They are a rare breed of men and women — FAA Certified Flight Instructors. And have no doubt, these are hardy souls who willingly allow novice pilots to fly them around day after day, in good weather and bad, enduring everything from awkward skids to back-of-the-curve approaches until their charges are seasoned enough to pass the requisite flight tests. At Willamette Aviation, our CFIs are among the best around: high-hour pilots who love teaching the art of the airplane. Come take an introductory flight to find out how challenging — and fun — flying can be.
Willamette Aviation Chief Flight Instructor Stan Swan is a native Oregonian who discovered a love of flying while in his teens, leading him to serve as a Civil Air Patrol cadet throughout high school and most of his university career. After a tour in the Army, he learned to fly on the GI Bill, earning his Commercial, Instrument and CFI ratings. Stan then transitioned to the business world, rising to management positions in several local manufacturing companies, and after a long hiatus he has returned to flight instruction, his first love. Stan owns a Piper Comanche 260, which has provided him with most of his aviation experience. He always looks forward to introducing many new pilots to the world of aviation, while helping old pros become better and safer at what they do.
Bob Wood's life has followed three distinct paths: flying, teaching and acting. He became a Private Pilot in Seattle on his 17th birthday. He then obtained an Associate Degree in Air Traffic Control in 1971 and accepted a position as Flight Attendant with United Airlines in 1972. United taught him how to instruct, so he combined flying and teaching as a Flight Attendant Instructor. Having been "discovered" making announcements on a flight to LAX, Bob began an acting career. He auditioned in Hollywood, and he's honored to have portrayed Capt. Jason Dahl, the Captain of UA92, in the 2005 docudrama The Flight that Fought Back. Refocused on flying, Bob received his CFI certificate in 2007. He also holds Instrument and Multi-Engine instructor ratings, as well as an Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate, and he became a Certified Cirrus Training Instructor in 2015.
Matthew Mikesh was born and raised in the Portland area, and he first got a feel for airplanes when he was 10 years old and his dad showed him a few basic maneuvers in an ultralight. He credits his father as his inspiration to pursue aviation. Matthew served in the U.S. Air Force, doing operations intelligence for F-22 aircraft at Holloman AFB. He also worked directly with F-22 pilots and spent several weeks training in Air Force simulators. After he left the Air Force, Matthew enrolled in college and studied finance, but the pull of aviation proved difficult to overcome. He earned his multi-engine rating in Hillsboro, and then his CFI/CFII in Bend. "I'm excited to be back the air," Matthew says. "I'm also looking forward to working with others to help them achieve their aviation goals."
Luis Lemus was born in Mexico and raised in Southern California. He and his wife moved to Portland (her hometown), where they are raising their young son. Along with aviation, Luis' other great passion is fishing — and in fact, he decided to pursue aviation so that he would have the freedom to travel to different fishing spots and explore new areas. Luis previously worked as a flight instructor in Florida, where he shared his love of aviation with others and helped aspiring pilots improve their skills. "Throughout my life," Luis says, "I've been driven by a sense of adventure and a desire to explore the world around me. Whether it's reeling in a big catch out on the open water, or flying through the skies, I'm always seeking out new experiences and pushing myself to new heights."
From a very young age, Ash Mussman was looking up at the sky, fascinated with airplanes and flight. In 2000, she began flying in Prescott, Arizona, but quickly hit financial roadblocks that forced her to make the difficult decision to discontinue training. After twenty years of thinking about what could have been, she decided to return to the sky, earning her Private, Instrument, Commercial, and CFI ratings all with Willamette Aviation. "Never give up on your dreams," Ash says. "Helping individuals succeed in reaching their aviation goals is the greatest gift I can offer as a Flight Instructor. Witnessing the joy of aviation on a student's face is the greatest gift they can offer to me."
James Neils was born in The Dalles and grew up in White Salmon, Wash. He went on his first airline flight when he was eight years old, which included a brief visit the flight deck. From that moment on, James knew that he wanted to be a pilot. After finishing high school he started his flight training in Troutdale, but he soon put his training on pause so that he could focus on college. James returned to flight training in 2019, this time at Hillsboro. During this time he also met his wife and relocated to Salem. James earned his initial CFI certificate at Willamette Aviation, and he's delighted to join the team. "Flying is my passion," he says. "I'm here to encourage future aviators to achieve their flying goals."
Paul Glatts always has been fascinated by flight. While growing up in rural Montana, he built countless model airplanes and always dreamed of flying a real one. Studying for a degree in engineering at Walla Walla University, he earned his private pilot's license as "just a hobby." However, the lure of aviation proved too strong, and after gaining his instrument rating and commercial license Paul graduated with a degree in aviation. He expanded his flight experience with a paragliding license, and he can regularly be seen hanging under a canopy. Paul now seeks to pass on his love of flying to emerging pilots. "I have a special passion for teaching back-country landings," he says. "I want to prioritize safety and share my enthuiasm with all of my students."
Alex Jonson is a Pacific Northwest native who fell in love with aviation at a young age. He began flying as a teenager in Seattle. He has since lived in Arizona, where he acquired an aeronautical science degree along with all of his ratings. Alex gained experience teaching in the desert, which he happily brings back to the much-wetter Willamette Valley. He also has a strong, lifelong passion for aviation and feels best when he is in the air with his students. "Being able to teach the world of aviation to aspiring pilots is not only fun," Alex says "but one of the most rewarding things a person can do."
Brian Musson has been in love with flying for as long as he can remember. His childhood bedroom was a testament to the marketing team at NASA. Glider lessons in a Schweizer 2-33 provided the first entry to the thrill of flying an airplane solo. During college, a local flying club with a Cessna 152 and 172 was barely affordable, and he earned both his private pilot certificate and instrument rating. Brian kept aviation as a hobby while building a career as an engineer. He owned a Cessna 182 for many years, has shared ownership of a 172 and a Piper Cub, built an experimental aircraft (Van's RV-6A), and helped others build a kitfox and more RVs. His family tree includes many teachers, and Brian picked up the joy of teaching from them. He currently instructs in Willamette's twin engine Apache and the tailwheel Champ.
Ian McDonough, a Seattle native, began his aviation career as a pilot for the US Marine Corps flying OV-10 Broncos. After seven years as a Marine, he flew charter flights in California before being hired by his first major airline, Continental Airlines flying Boeing 727s. He then joined Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF), spending five years flying in the jungles and mountains of Indonesian New Guinea. In 1989 Ian was hired by his second major airline and finished his career as a 737 Captain for Alaska Airlines. Ian now serves as a CFI to share the joy, enthusiasm, and challenges of an avocation that gave him an incredibly satisfying career.