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Club Flight Instructors

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Ihago Pinto

Chief Flight Instructor

 

Commercial Pilot:

- ASEL/AMEL

- CFI, CFII, MEI

- ATP

Ihago (pronounced as “Yago”) Pinto was born in Danbury, Connecticut and at a young age moved to Brazil where he grew up. He pursued his flight training while attending college  and earned his bachelor’s degree in Aeronautical Science in 2013 alongside his licenses. 

 

In 2014, he decided to move back to America and chose Wilmington, as his new hometown. While working as a businessman, Ihago had to study on his free time to transfer all his licenses and ratings. 

 

Nowadays, he shares a love for flying and teaching. He speaks 3 languages (English, Portuguese and Spanish) while learning the 4th (Italian), and continues to inspire people, especially his kids, into the aviation world.

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Drew Holbrook

 

Commercial Pilot:

- ASEL, AMEL
- CFI, CFII, MEI

- ATP 

Andrew (“Drew”) Holbrook began flying in 1991 while completing his degree in Mechanical Engineering at the University of South Carolina. Not long after earning his PPL, he bought a 1954 Piper Tri-Pacer that he flew for 17 years.

 

Drew, and his wife, Flo, have made their home at Stag Air Park for the past 27 years, where he is a member EAA Chapter 297. He serves as Facility/Project Engineer for General Electric in Castle Hayne during the week.

 

Drew’s hobbies include building hardwood furniture, boating, and aircraft construction. His two builds include a Zenith CH-750, and the RV-8 he currently flies. He holds Builder/Repairman Certificates for both.

 

Drew maintains proficiency through frequent flights in his RV-8, and through the flight training he provides. He has logged over 3000 hours and has given 1700 hours of instruction. He is available for flight training on weekends, and, on request, evenings.

Kelli Canup

 

Commercial Pilot:

- ASEL/AMEL

- CFI, CFII, MEI

Kelli Canup is a Wilmington resident, professional pilot, certified flight instructor and full-time mom. She received a BA degree in Physiology and Psychology from St. Mary’s College in California.

 

Kelli was a flight attendant for United Airlines early in her career but realized she was more fascinated with what was happening in the cockpit versus the passenger section of the plane and made the switch to become a professional pilot. Kelli accomplished her training at Comair Aviation Academy, a Part 141 Flight School, and received all of her ratings in just 10 months. After 2 1/2 years as a flight instructor, Kelli was hired by Comair Airlines, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Delta Airlines, where she flew as a commercial pilot for 5 years.

 

Kelli eventually found her way to Wilmington, NC where she has been a flight instructor since 2015. She has accumulated over 6,800 hours of total flight time which includes over 2,500 with commercial airlines and 3,550 of dual instruction. Kelli also serves the Wilmington general aviation community by serving as the local Federal Aviation Administration Safety Team (FAAST) representative. Her dedication to aviation safety is one of her passions and she is committed to helping to improve the nation’s aviation accident rate by conveying safety principles through training, outreach, and education.

 

Kelli has two magnificent children and is married to fellow aviation professional, Eric Canup, Chief Pilot and Director of Flight Operations for Live Oak Bank.

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Rich Williams

Commercial Pilot:

- ASEL/AMEL

- CFI

Rich has lived in Wilmington and been flying in and around the area for over 25 years. His interest in flying began at an early age and he began taking flying lessons while in high school. Rich went to school for engineering, earning degrees from North Carolina State University and Georgia Tech. After a career that included engineering, manufacturing and various entrepreneurial ventures, Rich now dedicates the bulk of his time to aviation, flying and flight instruction.

 

Rich has been a member of the Cape Fear Flying club since 2014 and currently serves as President of the club. He is also a founding member of the Wilmington Pilots Association, which is a local general aviation advocacy group whose mission is to provide a collective voice for general aviation, as well as to provide support and leadership in the evolution of general aviation investment and growth opportunities in the Wilmington area. Rich is also a local representative for the FAA Safety Team where he works with other representatives to convey safety principles and practices through training, outreach and education; while establishing partnerships and encouraging the continual growth of a positive safety culture within the aviation community.

 

Rich is originally from Cary, N.C. but loves calling Wilmington home. He is also a paraglider and powered-paraglider pilot, but spends most of his time these days in the airplane category. He is married with four daughters and divides his time between family, flying and a little bit of fishing now and then.

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Alice Paul

 

Commercial Pilot:

- ASEL

- CFI

Alice Paul was born and raised in New Bern, NC. She started flying in 2019 as a junior in high school. In 2021, she started working as a flight instructor at the New Bern airport while she was also working towards her associates degree in Aviation Management and Career Pilot Technology. She is now a resident of Wilmington while she is attending University of North Carolina Wilmington earning a B.S in Geosciences.

Aside from aviation, Alice loves playing cards, camping, and building model aircraft . Alice is currently working on earning her CFII and is stoked to share her love of all things aviation through Cape Fear Flying Club.

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David Ross

 

Commercial Pilot:

- ASEL

- CFI

Dave Ross has been a pilot for more than 40 years. His career led him through multiple relocations across the northeast part of the US. He and his wife relocated to the Cape Fear region several years ago.  He is devoted to spending time with his three adult children and four grandchildren. 


Dave’s passion for aviation and teaching lead him to flight instructing.  His piloting experience covers a wide range of aircraft from the classic Aeronca Champ to the high tech Cirrus.  He enjoys sharing his passion for aviation with new aspiring pilots and seasoned aviators.

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Johan Sanchez

 

Commercial Pilot:

- ASEL

- CFI

Johan is originally from Colombia, South America, and is the first pilot in his family. He moved to the U.S. in 2006 and has lived near the coast ever since.

 

Johan's passion for Aviation began back in 2016 when he was invited to go on a few general aviation flights and received a generous scholarship by the LeRoy W. Homer Jr. Foundation, here in Wilmington. Ever since, he decided to follow a  career in aviation which lead him to pursue a B.S. degree in Aviation Science that started at a part 141 college in Puerto Rico. After surviving multiple category 3 & 4 hurricanes and obtaining his Private Pilot’s license in 2018, Johan decided to move to Florida and enroll in Liberty University online and continue his education. In Florida, Johan obtained his instrument and commercial license.

 

Having grown up here, Johan always considered Wilmington his second home and decided to move back with his Great Pyrenees dog named “Pilot". Here he obtained his CFI Certificate and finished college in 2020.
Johan credits his aviation science degree and the rigors of a Part 141 flight training program for providing extensive understanding of the aviation industry and for shaping him into a more dedicated pilot, as well as broadening his overall growth and development.

Aside from flying, Johan spends time with his dog, friends and family. He enjoys to surf, play music, paint and build canvas frames, cycling and running, traveling, and coffee. Johan enjoys meeting and learning from other people, which makes teaching others about his passion for flying even that much more rewarding.

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Rick France

Commercial Pilot:

- ASEL

- CFI

 

Rick is a resident of Hampstead, a retired USAF Lt Col, a NC Attorney (inactive status) and a current CFI and A&P Technician.  His flying career began with earning the Private Pilot Certificate at the flying club, Marine Corps Air Station, Beaufort SC.  

Following the USMC, Rick entered college and earned his A&P Certificate, a Business Degree and was commissioned a 2nd Lt. through AFROTC.  Rick's USAF flight training included the T-37, T-38, Fighter Lead in Training and F-4E Replacement Training as a back seat Weapons System Officer at MacDill AFB, Tampa FL.  

While stationed at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Rick earned a Masters of Aviation Management at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University European Branch.  Upon return to CONUS, Rick entered law school in Michigan and flew the F-4C and F-4D with the Michigan Air National Guard.  Rick accepted a position at Seymour Johnson AFB with the Air defense Alert Detachment thus moving the family to North Carolina.  

Rick retired from the Counter Drug Program at the Pentagon and returned to NC and practiced law for 21 years.  Earning his CFI in 2004, Rick served as a CFI for CFFC in 2015, and A&P and CFI for Air Wilmington, an A&P for Modern Aviation and a CFI for All American Aviation Services.  

Rick and his wife, Sue, enjoy volunteering at the NC Aquarioum Fort Fisher where Rick has been a diver since 2015.  Rick prefers to instruct in areas of aircraft checkouts, Club Annual / FAA Flight Reviews and Upset Prevention & Recovery Training (UPRT) / CFI Spin Endorsement Training.  

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Houston Branham

Commercial Pilot:

- ASEL/AMEL

- CFI, CFII, MEI

Houston moved to Wilmington in August of 2023 from Louisville, Kentucky. He was an infantryman in the US Army stationed in Texas with a deployment to Afghanistan.  

 

After the Army, Houston played rugby at the University of Louisville and earned his Bachelor of Science in Nursing. He enjoyed helping and teaching others as an ICU Registered Nurse at a level one trauma center. Since hospitals and airports are his favorite places, he decided to pursue flight training at ATP Flight School. During training he discovered his love for aviation and obtained his Commercial Single and Multi-Engine Certificates with Instrument rating. From there he got certified as a Flight Instructor, Multi-Engine Instructor, and Instrument Flight Instructor.

 

In his free time, Houston loves to stay active, explore, and try all of the local food and coffee he can find! 

Houston is excited to share his passion for aviation, continue learning, and looks forward to helping others grow along the way!

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Annika Thomason

Commercial Pilot:

- ASEL 

- CFI

Annika was born in Wilmington NC and at the age of 5, she moved to Japan. Being fluent in Japanese and English, she had always aspired to pursue a career that would allow her to use both languages. Growing up, she flew back and forth between Japan and NC for family visits and found an interest in becoming a flight attendant. 

While working for her parents at the Oak Island Sub Shop, she was recommended by some local pilots to take a discovery flight. Once she took the discovery flight, she completely fell in love with aviation from that day on. She started her training at Brunswick Air flight school located at Cape Fear Regional Jetport in 2019. During her time there, she obtained her private pilot, instrument rating, and commercial pilot certification.  

She obtained her CFI certificate in March of 2024. Her goal is to continue to gain knowledge and skills through training while sharing her love for aviation.

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