National Election Day may still be a week away, but in Frederick, Maryland, the voters have spoken—and the winner is Brenda Tibbs, named Best Flight Instructor in the 2016 Flight Training Poll.
The good news doesn’t stop there for the 2,000-hour CFI who just two months ago stepped out on her own to found Bravo Flight Training after six years as an instructor for an established FBO. On the day she learned about her electoral success, Tibbs also received final municipal approval to run her flight school at the airport, ratifying a process in the works since summer.
Like her counterpart in Orlando, Tibbs will soon add an aircraft to her fleet that now consists of a Cessna 150 and a Cessna 172. The new arrival, a Piper Arrow, will give her students access to an aircraft with retractable landing gear and a constant-speed prop for advanced training.
Tibbs said instructing for her last employer, and during previous tenure working at AOPA—where she served members in the Pilot Information Center and later as a flying club specialist—has been an “awesome” experience.
But she felt something was missing from pilot training—something she could zero in on in her new venture: a sense of community.
“Everyone was coming, taking lessons and leaving, and not connecting,” she said.
Tibbs knew from working on member service programs at AOPA that retaining pilots as active members of the general aviation community is a high priority, because a sense of community is one reason people love to fly.
So in addition to her flight schedule and working out details of getting the new flight school up and running, Tibbs organizes regular activities that benefit her airport’s community such as monthly gatherings that spotlight educational topics in a social atmosphere.
A recent get-together featured two designated pilot examiners who discussed their roles and gave attendees a chance to ask questions. An upcoming session will bring pilots and air traffic controllers together.
Carving out a niche is a way to give any business an edge, and Tibbs has found an important role as an instructor of the pilots of the future. It’s a great fit for the mother of a teen and a fitting follow-on to her work with Frederick Aviation Explorers, a local youth development program.
It also has this advantage: “That’s what I love to do,” she said.
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