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Tarah Hughes

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Certified Flight Instructor

CFI, CFII

Tarah Hughes was born in Philadelphia Pennsylvania but was raised in Kingwood, Texas where she graduated from Kingwood High School in 2011. After high school Tarah spent time working for Emirates and Turkish Airlines, this is when she developed her love for aviation. Soon after, Tarah enlisted in the United States Army where she served in an aviation unit for 5 years. While working in flight operations and logistics Tarah began pursuing her private pilot’s license while still serving in Savannah Georgia. Tarah moved back home to Kingwood where she continued to get her instrument rating, commercial certificate, and become a Certified Flight Instructor.

 

Being a part of each of her students’ individual journeys to becoming pilots is what drew Tarah to flight instructing. Tarah’s goal is to one day become an airline pilot but is excited for the opportunity to share her knowledge of and passion for aviation with her students along the way.

 

When she’s not teaching or flying, Tarah enjoys spending time with her family, including her pets Yoda and Ash, traveling, working out, and training for races.

Carlee Mulhearn

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Certified Flight Instructor

CFI, CFII

One thing for Carlee that has always been clear is that she’s always wanted to be in the skies. Following the path of her grandfather flying gliders on Normandy Beach, her dad being a United Airlines Captain, her sister being a Certified Flight Instructor, the answer has always been there. When our family bought our first airplane “the beast” I sat in the back thinking, I could totally do this. And that’s where it all began.

 

Carlee was born and raised in Houston, growing up in the Kingwood area playing flute and on the flag line in KM4B at Kingwood High school. Following in her parent’s footsteps she attended The University of Louisiana at Monroe in Monroe, Louisiana. Graduating with a B.S in Aviation in 2020. She moved back to Houston to finish up her ratings.

 

Outside of flying Carlee loves to go to Houston Rockets basketball games, swimming, going to the beach, and hanging out with her friends and fiancé. As a third-generation pilot, Carlee looks forward to being her dad's copilot at United before he retires. Carlee is excited to get more girls in the aviation community and share her passion with them.

Hayden Ford

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Certified Flight Instructor

CFI, CFII

Born and raised in Houston, Hayden has always had an interest in learning to fly. His passion for aviation started at a young age when his dad took him up for his first flight at United Flight Systems. He remembers sitting in the back of that C172 looking out the window and thinking to himself, “There is no way I am meant to do anything else except this.” A third-generation pilot, he knew he wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps to eventually get one of the coolest jobs anyone could ever have.

 

Just like his dad, a Southwest Airlines Captain, Hayden’s dream is to one day fly for a major airline and see every part of the world from the sky. He attended the University of Houston and received a BA in psychology in 2021. During his time in school, he received his private pilot’s license in 2020 and soon after graduating worked as quickly as he could to obtain his CFI rating. After spending his entire aviation career here at UFS, he couldn’t think of a better place to teach other folks how to fly and help them pursue their passions.

 

Outside of flying, Hayden loves to spend time with his friends and family, watch the Houston Astros at every game, and lounge around the beach to relax.

Jared Cruz

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Certified Flight Instructor

CFI, CFII

Jared grew up in Phoenix Arizona where the sun shines the brightest before moving to Houston to continue his aviation connections and career.  He completed most of his training through a collegiate program where he finished his associate's degree.  Jared originally planned on pursuing an engineering degree at Grand Canyon University before he realized it was time to begin his aviation career.  He always looked at planes gliding through the Arizona skies and knew he would fly one day.

 

He looks up to people like the late Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers for his hard work and determined mindset.  This led him to fall in love with basketball where he would compete at a high level throughout elementary and high school, eventually playing for the Grand Canyon University club basketball team.  He encourages everyone to approach anything they do with the Mamba Mentality to reach their full potential!  He still likes to play sports in his off time as well as video games here and there.

 

Jared looks forward to progressing in his Aviation career and achieving his dream of becoming a Captain with a major airline.

Eagle Schacht

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Certified Flight Instructor

CFI, CFII

With a name like this, you might think you were born to fly your whole life, but Eagle grew up training horses, learning to be a firefighter, and planning to go into the Coast Guard. Being a pilot seemed like a fun thing other people got to do.

 

Fortunately, she also grew up in the mountains of north Idaho among some of the best and most experienced pilots in the world and soon had the opportunity to fly with them. They thought she might have a knack for it and encouraged her to consider aviation as a career. Skeptical at first, she eventually took them seriously and quickly became obsessed with the idea.

 

Six months later she was starting flight training in Houston. All day every day for 7 months she worked harder than she had at anything else her whole life, studied in her car at the end of the runway at IAH, and with the help of a few tough but encouraging instructors and examiners learned to fly and found she enjoyed it more with every single flight.

 

She is interested in every kind of flying from airlines to acrobatics and continues to learn everything she can. She completed CFI training at United Flight Systems and is looking forward to showing people who think being a pilot is only something to dream about that they really can do it in real life.

Franz Amann

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Certified Flight Instructor

CFI, CFII

Franz is a German Canadian, who has lived around the world in such places as Guatemala, Turkey, Germany, Canada, United Arab Emirates, and the United States.  Franz's passion for flying began when his dad purchased a joystick and a flight simulator at the age of 5.  One summer when he was 10 years old, his uncle asked him to join him on a recreational flight.  At that time, he could barely see over the dash.  His uncle gave “little” Franz the controls and let him loose.  With nothing, but him and the birds, he was hooked.

A few years later, he got his first job in aviation at United Flight Systems as a Ramper and shortly thereafter began his aviation training.  Franz has earned his Private Certificate, Instrument Rating, Commercial Certificate, Multiengine Rating, and Flight Instructor Certificates.  His passion for aviation is infectious and his background helps him convey difficult concepts using relatable topics. The passion for aviation is something that Franz would love to convey to all his future students and creating top-notch pilots with a deep understanding of aviation.

When not flying Franz likes to go Hiking, Cooking, and traveling with friends. 

Caglar "Charlie" Kockansoy

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Certified Flight Instructor

CFI, CFII

Caglar was born and raised in Turkey. He has a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from his home country. He had worked as a Field Service Engineer at different companies in Turkey for almost 10 years, and then in the U.S as well. He moved to Houston in 2016 with his wife.   

  
He always wanted to be in the air and see the world in a different way. He took his first discovery flight in October of 2017. He started flight training as a hobby right after. He flew part-time while he was working a full-time job as an engineer, shortly after was when he realized that he loves flying more than anything.  He started changing his career by completing all required training. After receiving all his certificates and ratings, he became a Certified Flight Instructor in March 2022.   

  

His goal is to be an airline pilot; however, he is focusing to help other students like him to make their aviation dreams come true.  

  

When he is not flying, he loves cooking, watching basketball games and spending time with family and friends.  

Hunter Daigle

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Certified Flight Instructor

CFI, CFII

Hunter was born and raised in the Houston area. Throughout his life, he has worked for his family’s third-generation construction company where he learned proper workmanship and commitment to hard work. In 2021, he graduated from Montgomery High School and with the support of his friends and family, dove into starting his aviation career. Hunter has loved the idea of flying since he was young, but after flying with some family friends, he decided that it's what he wanted to do for the rest of his life and became inspired to pursue aviation professionally. He is an enthusiastic and passionate pilot whose end goal is to become an airline captain.

 

In 2022, Hunter earned his Private, Instrument, Commercial, and Multi-Engine Commercial. Immediately following, he briefly lived in Dallas to complete Flight Instructor Academy at Addison Airport. It was here where his passion for teaching became solidified. He received his CFI and CFII Certifications at David Wayne Hooks. As a student, Hunter admired instructors that put the goals of their students before their own. Now as an instructor himself, wants to emulate these qualities to make sure his students receive the top training possible to become successful pilots.

 

When Hunter isn’t flying, he loves to ride motorcycles, travel to new places, watch the Houston Astros, and hunt anything with fur and feathers.

Ty Thomas

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Certified Flight Instructor

CFI, CFII, MEI

Ty was born in Houston, Texas, and raised in a small area to the northeast known as Tarkington Prairie.  He graduated high school early there and immediately went into the field he knew best - automotive. In his time with General Motors, he quickly became a certified master technician after having started as just a lube tech, and then transferred into the two-wheeled world of Harley Davidson where he became well acquainted with V-twin performance and dyno tuning. After some time and dissatisfaction in both occupations and while looking for a career change, he had a close friend recommend a discovery flight. Ty was hooked. They then attended flight school together where Ty earned his CFI, CFII, and MEI.

 

Ty had never thought about being a pilot despite living near a small non-towered airport growing up. Ty’s goals in aviation are uncertain, but he knows at the very least flying jets, and hopefully becoming a DPE are in his future at some point.

 

Outside of aviation Ty loves hunting and fishing, drag racing when he can, gaming, spending time with his family and friends, and the most important thing in the world to him, his daughter, Skylar.

Jerome Brown

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Certified Flight Instructor

CFI, CFII

Born and raised in Houston and growing up near Bush Intercontinental Airport Jerome’s fascination with aviation began at a young age while staring up at the sky.  It was during college when Jerome purchased his first computer and a copy of Microsoft Flight Simulator that really got him interested in turning an interest into a reality. After graduating from Texas A&M University with a Bachelor of Science majoring in Molecular and Cell Biology Jerome spent the next 10 years working in the lab as a scientist.  With some money in his pocket, he decided to take flight lessons at the nearby airport in College Station where he did his discovery flight with United Flight Systems in 2004.

 

After earning his private pilot certificate in 2005 and instrument rating in 2009 he enjoyed flying recreationally, making many trips with his wife and friends over the years. He had gotten involved in business development and sales since his laboratory days but felt a calling to do something he really enjoyed for a living. He decided to turn his aviation hobby into a professional career and earned his commercial certificate in 2021 and his flight instructor certificate in 2023 at United Flight Systems. 

 

Jerome is very excited to be a part of such a great flight school and looks forward to helping others achieve their aviation dreams. When he isn’t flying Jerome enjoys learning new things and spending time outdoors with long walks with his wife and dogs and riding his bike.

Robert Ion

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Certified Flight Instructor

CFI, CFII

Robert was born in Romania but was raised in Detroit, Michigan. At the age of 10, he attended an Airshow near Detroit where he watched the US Air Force Thunderbirds perform and was hooked ever since. He would go on to explore the Midwest with his uncle in an open fuselage, ultralight trike, further cementing his love for aviation.

After relocating to Houston, Robert attended the University of Houston-Downtown earning a BA in Supply Chain Management. He achieved a successful career over the years, but his true passion was always in aviation. After taking a discovery flight at Hooks airport in 2015, his mind was set on pursuing a Private Pilot certificate. He flew as a weekend warrior for many years before becoming heavily involved in the aviation community and making the decision to become a full-time flight instructor to share his love for aviation with his students.

When Robert is not flying, he enjoys the outdoors through hiking, camping, dirt biking, & snowboarding. He loves to travel and experience the diverse cultures and destinations this wonderful world has to offer.

Damian Fermin

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Certified Flight Instructor

CFI, CFII

Damian was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and moved to the Houston area in 2007. He has always had an interest in aviation since he was little, but never thought about flying until high school. He was always interested in building and designing cars and airplanes and thought he would always become an engineer. He started flying in March 2020 and earned his private pilot’s license at Ellington Field. After obtaining his private, Damian found his passion for flying and decided that flying was what he wanted to do for the rest of his life.

He completed the rest of his flight training at Lone Star College where he earned an associate degree in December 2022. Shortly after graduating, he enrolled at Texas A&M University-Central Texas where is currently pursuing his B.S. in Aviation Management. He is grateful for all his instructors who helped and supported him during his flight training and wants to do the same for his students.

Outside of flying, Damian likes to be active and goes hiking, camping, walking his two dogs, playing soccer, and spending time with his family. He is a big fan of the Houston Astros and the Houston Dynamo and attends their games regularly. Damian hopes to one day become a Captain at a major airline.

Craig Page

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Certified Flight Instructor

CFI, CFII

Craig was raised in Woodville, Texas. When he was ten years old, he attended an airshow where he took his first discovery flight. Craig was immediately hooked and knew he wanted to become a pilot.

When Craig turned 18 years old, he enlisted in the U.S. Army where he served as a Chinook helicopter mechanic. He later assessed for the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR) nicknamed the Night Stalkers. While he was in this organization, he was fortunate enough to become a Flight Engineer Instructor.

After leaving the military Craig earned his PPC in Savannah, Georgia in 2021. Craig then moved to Houston where he attended Liberty University through the Liberty / United Flight Systems FTA partnership. While studying at United Flight Systems and Liberty, Craig completed his B.S. in Aviation and his additional ratings. Craig plans to continue his education and earn a master’s degree in aviation education.

When he isn’t flying, you can find him on a disc golf course, reading anything aviation related, exploring Houston, or learning a new skill. Craig aspires to be an airline pilot and check airman one day. In the meantime, he plans to be the best instructor he can be and help his students achieve their goals.

Jason Lu

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Certified Flight Instructor

CFI, CFII

Jason was born and raised in Houston, Texas and grew up with a fascination with airplanes. His interest began when his mother purchased Microsoft’s Flight Simulator X for him in the early 2010’s. He spent most of his time in the simulator trying to figure out how to shoot an ILS approach in the 737. His father also frequently took him to the top of IAH’s Terminal C parking garage to watch jets takeoff and land while eating lunch.

Knowing that he wanted to shoot an ILS approach in a real 737 eventually, Jason decided to commit to aviation professionally. He took his first Discovery Flight at West Houston Airport in 2017, where he earned his Private, Instrument, and Commercial certificates and ratings. He earned his Flight Instructor certificate here at United Flight Systems while finishing up his B.S. in Computer Information Systems at the University of Houston.

Jason has a passion for teaching and wants to make his students safe and skilled pilots. Outside of instructing, he enjoys spending time with family and friends.

Mary Harris

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Certified Flight Instructor

CFI

Growing up in an aviation family, Mary heard about flying almost every day. Her and her father would listen to IAH Live ATC and she would imagine herself as the pilot on the approach landing a 737. After hearing years of stories, Mary wanted to give it a try and see what all the excitement was about. In May 2020, her dad bought a discovery flight here at United Flight Systems and she’s never looked back. She felt a passion for aviation immediately and started flight training.  


 

Mary was born and raised in the Houston area. Just like her brother, she completed all her flight training here at United Flight Systems. Most days out of the week she spent more time at UFS then at home. She completely fell in love with airplanes and the excitement of flying.  


 

Outside of flying she loves spending time with family and friends, playing and watching basketball, and working out. As one of many pilots in her family, Mary looks forward to training and flying with her brother at United Airlines. Mary is excited for the opportunity to share her knowledge and passion for flying with her students, as they embark on their aviation journey. 

Nicholas Koutras

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Certified Flight Instructor

CFI, CFII

Nicholas grew up for most of his life in San Antonio, TX, but spent time in Florida, Virginia, and Italy along the way. He aspired to be a pilot for most of his childhood, starting from his first memory of riding as a passenger on an airliner at 4 years old. He spent a lot of free time learning about aviation while growing up and his favorite area of town became the part of Highway 281 that ran right behind the threshold of 13R at KSAT. 

However, Nicholas lost sight of his dream at the end of high school and decided to pursue a B.S. in Economics at Texas A&M. After graduating in 2021, he started a full-time job in corporate banking in downtown Houston. After many late nights in PowerPoint and Excel, Nicholas decided to look inward and figure out what he really wanted to do for the long haul. While in New York for a work trip, he took a discovery flight which consisted of a flight up the Hudson River VFR corridor which immediately reignited the dream. 

One month later, he resigned from his job and began flight training at UFS full-time, where he studied and flew almost every day that weather allowed. Nicholas had many great instructors throughout his journey and he hopes to emulate their best qualities. When he is not flying, Nicholas enjoys fitness, cooking, Aggie Sports, and hanging out with friends and family.  

DAVID WRIGHT

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CHIEF INSTRUCTOR

David grew up in Houston.  He began his passion for flying as a child, often riding his bicycle to Andrau Airpark (unfortunately, Andrau is now a golf course) to watch airplanes.  After earning his Private Pilot Certificate at 17 years old, Embry Riddle Aeronautical University (Prescott, AZ) granted David a B.S. in Aeronautical Studies/Computer Science.

David has been related to United Flight Systems since 1990.  He is the school’s Chief Flight instructor, serving that position since 1996 (with some breaks).  He was in corporate aviation as a director of flight operations for a Part 91 Flight Department for 26 years.

When he is not teaching, he out flying for Southwest Airlines as a First Officer.  He is type rated in Cessna 500 Citation, Cessna 510 Mustang, Cessna 525, Cessna 560XLS, and Boeing 737.

His wife, Yolanda, and children, Diego and Maya keep him occupied when he is not out turning Avgas or Jet-A into noise.

Jeffrey Gill

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ASSISTANT CHIEF INSTRUCTOR

CFI / CFII / MEI / ATP

Jeff holds an ATP, CFI/II/MEI and first earned his Flight Instructor Certificate in 1995. Since then he has instructed in everything from experimental ultralights to twin-engine turbo props, and has helped numerous pilots go from first flight to Airline Pilot. He is fully bilingual (English/Spanish), and even flew for a while in Spain after obtaining his Spanish Private Pilot License.

Having competed in multiple aerobatic competitions up and down the west coast, he enjoys using his real-world experience to help his students learn the practical application of what they’re studying. Aside from instructing, Jeff was the pilot for the team doctor of the Oakland Raiders, flew a King Air 350i for Wheels Up and a British Aerospace Jetstream under Part 121. He spent the Pandemic Year flying a King Air throughout SouthEast Asia after ferrying the airplane from Arizona to Laos with stops in Alaska, Russia, Japan, Macau, and Korea! Jeff holds a BS in Aviation Operations and Management from Golden Gate University in San Francisco, and MBA from Texas A&M – Commerce, and currently flies a Gulfstream G-IV SP as well as a King Air 350i for a medical corporation.

 

He enjoys traveling and spending time with his wife Claudia and three beautiful daughters when not flying.

GIO HANDAL

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ASSISTANT CHIEF INSTRUCTOR

CFI / CFII / MEI

Giovanni (or Gio for short) was born and raised in Houston, Texas. He caught the aviation bug at the age of 7 when a Southwest Airlines captain let him explore the cockpit of a Boeing 737 during a layover. It was there that he decided he wanted a career in Aviation. Using money he saved from working at a local grocery store, he took a discovery flight at the age of 16 at United Flight Systems where he eventually earned his CFI and CFII. Giovanni then moved to College Station, Texas and attended Texas A&M University where he majored in Economics. After spending multiple years instructing in between classes at the Texas A&M flying club, he gained an interest in air traffic control and was eventually hired by the Federal Aviation Administration as an Enroute Air Traffic Controller. After graduating from the FAA academy in Oklahoma City, he was placed at Houston Center giving him the opportunity to come back to United Flight Systems and instruct where he first learned to fly. When Giovanni is not instructing or issuing vectors, he spends his time running, hanging out with his yellow lab Duke, cooking, or binging a new show on Netflix. 

Kevin Foster

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Assistant Chief Instructor

CFI, CFII & MEI

Kevin grew up just outside of Chicago and as a 3rd generation pilot, his love of aviation was inevitable.  The summer after completing high school, Kevin started his flight training with his brother as his instructor and he received his Private Pilot Certificate.  

 

Kevin attended the University of Illinois and obtained a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Civil Engineering.  Upon graduation, he began a 10-year career in Project Management with ExxonMobil.  He and his family were fortunate to spend much of that time overseas, and while he loved to travel, every time he got on a plane, Kevin knew he wanted to be the Pilot, not the passenger.  Ultimately, he pulled the trigger on a career change and enrolled in a professional pilot program where he obtained his Instrument, Commercial, Multi-Engine, CFI, CFII and MEI.

Kevin is excited to be instructing at United Flight Systems – He vividly remembers the excitement of his first training flight 15+ years ago and he’s excited to share in those moments with new students on their journey to becoming a pilot.  Kevin is currently a First Officer for Sky West and continues to mentor our instructors and students.

 

Kevin and his wife Vanessa have two children – James and Emily.  When Kevin is not flying, he enjoys sports, traveling, camping, and spending time with friends and family. 

Brandon White

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Assistant Chief Instructor

CFI, CFII

Brandon’s passion for aviation began at a young age and was driven by his dad, a retired Air Force pilot, who now is working for the airlines. While attending Texas A&M University he served the community as a paramedic and also began his venture into aviation during his final year. If you have ever heard an Aggie joke, then you know it usually insults their intelligence. The punchline to Brandon’s story is that he did graduate from Texas A&M but spent four years studying for the wrong career path. Luckily, once he discovered how much he enjoyed flying - his future “took off.”

Brandon started flying with United Flight Systems in 2019 to begin working on his instrument rating and has worked with the team and flown the UFS fleet ever since.  While Brandon has taken on the task to change careers, he looks forward to helping the next round of aviators doing their training to have fun or become professional pilots!

In his free time, Brandon enjoys golfing, fishing, watching college football, and spending time with his wife and two dogs.

Zac Borden

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Assistant Chief Instructor

CFI, CFII, MEI

Zac grew up in Indiana but has also lived in Massachusetts, California, and even Australia for a couple of years. He moved to Houston in 2013 to start a career as a mechanical engineer in oil and gas. Zac began started training as a student with United Flight Systems in 2020 just for fun, something he’d always wanted to try, but soon realized that flying was something he wanted to do for the long haul. He left his 10-year career to finish up his ratings and become a full-time flight instructor.

 

Zac has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Olin College of Engineering, and a doctorate from the University of California, Santa Barbara. He has a passion for teaching that began in graduate school and is excited to help you realize your aviation goals, whatever they are.

 

When not instructing, Zac enjoys rock climbing (both inside and outside), cooking, and spending time with friends.

TODD SHACKOULS

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ASSISTANT CHIEF INSTRUCTOR

CFI / CFII / MEI / ATP

Todd was born and raised in Kingwood, Texas.  His passion for aviation started at the age of five after learning about airplanes from his uncle, an Air Force pilot. He began the pursuit of his aviation dreams while attending Kingwood High School, as a member of the Civil Air Patrol and as an Aviation Explorer Scout with Boy Scouts of America.

 

Todd earned his instrument multi-engine pilot certificates while in high school. Todd’s formal education and flight instructor credentials were earned cum laude at the University of North Dakota. Upon completion of his degree, he joined United Flight Systems in June 1998 and has been a UFS advocate ever since.

 

When not instructing, Todd is a Captain on the A-320 for United Airlines.  While at United, Todd has served as a subject-matter-expert on multiple projects and has flown every airplane in United’s fleet.  He is type-rated in the Boeing 737, 747-4, 757, 767, 777, 787, Airbus 320, A-330, A-340, and G-550 plus multiple others. Todd also served as a Captain and Line Check Airman During his time at Continental Express airlines.

 

Todd has two beautiful little girls, Ashleigh and Charlotte, who occupy his time on the ground.  His lovely and doting better half, Ellen, runs the household when he is off flying.

GARY WAYNE

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SENIOR OPERATIONS MANAGER

Gary drank the “Aviation Kool-Aid” in the late 1960’s and became “addicted” to flying.  He obtained his CFI-A, CFI-I, CFI-ME in Atlanta and Houston during the 1970’s to pursue a career as a professional pilot.  After several positions with corporate flight departments, he took a hiatus from aviation in the 80’s, 90’s and early 2000’s to pursue a career in information technology.

Gary returned to his aviation career in 2007 and became an instructor with United Flight Systems for several months before taking a position as an air charter pilot with a local Houston firm.  He rejoined UFS in 2014 as operations manager.  In his spare time, he enjoys reading, woodworking, and photography. He and his wife, Patricia, have been married for 48 years and have two children and three grandchildren.

BOBBY DOSS

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PRESIDENT & OWNER

Bobby has always been interested in aviation, but for one reason or another didn't take a lesson until he was in his 40's.  Bobby took his first lesson on May 3, 2015, at United Flight Systems and has been learning ever since!  Growing up in the area he has always seen planes flying overhead.  

While pursuing his commercial license he considered buying a plane to lease back to United Flight Systems.  That conversation about a leaseback turned into a full acquisition with his partner and fellow UFS student, Matt Shaunty in May 2018.  Bobby acquired Matt's portion of the business in September 2020.

Bobby has thoroughly enjoyed learning the business and working long hours in the evenings and weekends to start making improvements to the school and the fleet.  When Bobby isn't at the flight school he can often be found on the golf course watching his son or playing with his son or friends. Bobby has been married to his wife Tammie for 27 years and they have two children Emily (22) who graduated from the University of Texas and Blake (18) who is attending Concordia University in Austin, Texas playing on their golf team.

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