues to play in his free time. He is excited to instruct here at Tampa Bay Aviation and help other students achieve their goals.

Ryan has the following ratings:

  • Commercial: Airplane Single Engine Land, Airplane Multi-Engine Land
  • Certified Flight Instructor: Airplane CFI, CFII
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Ben Phillips

Airplane Flight Instructor

Born in Cincinnati Ohio, Ben’s first flight was at 6 months old with his father flying a helicopter. Ben started training in Ohio and quickly moved to Tampa Bay Aviation to escape the weather. He finished his private license and continued thru his certified flight instructor instrument rating here. Ben is excited to help others on their path. His long-term goals include a job in the airline industry.

Ben has the following ratings:

  • Commercial: Airplane Single Engine Land, Multi Engine Land
  • Certified Flight Instructor: Airplane CFI,CFII
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Ryan Christensen

Airplane Flight Instructor

Ryan was born and raised right here in Clearwater, FL. It was in 2015 when Ryan found his love for flying after his first discovery flight at Tampa Bay Aviation. It was this passion that led him to enroll at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University to eventually graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree in Aeronautics. After graduation, Ryan returned home to complete his CFI with Tampa Bay Aviation and continues to share his passion for flying with his current students. When Ryan isn’t flying, he’s either out on the boat or supporting his local sports teams, such as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Tampa bay Lightning and Florida State Seminoles!

Ryan has the following ratings:

  • Commercial Airplane Single Engine Land
  • Certified Flight Instructor Airplane CFI, CFII
Alec Eline

Alec Eline

Airplane Flight Instructor

Born in Louisville, KY, Alec is a 6 year army infantry veteran who graduated from Liberty University in 2019. Alec did his private in Louisville, KY, multi-private, instrument, multi commercial in Benton, KS, single engine commercial in Lynchburg, VA, and CFI in Tulsa, OK. Alec has his high performance, complex and TAA endorsements. He has been an instructor for two years. Alec and his wife recently moved to Clearwater from KY in June and he is looking forward to continuing flight instruction in Florida.

Alec has the following ratings:

  • Commercial: Airplane Single Engine Land, Multi Engine Land
  • Certified Flight Instructor (CFI)
Alex Kosten

Alex Kosten

Airplane Flight Instructor

Alex was born in Orlando FL, and most recently residing in Naples, FL., Alex is a second-generation pilot with an immense love for aviation. While studying Aeronautical Science at Middle Tennessee State University, Alex worked to get his private pilot license and build hours. Since graduating in 2020 he has since received his Commercial Pilot, Multi Engine add-on, and CFI ratings.

Alex plans to follow in the footsteps of his father and uncle and work for the airlines. He wants to share his passion and knowledge of aviation with his students and help them to succeed.

Alex has the following ratings:

  • Commercial: Airplane Single Engine Land, Multi Engine Land
  • Certified Flight Instructor: Airplane CFI
  • Part 107 Remote Pilot
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Christina Kennedy

Airplane Flight Instructor

Christina is originally from Tampa, Florida and has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Hospitality Management from University of Central Florida. After completing her degree, she toured the United States courtesy of Frontier Airlines as a flight attendant. While working for Frontier, she discovered her love of flying and decided to return to school to become a pilot. Kennedy recently received her Bachelor’s Degree at Polk State College and finished her flight training through Sunrise Aviation.

Christina has the following ratings:

  • Commercial: Airplane Single Engine Land, Airplane Multi-Engine Land
  • Certified Flight Instructor: Airplane CFI

Helicopter Instructors

Josh Montour

Helicopter Instructor, Helicopter Tour Pilot

Josh was born in Vermont and then went on to attend Southern Utah University. Josh trained in Cedar City, UT where he worked through all of his helicopter ratings. He would like to work as an EMS pilot and then work his way up to fire/utility flying!

Josh Montour has the following ratings:

  • Commercial:¬†Helicopter
  • Flight Instructor: Helicopter CFI, CFII

Carlo Biagini

Helicopter Flight Instructor 

 

Carlo is from Santa Rosa, California and began instructing in airplanes in 1991. After 12 years of fixed wing instruction, he decided it was time for a change and began a new challenge instructing in helicopters. He considers himself fortunate to have joined the exceptional team at Tampa Bay Aviation in 2018. Carlo would eventually like to pursue a career in fire fighting, EMS, or Search and Rescue

Carlo Biagini has the following ratings:

  • Airline Transport Pilot: Helicopter, Airplane Multi Engine Land
  • Commercial:¬†Helicopter, Airplane Single Engine Land
  • Flight Instructor: Helicopter CFI, CFII; Airplane CFI, CFII, MEI
  • Ground Instructor: Advanced, Instrument
Grace Summers Helicopter Instructor

Grace Summers

 Helicopter Flight Instructor 

 Grace was born and raised in Cordova, TN. She played 4 years of tennis at Eastern Illinois University and graduated with a B.S. in Exercise Science. Originally the goal was always to be a tennis coach, but after coaching multiple summer camps, Grace found out that coaching tennis wasn’t her true passion and that she wanted to do something more exciting. Although at that time she had never been in a helicopter, she just knew that being a helicopter pilot was the job for her! She started off flying airplanes in 2017 and then moved down to FL in 2019 to start her helicopter training with TBA. Down the road, she would love to fly for Border Patrol and potentially Medevac after that.

 Grace Summers has the following ratings:

  • Certified Flight Instructor: Helicopter
  • Ground Instructor: Advanced
  • Commercial: Helicopter
  • Instrument Rating: Helicopter; ASEL
  • Private: ASEL
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jena kendall

 Helicopter Tour Pilot

Jena was born and raised in Three Lakes, WI. Her fascination with helicopters began at 5 years old, when the pilot demonstrated an autorotation on her first helicopter ride.

Jena graduated from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with a double major in Finance and Marketing. While attending college, Jena completed her private pilot training. After working in business for a few years, she has made her transition into aviation.

Jena Kendall has the following ratings:

  • Commercial: Helicopter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Nicholas Simms

Helicopter Flight Instructor

Nick was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland. At age 19, he joined the United States Marine Corps where he served five years on active duty. Following the military, he began pursuing his passion in aviation by earning his Flight Instructor Certificate. Nick has an Associate’s degree in Aviation Management and continued his education for a Bachelor’s degree in Aeronautics through Embry Riddle Aeronautical University. Nick moved to Florida in 2018 with his family to enjoy the warm weather, outdoors and wonderful beaches. Nick’s long-term career goal is to serve the community as a law enforcement pilot.

Nick has the following ratings:

Commercial: Helicopter

Certified Flight Instructor: Helicopter CFI
Private: Airplane Single Engine Land

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Chris Boecker

Christopher, aka. ‚ÄúTito‚ÄĚ, was born and raised in Colombia. In 2012 he moved to Germany to study Aeronautical Engineering at the university of Bremen, where he also worked in the faculty of aerodynamics. In 2020 he moved to the US to do his CFI. He holds both EASA and FAA commercial licenses and the FAA flight instructor certificate. Tito is happy to talk to you in English, German, Spanish or French.

Tito holds the following ratings:

  • Commercial: Helicopter
  • Certified Flight Instructor: Helicopter CFI

Staff

Katie Gannon Flight School Manager

Katie Gannon

Third-Party Benefits Coordinator

Katie was born and raised here in Florida and because her father is an airline pilot she has been around aviation her entire life. She attended USF St. Pete. She has obtained her Private through Commercial ratings and is working toward her CFI!

Interested? Contact Us.

If you are interested in learning to fly contact us and we will get back to you right away.

Contact

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