The staff of Lanier Flight Center represents over 300 years of experience in flight instruction and professional flying. As an Atlanta Flight School, we are a dedicated team of aviation professionals who understand how privileged we are to be able to experience the freedom and joy of general aviation. We are committed to providing excellent service and training to a high standard.
We welcome you to contact us any time. Please call or email with questions or just to get to know us a little better. We are looking forward to working with you in training for a new certificate or rating, currency or just having fun in an airplane.
Troy Wheeler – President
Troy Wheeler is the President of Lanier Flight Center and Lanier Flight Express. Since entering into aviation in 1982, Troy has logged more than 20,000 flight hours in multiple types of aircraft. He is celebrating 25 years with American Airlines and 10 years with Lanier Flight Center.
Kenny Wheeler – Vice President
Kenny Wheeler is owner of Wheeler Services, Inc. in Alpharetta, Georgia. Wheeler Services has over 20 years in business as a construction and landscape company. Kenny Wheeler has his Private License and is currently working on his Instrument Rating.
Mark T. Sulimirski – Director of Sales and Marketing
As Sales and Marketing Director, Mark is responsible for maximizing Cessna Piston Aircraft sales and Lanier Flight Center’s position as a premier flight school, spearheading marketing and business development strategies and promoting general aviation.
Heidi Earle – Director of Operations
Heidi is the third generation of aviators in her family.
She enjoys using her education and background in communication, management, and marketing to support the wonderful customers and team members at Lanier Flight Center. In her words, LFC is where smart people have fun!
Paul Kyst – Director of Maintenance
When Paul is not flying Boeing 777s for American Airlines, he manages the maintenance team and keeps the Lanier Flight Center’s fleet airborne. He joined Lanier Flight Center in February of 2011 and is a Licensed A&P Mechanic with an IA permit. He brings a wealth of experience in managing fleets of aircraft to the team at Lanier Flight Center.
Brian Bera – PDK Manager & Flight Instructor – CFI, CFII, MEI
Brian is originally from Napa, California. He has been flying since 1997 and has had a variety of jobs in the aviation field including being a tour pilot in the Grand Canyon. His love for flying motivated him to get his CFI in 2000, and his excitement for aviation overflows into his operational management of our PDK location as well as into each lesson he teaches.
Gainesville (KGVL) Based Flight Instructors
Chuck Padgett – Chief Flight Instructor – CFI, CFII, MEI, Factory Approved Training
Chuck is the Chief Flight Instructor for LFC and oversees flight instruction and flight safety issues at KGVL and KPDK. He began flying while in college. Now he also provides the Certified Cessna Factory Approved Training to new aircraft customers. He holds a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Architecture from Georgia Tech. If you are interested in a career or flying for business, call Chuck today!
David Gazda – Assistant Chief Flight Instructor - CFI, CFII, MEI
David Gazda has been an important part of the LFC team for over six years. He is originally from Jacksonville, ILL, and his eyes were opened to the love of aviation as a Civil Air Patrol member. David’s passion for teaching others has led to many certificated pilots over the years, and he enjoys supporting his fellow instructors in his role as Assistant Chief Flight Instructor.
Derek Metro – Ground School Coordinator; Senior Flight Instructor – CFI, CFII, A & P
Derek got his Private Pilot at 18 and later a B.S degree in Aviation Maintenance Management from San Jose State University. He has been instructing since 1993 including 10 years as a full-time flight instructor in the San Francisco Bay area. Over 90% of his students pass the checkride on the first try.
Kelly Chandler – Flight Instructor – CFI, CFII
Since 2005 Kelly has been a member of the LFC Flying Club and has accomplished his Private, Instrument, Multi-Engine, Commercial, CFI, and CFII Ratings. Kelly has graduated more than 20 pilots at Lanier Flight Center. You know Kelly is near if you hear, “Let’s go fly!”
Jesse Compton – Flight Instructor – CFI, CFII, MEI
Jesse Compton has been flight instructing for 3 years with over 1000 hrs. He took his first lesson at 17 and has been flying ever since. Jesse has an Associates in Flight Technology. He has maintained a spotless pass rate of a 100%. Whether you are looking for a nice discovery flight…
Jon Owens – Flight Instructor & FAA A&P Licensed Mechanic – CFI, A & P
As a 2007 alumni of NGCSU, Jon Owens is no stranger to the Gainesville area nor to aviation. In addition to instructing, he is both a single-engine and a multi-engine instrument-rated commercial pilot. A career aviator of many talents, Jon has served in the Marine Corps…
Bill Shuford – Flight Instructor – CFI, CFII, MEI
Bill Shuford is a FAA Gold Seal Flight Instructor, CFI, CFII, MEI, Ground Instructor, FAASTeam Member. At Lanier Flight Center, Bill is a Lanier Flight Center flight instructor and joined the LFC Team in 2005 and has logged almost 4000 flight hours of which 75% were as an Flight Instructor.
Liz Kooymans – Flight Instructor – CFI
Liz Kooymans is a mechanical engineer that graduated from Georgia Tech. She then moved to Texas to work in the defense industry at Raytheon as a Mechanical Engineer for about 5 years. Then one day she met a fellow engineer who was a pilot and lived in a hanger home at a flying community. By the end of the week…
Dekalb-Peachtree (KPDK) Based Flight Instructors
Randy Carpenter – Flight Instructor – CFI, CFII
Randy has been flight instructing for 2 years with over 1200 hours, 75% as an instructor. He has experience in Piper aircraft (Saratoga, Warrior, Archer, Arrow, Dakota), Cessna aircraft (C172, C172RG, C182, C182RG, Turbo 182), Beechcraft aircraft (BE-76) and G1000 avionics systems. Randy has been safely flying in and out…
Juan Leon – Flight Instructor – ATP, CFI, CFII, MEI, MEII
Juan Leon is a Part-time Instructor on weekends at PDK. He was worked in aviation since the 1970′s. He has flown as a line pilot for Part 91 and 135 operators, as a demo pilot and factory instructor for a major manufacturer in Wichita. He has also been a pilot examiner conducting jet type ratings for a major training organization. Juan holds…
Patrick MacFarlane – Flight Instructor – ATP, CFI, CFII, MEI
Although a full time corporate pilot and business aircraft broker, Patrick’s favorite hobby is sharing his passion of aviation with others. He has been teaching at DeKalb-Peachtree Airport for nearly a decade and has given over 3000 flight hours of instruction.
Jackson Slappy – Flight Instructor – CFI, CFII, MEI
Jackson Slappy has been flying for almost 25 years. His love of flying started with
his father who worked for the FAA. He was able to see the flight operations from the
inside and knew one day he would be joining the aviation community.
David Schiff – Flight Instructor – ATP, CFI, CFII, MEI
David has been flight instructing for 25 years with over 8000 hours, 70% as an instructor. He was Chief Pilot, Training Officer, and Check Airman for a medium-sized international Part 135 charter company, so he has flown “the system” from dirt strips to the busiest airports in the U.S. He has experience as both a police pilot and a corporate pilot.
Lanier Flight Center Maintenance Staff
Wes Dale – FAA A&P Licensed Mechanic
Wes came to Lanier Flight Center as a customer, and joined our Maintenance Team while working toward his Private Pilot’s License. His professional experience keeping the fleet running for Delta Airlines comes in handy as he ensures our LFC planes are ready for your next flight.
David Wardlaw – Flight Instructor and A&P in Training
David “Dave” Wardlaw was an Army helicopter pilot, flying Hueys and Blackhawks, from 1982-1995. He started fixed-wing flying and training in 2004 at Lanier Flight Center earning his private, instrument, and single and multi-engine commercial ratings. He became a certified flight instructor (CFI) in 2008 and worked in Florida as a flight …
Greg started out in aviation support by working on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier. Later on, Greg continued in aviation as the line service manager for nine years with the FBO here on the field at KGVL. In addition to being a Gainesville firefighter and EMT, Greg lends invaluable operations support to all of us at LFC. When he is not at the fire station, chances are you will find him here doing what he loves!