Skill is committed to structured, disciplined, and standardized flight training. Our instructors are professional aviators and educators who go through regular, rigorous, recurrent training. Our equipment is top-notch and impeccably maintained. We employ training methods embraced by airline, corporate, and military training organizations. We have first class facilities and 21st century technology using state-of-the-art training tools. We have quality control in our training. Our customer service is second to none. We want you to evolve into a safe, competent, and well rounded pilot capable of handling any situation with sound judgment and excellent decision making skills. We care!
Jim started flying while he was in college at the University of Illinois, earning his Private Pilot certificate in 1986 and becoming a Certified Flight Instructor in 1987. In college Jim competed on, and coached for, the University’s flight team in both regional and national competitions.
After graduating from the U of I and getting his MBA from Indiana University, he moved East and started a successful career in business. He worked for Conrail, buying and selling locomotives and freight cars and arranging complex financial deals, and for Capital One, where he drove information based decision making and financial governance in operational, staff, and business line roles. During this time Jim’s flying took a decade long hiatus. As Capital One became less entrepreneurial, it became less enjoyable, so in 2006, Jim resigned and started focusing on getting back into two areas of passion, flying and photography. He also moved back to the Chicago area and re-started his Flight Instructing career, with Skill Aviation.
There isn’t a day that goes by where Jim regrets switching from a desk to a cockpit. The experience of returning to flying after a long hiatus, gives him a unique perspective on those undertaking the same effort.
Jim served as Chief Flight Instructor at Skill Aviation from 2009 through March 2016. In 2015 he was named one of 11 outstanding flight instructors in the country in the AOPA Flight Training Excellence Awards, named to the Honor Roll in 2016, and a Distinguished Flight Instructor in 2017. Jim is a certified airline transport pilot, flight instructor, instrument instructor, and multi-engine instructor with over 4,000 hours dual given and 5,000 hours total time.
Matt wanted to become a pilot ever since he could remember. He began learning to fly at the age of 15, and completed his private pilot’s license at 17. He went on to attend Purdue University, studying aviation and business. After several years away from flying, Matt obtained his CFI certificate and started instructing at Skill Aviation.
Kilian Bartsch is a flight instructor with 18 years of flying experience. Kilian learned to fly at Chicago Executive Airport (KPWK) while attending university and has been involved in aviation ever since. One of his favorite destinations is at 46°32'25"N, 9°53'31"E.
Kilian earned a degree in Industrial Engineering and Management Sciences from Northwestern University, and holds FAA airline transport pilot, flight instructor, instrument instructor, and multi-engine instructor certificates. He also speaks fluent German.
John is an aviation professional committed to helping his students become safe and knowledgeable pilots. He leverages his experience from leading diverse teams into flight education. He builds on each student's individual background to help them understand aviation concepts.
John earned his Private Pilot certificate in 2014, and became a flight instructor shortly afterward. He holds a Certified Flight Instructor - Instrument certificate. Along with instructing, he and his wife particularly appreciate the unique freedom of flying on cross-country trips. They enjoy all the destinations and experiences that flying allows them to discover and enjoy!
John holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Wisconsin – Madison, and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Chicago. John designed cell phones and led engineering teams at a major manufacturer before pursuing his interest in Aviation. John's volunteer activities includes the Boy Scouts as an adult leader where he led wilderness backpacking trips, winter camping, and also won outdoor cooking competitions. He is also active in a local amateur radio emergency services organization.
Growing up, Sandy spent many hours looking up at the sky, wondering what it would be like to fly a plane. It wasn’t until her sophomore year in college that she decided to take an introductory flight and find out for herself. She immediately fell in love with aviation and began flight training after graduating from college in 1992. Like many pilots, she would occasionally stop training in order to meet the responsibilities of family, work and finances, but never gave up her dream of becoming an instructor. After several years, she completed her training and has been teaching ever since.
Sandy has a degree in psychology from Loyola University in Chicago, and has been instructing at Skill Aviation for the last nine years. She enjoys passing on her love for flying to new students in the hopes of helping them fulfill their dream of becoming a pilot.
Skip is an aviation industry professional adept in the operations and management of aircraft services including maintenance, sales, charter, and flight training. With nearly three decades of general aviation experience, Skip has a unique combination of organizational, technical, sales, and managerial talents.
Skip earned his private pilot certificate while in college in 1986 and has been an active flight instructor since 1988. After a successful career in the aerospace industry as a sales engineer and product manager, Skip followed his passions of business and aviation and launched his own flight training and aircraft services business in 2005. He is responsible for the company’s successful culture and steady growth. Because of his commitment to his employees, customer service, professionalism, and value, Skill Aviation is recognized as the leading flight training institution in the region.
Skip earned a Bachelor of Science Degree from Western Michigan University and a Master of Science Degree from Illinois Institute of Technology. He is an FAA certificated airline transport pilot and flight instructor. As a testament to his character, experience, and integrity, Skip was selected and authorized as an FAA Designated Pilot Examiner in 2007.
Matt has been a pilot for over a decade. His love for aviation and desire to share it with others led to him to earning a certified flight instructor certificate in 2007. With nearly 1000 hours of flight time that includes aerobatic and tailwheel experience, Matt is a part-time instructor for Skill Aviation and holds instrument and multi-engine instructor certificates. A graduate of Northern Illinois University with a degree in physics, he works as an acoustical engineer for Shure, Inc. His latest challenge is building a Vans RV-7 kit plane, which provides him the opportunity to combine his engineering interests with his passion for flying. Matt became a father in April 2014 and he cannot wait for his son to be old enough for his first flying lesson!
Nancy joined Skill Aviation in Jan 2010 as a dispatcher. Prior to joining Skill Aviation, Nancy proudly served 8 years in the United States Navy, as a Hospital Corpsman. Her distinguished Naval career included being stationed on the now retired aircraft carrier, USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67). Nancy earned a Bachelor’s Degree, with honors, from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Technical Operations, Minoring in Aviation Safety. She also earned her Private Pilot Certificate in Jacksonville, FL.
Patrick started instructing at Skill Aviation in June of 2013 as a full time instructor and fleet technician after graduating from Southern Illinois University Carbondale. He left SIUC with his CFI and A&P. Currently Patrick works for the Baxter International Corp. flight department as an Flight Mechanic, where he has been traveling the world on Gulfstream G450. He works part-time at Skill either flying or helping maintain the fleet. He is currently working on obtain his CFII and MEI. In his free time he enjoys mountain biking, dirt biking and restoring his 1972 Triumph Trophy.
Greg began his aviation career at the age of 16 while flying gliders in the Civil Air Patrol as a cadet. Flying gliders taught him to be thorough, disciplined, and safe (you only get one chance to land a glider). Since then he has gone on to volunteer as a check pilot for the Civil Air Patrol. In addition to providing instruction, he ensures that their pilots meet C.A.P. and F.A.A. standards. Greg was an instructor at a local college training professional career pilots for advanced certificates and ratings. In addition to Greg’s aviation experience, he also has a professional background in design and engineering. Greg’s passion is flying and he is eager to share that passion with others.
Greg has over 1500 hours of experience working with students from ages 14 to 67 in both single and multi-engine aircraft. Some of his previous students have distinguished careers with the U.S. Air Force, airlines, and corporate flight departments.
James began flying in Virginia in 1993. After instructing in a variety of single and multi engine airplanes in Florida, he began flying Canadair Regional Jets for an airline. When not instructing at Skill Aviation, James works in the software industry and also teaches scuba diving. He holds a Bachelor’s degree from Embry-Riddle and a Master’s from DePaul.
Ed has worked at Skill Aviation since he was 14 years old (2008) cleaning airplanes and sweeping the floors. He has grown to be an invaluable asset to the organization, capable of handling many important tasks including detailing/servicing aircraft, and keeping the flight line safe, organized, and operational. Ed served our country from 2012 - 2018 as a sergeant in the Army National Guard in the 1-105th Cavalry Regiment, 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team. He is currently enrolled in the professional pilot program at Gateway Community College in Kenosha, WI.
Ryan’s passion for aviation started when he was young building radio controlled airplanes with his grandfather. He followed this passion after graduating from Colorado State University by heading to Everett, Washington to work for Boeing on the 777 program. While at Boeing Ryan discovered a new passion for teaching while working weekends for the Boeing Employees’ Ski Club as an instructor. There is nothing more rewording than being able to share his passion and teaching someone a new skill and watching their excitement grow as they master new skills. Ryan moved on from aviation and into the marine industry with Bayliner and then Sea Ray Boats. He moved to Tennessee where he met his wife Kristi. Ryan left his Engineering Manager Position at Sea Ray when Kristi’s career brought them to the Chicago area in 2010. In 2011 Kristi and their dogs (no human children) surprised Ryan with a bag of pilot supplies and a certificate saying go and get your Private Pilot Certificate. In 2012 Ryan received his Private Pilot Certificate and started working on his Instrument rating at Skill Aviation. Fast forward to Oshkosh 2016 and a meeting with the Chairman of the National Flight Instructors, Ryan decided it was time to leave his 20 years in manufacturing behind and follow his two passions of teaching and flying. In May of 2017 Ryan received his CFI rating and has never looked back.
When Ryan isn’t instructing he enjoys going on RV adventures with Kristi and their dogs Aslan and Tucker, boating, and riding their tandem mountain bike.
After Josh's first visit to Airventure he had always wanted to fly, but he followed a more traditional path and went to college. Graduating college he went to work in his field. Following 2 years of a stable career, Josh realized that his true calling was in Aviation. He quit his job and went to Florida to get all the airplane licenses he could. After a year and a half of training at Aviator College of Aeronautical Science and Technology, Josh achieved his CFI, CFII, and MEI ratings. He moved back home and looked for the best flight schools in the area to work at. Skill Aviation was the obvious choice, and now Josh is training pilots at Skill to be the best pilots they can be.
A pilot since 2002, Auste earned her CFI, CFII, and MEI certifications with ATP Flight School in Daytona Beach, FL in 2003 and subsequently moved to Japan with her family where she worked for the Kadena Aero Club as a flight instructor. Flying between beautiful tropical islands across the Western Pacific (and occasionally dodging typhoons), Auste instructed student pilots in Japan for three years before returning to the United States.
Married to a U.S. Marine, Auste took a break from flying in 2007 to raise two children and live overseas with her family in the Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa and East Asia. Auste has since returned to flying and joined the Skill Aviation team.
Auste is a graduate of the Virginia Military Institute (Class of ’02) and holds a Masters of Aeronautical Science from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University as well as a Masters of Education from George Mason University.