Meet the ASI Team

ASI is committed to reducing General Aviation mishaps by providing free educational resources and supporting initiatives that improve General Aviation safety and grow the pilot population.  

The Air Safety Institute serves all pilots—not just AOPA members—by providing free safety education programs to pilots and flight instructors, analyzing safety data, and conducting safety research. Pilots throughout the world rely on the products from ASI to be safer and better informed.

The Air Safety Institute, a division of the AOPA Foundation, was formerly the AOPA Air Safety Foundation. Since 1950, the GA accident rate has decreased by 90 percent—due in large part to the safety education provided to pilots by the Foundation. ASI serves GA in many ways, most notably with its education, and also its research that analyzes and categorizes more than three decades of GA accidents and fatalities. From award-wining online courses to in-person seminars, flight instructor renewal courses, and much more, take a look at all ASI has to offer. The programs are made possible by generous contributions to the AOPA Foundation from pilots like you.

George Perry, Senior Vice President

ASI StaffGeorge joined the Air Safety Institute team in September 2014. He comes to AOPA with a diverse background both in general aviation and military aviation. In addition to being an active GA pilot since the age of 16, he recently completed a 20-year career in the U.S. Navy as an F-18E squadron commanding officer. 

During George’s career in the Navy he held numerous senior aviation safety leadership positions including Director, F-14 Tomcat fleet safety programs, Safety Director in both Carrier Air Wing Seven and Three, as well as  F-18E Super Hornet carrier pilot training manager.

In addition to being an F-18 and F-14 pilot instructor and check pilot, George has over 850 carrier-arrested landings, holds ATP, CFII, and MEI certificates, has logged over 5000 hours and currently owns a Mooney M20S. George’s educational background includes a bachelor’s degree in Aeronautical Science from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, an MBA from the Naval Post Graduate School in Monterey, California, and is also a graduate of the U.S. Navy’s Aviation Safety School.

Kristen Bodnar, Project Manager

ASI Staff MemberKristen joined the ASI production team in June 2014, where she is responsible for the project coordination, development, and management of many of ASI’s educational safety programs and services, such as interactive online courses, quizzes, live safety seminars, webinars, and video productions.

Prior to joining ASI, Kristen worked in AOPA’s Communications department, where she supported media relations and outreach activities. Kristen has previously worked as a contractor for the FAA’s Aviation Weather Division where she supported weather integration into air traffic control tools.

Kristen earned her private pilot certificate in 2012. She is a graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Applied Meteorology and minor in Professional Communication. She is also currently pursuing an MBA in Aviation through Embry-Riddle. Her hobbies include flying, fishing, and competing in triathlons.

John Collins, Manager, Aviation Safety Programs

ASI Staff Member

John Collins is the Chief Flight instructor for the Flight Instructor Refresher Courses (both in-person and online) and is responsible for the in-person seminar program.

John began working at AOPA in July 1998 in the Pilot Information Center as a Research Assistant. Prior to joining the Air Safety Institute, he was the Manager of Airport Policy for AOPA. He holds Commercial Pilot and CFI certificates. In his 20 years of aviation experience, he has flight instructed, flown Search & Rescue missions and charter flights, and worked as a line service specialist. He has logged over 2,100 hours of flight time and more than 1,300 hours of dual instruction given.

John has a bachelor’s degree in Aviation Management and Flight Operations from the University of Dubuque. He is a US Army veteran and served as a tank platoon leader in Desert Storm and as a supply company executive officer in Somalia during Operation Restore Hope. In his "spare time," John volunteers as a Scoutmaster and enjoys hammock camping, backpacking, and hiking. He is married, has two teenage children, and resides with his family in wild, wonderful West Virginia.

Paul Deres, Director, Education

ASI Staff Member

Paul oversees the Air Safety Institute’s production team that is responsible for creating content for online courses, safety videos, seminars, and more, as well as staying up on all the latest trends in learning strategies, technologies, and tools. He also represents ASI at various industry and government meetings.

Paul received a bachelor’s degree in missionary aviation from Piedmont International University (formerly Piedmont Bible College) where he earned most of his pilot certificates and ratings, including and his airframe and powerplant certificates. Prior to joining AOPA in 2004, Paul was an active flight instructor and retail manager in the furniture industry in North Carolina. He also has an executive certificate in business administration from the University of Notre Dame, and is a U.S. Army veteran.

Karen Hemenway, Administrative Assistant

ASI Staff Member

Karen joined AOPA in March of 2015 as a part time Administrative Assistant to ASI, where she assists in pre-processing of Certified Flight Instructors and responding to questions regarding AOPA’s eFIRC Program as well as other various duties. Recently she has added to her duties by accepting a full time position that includes Prospect Research Specialist to provide the Foundation with information management and donor prospect research.

Prior to AOPA, she worked for an Architectural Engineering firm as a Construction Administration Assistant. With a background as an Avionics Technician in the U.S. Navy, she has had many experiences in aviation and safety.

David Kenny, Manager, Safety Analysis

ASI Staff MemberDavid Jack Kenny analyzes GA accident data to target ASI’s safety education programs while also supporting AOPA’s ongoing initiatives and assisting other departments in responding to breaking developments. David maintains ASI’s accident database and regularly writes articles for ePilot, Flight School Business, Flight Training, CFI-to-CFI, and other publications. He’s the primary author of the Nall Report and other ASI research studies, but none of that keeps him away from the hangar for long.  He is presently rated for single-engine, multiengine, and instrument airplane and is closing in on 1,900 hours of flight time.  He uses his 1967 Piper Arrow to make rescue flights for Pilots N Paws, give introductory flights at Learn-to-Fly Day and Women Fly It Forward, and occasionally just for fun. David holds a commercial pilot’s certificate and advanced degrees in statistics.

Bob Knill, Aviation Technical Writer

ASI Staff MemberBob is primarily focused on producing many of ASI’s educational safety videos and helping with visual media for ASI’s online courses. He brings experience in editorial photography and videography, as well as a technical background as a systems administrator to the Institute. Bob holds a single-engine seaplane rating and a single-engine airplane rating with instrument privileges.

Prior to joining ASI, Bob worked as a network administrator for the AOPA I&T department and previously served as an aeromedical evacuation technician on C130 aircraft in the Air National Guard for the 167TH AW in Martinsburg, WV. 

Bruce Landsberg, Senior Safety Advisor

ASI Staff MemberBruce Landsberg has led AOPA’s safety initiatives for more than 22 years. During his tenure, the organization has been nationally recognized with numerous awards for aviation safety leadership and educational program excellence.

Bruce writes the monthly “Safety Pilot” column in AOPA Pilot magazine, as well as a popular weekly blog in AOPA ePilot. He represents general aviation interests with the FAA, NTSB, National Weather Service, collegiate aviation programs, and various industry groups.

A former U.S. Air Force officer, he holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master's degree in industrial technology from the University of Maryland.

Bruce has logged more than 6,000 hours as an airline transport pilot (ATP) and holds gold seal flight instructor certificates. He has been an AOPA member for more than 40 years.

Tyler Pangborn, Videographer

ASI Staff MemberTyler joined the ASI team in August 2015 as a videographer. He is responsible for the creation of ASI’s safety videos.

Prior to joining ASI, Tyler worked as an aerial photographer/remote sensor operator for Richard Crouse & Associates at the Frederick airport, and before that, as an assistant video producer with High Rock Studios in Hagerstown, MD. He brings several years of video production experience with him, as well as over 40 hours of flight time as a student pilot. He is planning to earn his private pilot certificate very soon.

Tyler graduated from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, with a bachelor’s degree in Visual Arts. He currently resides in Hagerstown, MD with his wife and daughter. 

Robin Sharitz, Program Specialist

ASI Staff MemberRobin has worked with ASI since 1989 and oversees the logistics of ASI’s nationwide safety seminars and in-person Flight Instructor Refresher Course (FIRC), which includes finding locations, booking facilities, and coordinating seminar presenter and FIRC instructor schedules and resources. Robin also works with seminar attendees and FIRC customers to maintain a high degree of satisfaction for both programs.  Additionally, she assists ASI’s chief flight instructor on other safety and FIRC-related projects.  Robin attended Frederick Community College for business administration.

Machteld Alexandra Smith, Aviation Technical Writer

ASI Staff MemberMachteld writes and develops content for ASI’s safety education programs, including ASI’s online courses, newsletters, and publications. Before joining ASI, she was a Senior Editor for AOPA Pilot and managing AOPA’s Airport Directory.

Born in Wellington, New Zealand, and of Dutch nationality before coming to the U.S, she studied journalism and traveled the world as a KLM (Royal Dutch Airlines) stewardess on DC-8s and -9s. Among the first 100 recreational pilots in early 1991, Machteld currently holds a commercial certificate, with single- and multiengine instrument and single-engine seaplane ratings.

Flights trumping her airline career: piloting a C172 in to and out of Leadville, Colorado; flying a Piper Tripacer on floats around Alaska’s Mount McKinley and Denali’s glaciers; and earning her tailwheel signoff in a Citabria.

Kathleen Vasconcelos, Vice President Education and Operations

ASI Staff MemberKathleen is responsible for day-to-day operations of the Air Safety Institute, from the production of training courses and seminars to oversight of the accident database. Prior to joining the Foundation she worked in AOPA’s Media Relations department where she communicated AOPA’s message to the media and general public. Kathleen is a commercial pilot with instrument and multiengine ratings, and an instrument-rated flight instructor. She holds a degree in Aeronautical Science from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and a degree in Communication Studies from University of Maryland University College.