top of page

Mail Call !

Albert Obi, of Ormond Beach, has earned accreditation as a NAFI Master Flight Instructor as recently announced by the National Association of Flight Instructors. Mr. Obi, a native of Nigeria is also a flight standards and check pilot for Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. He began his flying career at age 19 with the Nigerian Air Force as a young pilot that managed to graduate at the top of his class. He was further trained by the United States Air Force as a fighter pilot before continuing his career as an air force pilot in Nigeria.

Mr. Obi holds an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering, a post graduate degree in aerospace engineering, and a master’s degree in unmanned autonomous systems engineering. He also holds a Master of Business Administration from American Military University. He is responsible for conducting training for college students enrolled in the FA495B college course on Advanced Air Transport Operations at ERAU in Daytona, Florida. While serving in the Nigerian Air Force, he flew the L-39ZA trainer jet, and Alpha-jet. He was also responsible for carrying out military operations orders in support of National defense and security imperatives. He was also tasked with proposing strategies and solutions for smooth and efficient running of all Air Force Operations. Adding diversity to his resume as a distinguished Nigerian Air Force officer, he also participated in operations of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for military operations.

The NAFI Master Flight Instructor Accreditation is earned by aviation educators based upon a system of advanced professional standards and peer review. The accreditation identifies and publicly recognizes those teachers of flight who demonstrate an ongoing commitment to excellence, professional growth, and service to the aviation community.

The NAFI Master Instructor accreditation is for two years and may be used to renew an FAA flight instructor certificate. Applicants must have been a CFI for two years and have given 1,000 hours of flight instruction. In addition, candidates must meet and document activity in four NAFI Master Instructor categories; Instructor, Educator, Service to the Aviation Community, and Professional Activity.

Members of the National Association of Flight Instructors work as independent instructors, at flight schools, universities, FBOs, corporate flight departments and in the military. Since 1967, NAFI and its members, who teach in 30 countries, are dedicated to increasing and maintaining the professionalism of flight instruction. NAFI members influence active pilots daily: students working to become pilots, current pilots training to advance their skills with new ratings or certificates and pilots who seek to improve their skills with recurrent training. NAFI also serves as an advocate with industry and government as a voice for flight instruction. NAFI helps shape the current and future direction of flight training.

Recently, Navy Lt William Johnson III reached the milestone of 1,000 hours in the F-18 Hornet. For every 1,000 hours attained in an F/A-18, Boeing recognizes the pilots with a certificate and a flight suit patch to signify their respective accomplishment. The hours speak an unspoken language. Its not so much the hours that tell the ultimate story, but the ability to transition with the many developments and upgrades that an aircraft undergoes. Also the fact that an aviator can accumulate such a number of hours while void of accidents and mishaps speaks volumes also. It is also a testament to the aviator's ever increasing skill, not just as an aviator but mastery of a particular aircraft. It also speaks to the aviator's loyalty and dedication to the advancement of military aviation, particularly combat readiness and air superiority.

With the ever increasing threat in the Pacific, the US Navy and Marines must maintain a constant state of readiness and the capability of deployed forces. Whenever the Navy deploys a carrier battle group, the joint commander expects the air wing to operate at its maximum capability. In the battle group, the F-18 Super Hornet is now the key strike element and also a critical part of any air defense operation. The F/A-18 has the capability to employ all strike and air-to-air weapons in the Navy’s inventory.

The Block III Super Hornet is the newest, most advanced aircraft in the F/A-18 family. One of the key Block III upgrades includes a 40 percent increase in service life. This is essential because the high-operational tempo of the last 10-15 years of the Global War On Terrorism have strained the service life of most air wing aircraft. Due to high tempo of deployment due to being at war for the past two decades, Super Hornets are reaching the end of their service lives much faster than anticipated, which is why structural modifications to new aircraft to allow them to fly longer is critical. The ferocity of the F-18 and the efforts and accomplishments of the pilots who fly them such as Lt. Johnson III are greatly appreciated as the envelope is continuously being pushed to ensure US air superiority.

On July 30th, The United States Naval Test Pilot School (USNTPS) held a graduation ceremony for the 31 students of Class 159. USNTPS trains pilots and engineers for development, test, and evaluation of aircraft. USNTPS is a component of Naval Test Wing Atlantic test wing under Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division in Patuxent River, Maryland. Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) advances capability and operational readiness for naval aviation.

U.S. Navy Navy Lt. Kyle Todd received the Outstanding Developmental Phase II Award, awarded to the student who produced the best final report. The award is symbolic of the longstanding and mutually supportive relationship between the Empire Test Pilots’ School in the United Kingdom and USNTPS. Navy Lt. Gordon Finlay received the Commander Willie McCool Outstanding Student Award. This award honors the top performing student in the categories of academics, flight performance, and technical report writing. The namesake award commemorates the legacy of U.S. Navy Commander William C. McCool, a USNTPS alumnus tragically lost in the Columbia space shuttle accident. Marine Corps Major Alex Horne received the Capt. Syd Sherby Leadership Award. This award, which is named after the founder of the test pilot training division, now USNTPS, recognizes the student who displays exemplary leadership. Distinguished graduates in the class were Maj. Alex Horn (fixed wing), Lt. McMillan Hastings (rotary wing), and Maj. Matthew Hamtak (airborne and unmanned systems).

Retired Maj. Gen. Charles Bolden, who is also an alumnus of USNTPS, a former Astronaut and NASA administrator delivered the keynote address. Maj. Gen. Bolden told the graduates, “Follow your passion, and know why doing what you do is important, I know why it’s important; we protect and defend the constitution.” In 1978, he was assigned to the Naval Test Pilot School at Patuxent River, Md., and completed his training in 1979. While working at the Naval Air Test Center's Systems Engineering and Strike Aircraft Test Directorates, he tested a variety of ground attack aircraft until his selection as an astronaut candidate in 1980. He is a 1968 graduate of the US Naval Academy. After completing flight training in 1970, he became a Naval Aviator. Bolden flew more than 100 combat missions in North and South Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, while stationed in Namphong, Thailand between 1972 - 1973.

Twenty students completed the requirements for the engineering test pilot course. The new test pilots are: Capt. James N. Bashford- U.S. Army, Capt. Matthew C. Blessing-U.S. Air Force, Capt. Klas F. Boudrie-Swedish Air Force, Lt. Dominic J. Busto- U.S. Navy,

Lt. Nicholas J. Corey- U.S. Navy, Maj. Tyler W. Davenport- U.S. Marine Corps,

Capt. Adam J. Fulling-U.S. Army, Chief Warrant Officer 3rd Class Caleb N. Grandy- U.S. Army, Lt. McMillan J. Hastings- U.S. Navy, Maj. Alex C. Horne- U.S. Marine Corps,

Lt. Cmdr. Fabio Laporta- Italian Navy, Lt. Alexandra R. Mensing- U.S. Navy,

Capt. Minator Michele-Italian Air Force, Lt. Ryan R. Moeller-U.S. Navy,

Capt. Alejandro Molero Salvatierra-Spanish Air Force, Lt. Nicholas A. Padleckas- U.S. Navy, Capt. Bryan J. Pulicari- U.S. Army, Lt. Mitchell G. Smith -U.S. Navy,

Capt. Bennet L. Thomas-U.S. Marine Corps, and Lt. Spencer D. Smith- U.S. Navy.

Eight students completed the Technical Test Flight Officer Course. They are: Lieutenant Gordon C. Finlay -US Navy, Lieutenant Robert W. Gates -US Navy, Major Matthew D. Hamtak-United States Marine Corps, Lieutenant Adam D. Meyrick-US Navy, Lieutenant Nicholas L. Myers-US Navy, Lieutenant Karl A. Petracek- US Navy, Lieutenant George K. Philbrick- US Navy, Lieutenant Kyle S. Todd -US Navy. Three students completed the test project engineer course. They are: 1st Lt. Massimo Giangregorio -Italian Air Force, Mr. Erik W. Gutenkunst, Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, Mr. Steven J. Puffenbarger, Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division.

Are you ready for some football ? United Airlines thinks so. The Year of the Pandemic-2020 saw a drastic alteration of game schedules and attendance. But now, despite the rise in the Delta variant, the country is hungry for the passing of the pigskin. United Airlines recently announced that they will be adding new routes, more flights and planes with a larger seating capacity to ferry fans to the games of their favorite teams.

United Airline is now adding 74 flights, including 52 new direct flights between college towns and professional football markets on gameday weekends beginning with the inaugural football season in September through November. United Airlines will operate three times more direct flights to college towns this year than it did in 2019, before the Pandemic shut down. According to Ankit Gupta, vice president of domestic network planning at United, “Nothing brings people together like the opportunity to cheer on the teams they love. This upcoming season, United is adding even more direct flights to college and professional football games than we’ve ever added before".

As it relates to Birmingham (BHM), additional flights have been added departing from BHM to College Station, TX in October for the game between the University of Alabama and Texas A&M and departing BHM to College, PA for the game between Auburn and Pennsylvania State University in September. In November, United has added additional flights to Birmingham from Baton Rouge, Louisiana to BHM for the big rivalry between LSU and the Crimson Tide. United has added 58 new flights to help jettison some of the most loyal college football fans in college sports including adding 44 point to point flights for 21 of their biggest away games. Some of the biggest names in college football such as Notre Dame, Michigan State, Clemson, and the University of Nebraska will benefit from this very profitable move by United Airlines. But the flight additions are not limited to college sports.

United will add 16 new direct flights for four of the most highly anticipated games of the early season, including flights between: Green Bay, WI and New Orleans, LA to watch two of the most proficient offenses square off opening weekend in the New Orleans on September 12, Green Bay, WI and San Francisco, CA to witness the San Francisco 49ers host the Packer's at Levi Stadium the weekend of September 26, Tampa, FL and Boston, MA when the Tom Brady returns to his old stomping ground on October 3, and Buffalo, NY and Kansas City, MO to see the Bills vs the Chiefs the weekend of October 10th. The addition of these new point-to-point routes are just the latest moves that the airline is creatively rebuilding its network in the wake of "post" Corona Virus. United started to prepare for the return of air travel more than a year ago, matching its flying schedule to demand by maintaining close coordination between its network planning teams and the airline’s operating groups. In September, United will fly 88% of its 2019 domestic schedule.

Tuscaloosa, Alabama mayor, Mayor Walt Maddox estimated that Alabama football alone brings in between $180 to $200 million of economic impact with tens of millions of dollars of direct and indirect tax revenue for the city. With the cancellation of football during 2020, the absence of football had a very negative impact on the economy, not just in college towns such as Tuscaloosa but nationally. According to the University of Alabama's economic data, the impact on Tuscaloosa was projected at nearly $2 billion for the 2015-2016 fiscal year. The football program generated $175.5 million of those funds, including about $25 million per game.

Although Birmingham's Legion Field is no longer the "Football Capitol of the South", it is still home to the Magic City Classic. "The Classic", as it is simply called is the largest football game between to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU's) in the nation and the largest event in Birmingham carrying a nearly $25 million economic impact. The stadium attendance averages over 60,000 annually. Therefore football is a major commodity in the area. Therefore it is very strategic and economically viable that United capitalizes on the return of football and allow access to these games that were cancelled last year. Post Pandemic 2020 in May of 2021, more air travelers were flying into and out of BHM in the previous two months, with numbers higher than at any time since the beginning of COVID-19. Traffic at BHM in April reached 152,060, an increase of 1087.7% over April 2020, according to the airport administrators. In 2020, when COVID-19 restrictions clamped down on air travel, only 12,803 passengers came through the airport. This was a decrease of almost 95% from the previous year.


Rated 0 out of 5 stars.
No ratings yet

Add a rating
bottom of page