Legionnaire receives FAA Flight Instructor of the Year Award for Eastern Region

East Moriches, NY

After retiring as the 42nd Infantry Division Aviation Brigade safety officer and UH-1 Instructor Pilot in the New York Army National Guard, I started doing contract flight training with the American Bonanza Society. In that capacity I do initial and recurrent flight training for owners of Beech piston airplanes, most notably the Beech Bonanza. I have had the pleasure of meeting and flying with some fantastic ex-military and civilian pilots. I conducted an initial Bonanza check out along with complex and high-performance endorsements for Dr. Inderpal Chhabra. I provided proficiency training to another pilot, Mr. Dave Tobachnik, following the guidelines of the FAA WINGS Program. In December 2016 those two pilots were flying together in Dr. Chhabra’s A36 Bonanza when the propeller departed the aircraft over the Long Island Sound. The two pilots worked together and did a masterful job of ditching the crippled aircraft into the Sound with no injuries. The United States Coast Guard Auxiliary had aircraft on sight within minutes and coordinated the rescue. Both pilots received the American Bonanza Society Airmanship Award for their extraordinary team response during that in-flight emergency.
Earlier this year, Erik Podszus, commander, Flotilla 014-12-07, ADSO-HR/D1SR, Air Station Republic, USCGAUX asked me if I would address the flotilla during their September meeting. I thought this would be a great opportunity to have Dr. Chhabra and Mr. Tobachnik speak to the group about the ditching and have them meet with the Coast Guard Auxiliary members who coordinated the rescue .
I discussed the idea with Commander Podszus. The commander liked the concept and scheduled the meeting. Dr. Chhabra and Mr. Tobachnik presented an excellent program. The audience was captivated by the retelling of the ditching and learned a great deal from Inderpal and Dave’s experience.
Farmingdale FSDO Manager Erik Anderson and Farmingdale FAASTeam Program Manager Ben Struck, with Commander Podszus’ consent ,took the opportunity to open the flotilla meeting as an FAA WINGS-sponsored training event. Over 100 USCG AUX members and area pilots were in attendance. Before Inderpal and Dave began their presentation, Mr. Anderson and Mr. Struck formally presented me with three awards: the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award, the 2019 Flight Instructor of the Year Award, Eastern Region, and the 2019 Flight Instructor of the Year Award, Farmingdale District.

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