Do you know an up and coming GA star?

For our last print issue of the year, we’re going to focus on the next generation of GA’s leaders, from CFIs to flight planning entrepreneurs to those who are sharing their passion for aviation in any number of ways. Do you know someone who fits this description? Let us know who they are, what they are doing and why you think they fit the bill.

It’s no secret that aviation is filled with “old” pilots. But, there are a good number of “young” folks making their mark. For example: Chelsea Welch, 30, is a CFI and pilot’s watch marketer; Andy Matthews, 33, is the co-founder of iFlightPlanner and a professional golfer and pilot; Chuck Wiplinger, 33, is third generation leader of Minnesota-based Wipaire, the float manufacturer. There are many others under 40 in our industry.

Help us locate these up-and-coming instructors, manufacturers, marketers, pilots, etc … We’ll turn the spotlight on the Next Generation in the Dec. 20 issue of General Aviation News.

You can send your suggestions to or put them in the comments below.


  1. Al Smith says

    I’d second the nomination of Jeff Simon from SocialFlight. From what I’ve seen and experienced myself, Jeff has created something FREE that is ACTUALLY changing the face of GA NOW (not just a good idea with potential). It’s a great app, is has tons of events mapped, and I love the weekly email that get’s me thinking about flying every weekend!

    I can honestly say that I fly more now that I know all of the events happening around me. And, getting people flying more is the key to the survival of GA. Isn’t that what we all need in General Aviation’s up and coming entrepreneurs?

  2. Larry Overstreet says

    One pair in particular who I think are deserving of recognition is Rod Rakic and Adam Fast of Open Airplane.

    You’ve probably heard about his goal of making it as easy to rent an airplane as it is to rent a car. One thing that I think is sometimes overlooked is that in the process, Open Airplane is making GA safer as well. This is because the universal checkout is pretty comprehensive. The model is taken from Civil Air Patrol, which has a significantly lower accident rate than the rest of GA.

    Personally, I feel that I will benefit from Open Airplane in both ways – just doing the universal checkout has value and will make me a safer pilot, even if I never rent an airplane from an Open Airplane FBO. Then, of course, as I travel for business or personal reasons, I will be able to rent an airplane for some local sight-seeing, taking friends or family for a ride, etc. in a much easier and more cost-effective ant time-effective way.

    So, please consider Rod and Adam as a candidate for the Up and Coming GA Star recognition

  3. Mike Lambert says

    I’m going to have to go with Rod Rakic and Adam Fast. Of course everyone knows that ForeFlight revolutionized flight planning and in cockpit navigation, but OpenAirplane is revolutionizing the entire GA community by making the dry, redundant fly somewhere new get another checkout before you can solo, disappear. These two are my clear choices for the number one slot if people changing GA making it more accessible for everyone.

  4. John Halbrook says

    I would also like to nominate Rod Rakic and his partner Adam for their work in the creation of Open Airplane ( This startup is pulling together aircraft rentals from all over the country and combining them into a single check ride, reservation, and payment system. You no longer have to guess where planes that you can fly are located, and you don’t have to jump through extra hoops when you get there. This model increases the market for local FBOs to engage pilots all over the country, and it makes a pilots license more valuable and usable for the average pilot.

  5. says

    I don’t think you can mention GA leaders without talking about Rod and Adam over at OpenAirplane. They are completely revolutionizing the aircraft rental industry and making GA so much more accessible to new and old pilots alike. I really love the enthusiasm they have for aviation and helping to grow our community.

  6. says

    I second the mention of Open Airplane. I think this is a hugely innovative concept and obviously successful spoolup. I plan on taking advantage of a universal checkout so I can rent an airplane to wherever my travel takes me.

  7. says

    I would like to nominate Amanda Griffith age 19, a CFI, CFII, MEI, and AGI also in training to be an aerial applicator (crop duster), plus volunteers for Girls In Flight Training program as an instructor. ( She also qualifies for her Gold Seal, just needs to finish the application. Her passion for aviation shows in her love of flying anything from the piper cub, to any twin cross the country. As a very young instructor and pilot she has endured the discrimination of being too young as an instructor and a female instructor. She is also currently expanding her knowledge of mechanical side of aviation. She will be remembered by many aviators as she progresses in life.

  8. Pete Kuhns says

    Tyson Weihs may have already won this, but if he hasn’t, he should. Founder of Foreflight, which pretty much changed avionics. Although I can’t tell how old he is. Probably under 40 though…

  9. says

    “Yeah, here comes that guy “Beck” again”! Don’t fret guys and gals – there’s SOMEONE who knows it’s going to take a lot more than just PASSION to make GA work – its called MONEY – and not from AviaCare!
    I’m a staunch believer in a “fee market” and , yes, capitalism. That said , ALL the hype by many, and you KNOW who you are, have some misguide impression that ‘”selling” GA, the recreational segment, is the GOAL here – or is it?
    To all you “preachers” and messiahs” – just TELL me HOW all this convincing the entire planet, and maybe a few folks from Mars, contributes to the ECONOMIC well being of GA – on earth?
    Now don’t get me wrong – I’m all for promoting ANY aspect of GA – providing it ULTIMATELY results in bringing financial prosperity to its providers, manufactures, and retailers, such as FBO’s, flight schools, shops, and yes, even publications whose mere existence relies on PAYING advertisers; not “passing the plate”!
    So ladies and gents, you can continue to “chase the rainbow” and stay and play in the sandbox, but not until you’re all willing to get out of Disney World and denial and face REALITY square in the face – an idealistic non- business approach, that HASN’T worked in the past if continued, will surely guarantee the ultimate demise of the recreational (social) segment of GA within this century. Of course, this is only MY personal crystal ball take!

  10. Chris says

    Id like to nominate Cory Robin of SkyVantage. Cory is a super cool guy with a great business outlook. His business has been open since 1999, his company makes Airline Managment software to maximize eficciency and productivity of an Airline.

  11. says

    I think Pete Bowers, owner of WACO Classic is a great choice. He bought the company about 5 or 6 years ago, in that time he has transformed it. Introducing the new WACO “D” model a few years ago and most recently re-introducing a nicely updated Great Lakes. That alone is a herculean achievement in these difficult economic times and current regulatory environment. Just guessing here, but I think it’s been 10 or 15 years since any american manufacture has introduced or re-introduced a new single engine airplane to market?

        • says

          Pete; OK, I read you -give me about a decade on a qualified candidate – thanks! I’ll give you a “A” for correcting me! Isn’t this more of a “mindset” than “chronological” age, wouldn’t you agree? And YOUR choice – curious?

  12. Len Assante says

    A nice problem to have is that there are many worthy candidates! I agree Al Waterloo and the gang at deserve strong consideration. Great energy and enthusiasm. Others worth a look include Rod Rakic at OpenAirplane, Jeff Simon at SocialFlight, Rick Matthews at Aviation Access Project, and Michael Flint at Visionary Aviation.

  13. says

    I would like to also nominate Al Waterloo, the most excited young pilot entrepreneur in general aviation today. His passion for sharing the love of aviation emits in everything he does. His radio show Simple Flight is formed completely around the aviation entrepreneurs and love for aviation. His future plans will change the way aviation is seen and I am so excited for him.

  14. says

    I’d like to nominate Al Waterloo, one of the founders and hosts of online radio show. His passion for aviation is incredible and what he is doing with the podcast/live radio show and website is perfect for an industry needing a larger digital presence.

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