SAFE Board Election 2021


Ellen Quist

EllenQuistI earned a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry before making an early-life career pivot to pursue my long-burning interest in aviation. I worked at the local FBO as I built up my ratings, which gave me a broad exposure to many angles of the general aviation world, and am now a freelance CFI/CFII and commercial pilot, instructing and flying with my business, Flyhalf Aero. I have always had a passion for learning, which has benefitted me greatly as I’ve progressed into a teaching role.

As a young and (admittedly very) fresh CFI, I joined SAFE for the access to professional development resources and tools to make me an informed, proficient, and safety-focused instructor. I think one of SAFE’s biggest assets to other up-and-coming instructors like myself is the mentorship program, which can give new instructors a link to the vast knowledge base of those SAFE members who have more hours of dual given than we have total hours flown, period. I have been very blessed in my flight training to have a handful of excellent mentors, but I realize that for new CFIs in areas where the pilot density is thinner, or who want to specialize in some specific type of training or aircraft, or who are young pilots that are female or people of color in a field that is overwhelmingly white and male, finding a mentor with a specific experience background or insight might be difficult at the local airport. SAFE’s ability to pair mentors with mentees benefits instructors and professionals of all ranges of experience by enabling us all to learn from others.
Aviation is constantly evolving. My generation of instructors is learning to fly and learning to teach in the era of glass panels, three-axis autopilots, and magenta lines, where the cost of training continues to climb, and between 9/11 and the COVID-19 pandemic, the pilot market has seen some aggressive fluctuations. As a member of the SAFE Board of Directors, I would hope to help communicate and advocate for the needs and concerns of this new generation of pilots, while using the wisdom of our far more experienced colleagues to promote a strong safety culture and maximize the proficiency of our next generation of aviation professionals.

Mike McCurdy

MikeMcCurdyI have been a pilot since 1989 and a CFI, CFII, and MEI since 2001. I currently own two flight schools, IFR6 and CHS Flight School.
I am passionate about effective flight training- our flight schools are very successful because we operate on simple principles:
1.    Flight training, like every successful business, should be centered on the customer’s needs.
2.    The measure of a good flight school is the number of check rides, not the number of customers.
3.    As instructors, we teach by what we do as much as by what we say.
4.    Our goal is to train people to be pilots, not just to fly an airplane.
I am excited about the opportunity to join the S.A.F.E. Board of Directors. The organization’s Code of Ethics is one of the best I have seen and dovetails perfectly with our approach to flight training here. If chosen as a Board member, I will work hard to keeping S.A.F.E. the premier flight-training organization that it is now.

Michael Phillips

MichaelPhillipsI am a professional aviation educator, a SAFE charter member, had the opportunity to fill a vacant Board seat several years ago, and a Seven-Time Master Instructor. I have been an independent flight instructor for most of my aviation career which has been part of my professional life but not my total focus. In 2005 I made the decision to focus my energy full time as a flight instructor. In the first few years, I was a Chief Flight Instructor and Manager of an FBO before choosing to flight instruct full time.

I am a principle in Aviation Simulator Training Center, instruct in many aircraft from tail wheel thru single-engine turbo-prop aircraft. I am most proud of the fact that I have logged over 12,000 hours of dual given. I am the Master Instructor Continuing Education Program Coordinator, which recently integrated our Accreditation Program with SAFE, and as such I meet with the SAFE Board on a monthly basis.

The diversity of my years in aviation, my passion for excellence, and the role that SAFE has played in my growth as a flight instructor has made my decision to ask for your vote, as a member of the Board, another way to give back to those of us that have chosen Aviation Education as an integral and important part of our lives.