Hempel1SAFE#: 0257

Hometown: Spicewood, TX

Home Airport: KBMQ

Occupation: Professional Pilot, Flight Instructor

Education: B.S. Medical Sciences, St. Louis University, St. Louis, MO


Airplanes Flying/Flown: Most all SEL, C-120, PA-18, Husky, RV-6, RV-4, PA-34, BE-55, BE-58, C401-402, MU-2, BE-20, C90A/B/E, BE400A, CL-604/605.

Educational Specialty: PVT and INST instruction

Q & A

What drew you to aviation? I was working as a PA for an orthopedic surgeon who had an A-36. He was an excellent pilot and offered to pay for my PPL since we had no “long term” benefits, i.e., no retirement plan. Little did he know that it would lead to a complete career change for me!How long have you been involved in aviation education? Since 2002.

What’s your favorite part of what you do in aviation education? Watching the smile that comes across the student’s face when he/she first “gets it” or has that “ah ha!” moment. Their first solo ranks up there in the favorite part too!

What’s your least favorite part of what you do in aviation education? Paperwork and IACRA.

Do you have a memorable aviation experience you’d like to share? Wow, there are so many, but when it comes to explaining why people should do tailwheel training, I tell them that I’ve never laughed and cursed so much at the same time than when learning to fly the Cessna 120. My first seaplane lesson left an indelible smile, too.

Why did you join SAFE? I believe SAFE is bringing a new level of professionalism and pride to being an aviation educator.

What would you like to see change in aviation? As a professional pilot and educator who has struggled to make ends meet in the past, I think it’s important to make a stand for improved industry wages for flight instructors and entry-level career pilots. I believe that flight instruction can be a reasonable career goal, and one that may stand the test of ebb and flow in the aviation industry. I spend a good amount of time talking to newly licensed COMM pilots about why they shouldn’t fly for free, as well as new flight instructors on how to determine their hourly rate/worth.

Any suggestions on how the above might be accomplished? Lead by example and stand up for what you know to be your value and expertise.

Any accomplishments in or noteworthy contributions to aviation and/or aviation education you’d like to mention? Two-time Amelia Earhart Scholarship Winner (1998 & 2006) awarded by the 99s. FAA Safety Team Representative, SAT FSDO.

Who are your role models in aviation? All of my past flight instructors. Also, Doug Rozendaal at KMCW; Bill Earnest at 88R; & Ken Wittekiend at KBMQ.