Master Instructors LLC designated its next class of Ten-Time Masters. The historic achievement marks twenty years of participation in the Master Instructor Continuing Education Program (MICEP). Three instructors comprise this second group to reach the ten-time milestone: David Faile of Fairfield, Connecticut; Lonnie Hilkemeier of Boulder, Colorado; and Lou Wipotnik of Wheeling, Illinois. All three are charter members of the Society of Aviation and Flight Educators (SAFE)
David Faile is an AOPA Airport Support Network (ASN) representative, a FAASTeam representative in the Windsor Locks FSDO area, and the holder of the FAA’s Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award. The 1999 National CFI of the Year, David instructs at Bridgeport’s Sikorsky Airport (BDR).
Lonnie Hilkemeier is the senior flight instructor and president of Specialty Flight Training (http://www.SpecialtyFlight.com/), a Cessna Pilot Center at Boulder Airport (BDU). Colorado’s first Master Instructor in 1998, he also serves as a FAASTeam representative in the FAA’s Denver FSDO area.
Lou Wipotnik is an independent Chicago-area flight and ground instructor at Chicago Executive Airport (PWK). The holder of an FAA Wright Brothers Master Pilot award and the 1996 National CFI of the Year, he is also a FAASTeam representative in the FAA’s DuPage FSDO area and serves in the Civil Air Patrol’s Illinois Wing.
According to MICEP co-creator JoAnn Hill, “We are honored that these individuals have continued with the program for so long, and are excited to share their amazing accomplishment.” Others will soon join the ranks of Ten-Time Masters over the upcoming months.
As a reward for long-term commitment to professional development as aviation educators, Ten-Time Masters receive embroidered MA-1 flight jackets sponsored by PilotMall.com of Lakeland, FL. Additionally, Master Instructors LLC commissioned special wings pins reserved exclusively for Ten-Time and Emeritus Masters, sponsored by Aviation Instruction of Camarillo, CA and Specialty Flight Training of Boulder, CO. The names of Ten-Time Masters are also listed on a dedicated page on the Master Instructors website under the menu tab “With Distinction.”
The Master Instructor Continuing Education Program was conceived and developed in 1995 by JoAnn and Sandy Hill of Longmont, Colorado, and launched in 1997 during AirVenture with the blessing of then-FAA Administrator Barry Valentine. The Hills, highly experienced educators with a passion for aviation, developed the program as a means to encourage and recognize higher levels of professionalism in aviation education. The program also sets professional standards to which all aviation educators can aspire.
The Hills initially administered the program through another organization; in 2009, however, they formed Master Instructors LLC. According to MICEP co-creator Sandy Hill, “We, along with a vast majority of Master Instructors, believed the program stood for something much larger than any one organization.” He added, “moving the program’s management to an independent entity has provided much greater autonomy and ensured impartiality in the accreditation process.”
The peer-reviewed designation process is rigorous. In addition to other requirements, applicants must document at least 500 hours in qualifying activities within the previous 24 calendar months. To foster well-rounded aviation educators, the hours must be distributed among five categories: Educator, Service to the Aviation Community, Creator of Media, Continuing Education, and Participant.
The Hills are quick to point out that Master Instructors have “earned their black belts” in aviation education, thus setting them apart from instructors who merely use the job to further their air carrier careers. The evidence bears out the Hills’ assertion: since 1997, a combined 37 individuals have been honored in the National CFI and FAASTeam Rep of the Year categories, 27 of whom are Master Instructors. The marketplace has also responded to their commitment to the profession: a poll revealed that most Masters realize a 10 to 40 percent increase in income as a result of their participation in MICEP.
MICEP’s success has been the model for other aviation accreditation programs. The Soaring Society of America (SSA), for example, drew on the Hills work to develop its Master Instructor Cross-Country program. The derivative programs, however, require membership in the sponsoring organizations to participate. MICEP, on the other hand, is open to all qualified aviation educators regardless of their other affiliations; membership in a particular organization is not a prerequisite. With more than 160 active Masters, MICEP remains the largest accreditation program of its type for aviation educators.
JoAnn Hill says the program will “continue to serve current Masters while improving outreach to other aviation educators.” Continuing to influence training standards and doctrine, promote industry programs such as General Aviation Awards, and form new partnerships with training providers are goals as well.
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