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The primary focus of the David Griffin Aviation Foundation is to provide support to the Rock Hill Flyers, LLC flying club (RHF).  In this unique flying club up to five student pilots are paired with five volunteer certified flight instructors (CFIs). The CFIs provide both flight and ground training at no charge. They also serve as mentors to assist our student pilot members with their goal of earning a Private Pilot’s License. The training aircraft are generously donated by dedicated community members. The plan is to fly weekly, whenever possible, and complete the private pilot requirements within a twelve to eighteen month period.  As student pilot members of RHF become private pilots, new student pilots will be recruited as replacements.


Student pilot applicants for the Rock Hill Flyers flying club are interviewed and selected based on their aviation passion, aptitude, good citizenship, and dedication to achieving their Private Pilot’s License. Additionally, applicants are expected to prove a need for financial help and lack the resources to pay the $18,000+ cost of obtaining a Private Pilot’s License through a commercial flight school.  With the David Griffin Aviation Foundation providing the funding for insurance, maintenance, and operating expenses, the out-of-pocket cost for the student pilot is only for the fuel used during flying lessons, the cost of the FAA medical exam, and their private pilot flight test. For example, a student will normally get an hour of preflight briefing ground school, an hour and a half of dual flight time and a thirty minute de-briefing for about $60. We estimate the total cost to obtain a private license in the Rock Hill Flyers flying club to be under $4,000.

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Cherokee Cruiser, 160hp Lycoming engine, King Radios with Garmin 696 GPS and ADS-B.



Cherokee 140B, 160hp Lycoming engine, Garmin 430 GPS/Comm and ADS-B.



Our second solo and first Private Pilot was Ayden, the first in his family to learn how to fly.  He is a seventeen year old college freshman at York Tech and works part-time as an electrician to help pay for fuel and flight training.  His instructor was retired airline pilot and Air Force Colonel, Sherman Morgan.  A testament to lots of hard work and studying, he passed his PPL checkride in July, 2022!

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Ken Nelson

My dad was a pilot during WWII and introduced me to flying at a young age.  I soloed on my 16th birthday, and after college went to work as a flight instructor and charter pilot.  Later, I flew Learjet’s as a corporate pilot, and B727’s flying freight.  Finally, 37 years ago I began my career as an airline pilot.  Although, I have been a flight instructor for over 44 years, my favorite flying is still teaching young people to fly and introducing them to the opportunities and joy that aviation can bring.

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Gerry McBurney

I started flying at age 14, 51 years ago, and taught my first Private Pilot ground school at age 17.  Currently, I have CFII-MEI Instructor ratings and have given over 4000 hours of flight training as an instructor, with around 30,000 total flight time.  Before becoming an instructor for the David Griffin Aviation Foundation, I served as a Check Airman for several airlines.  In college I studied Meteorology and I have a MA in Adult Education and Distance Learning.

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Louis Kantor

I grew up flying with my dad. I got my private in 1995 and received my CFI, CFII and MEI a few years later in college.  My first airplane was a Zenith 601xl that I built with a friend and finished in 2009. Since then I have owned an RV-7a and currently own part of an ACA Citabria and Cessna 182.  I have been an airline pilot for over 20 years and am currently an Airbus Captain.  I enjoy teaching the young flyers in the David Griffin Aviation Foundation program.

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John Conner

I've been around GA for as long as I can remember.  My father taught me to fly in our 182 as a boy and to fly a tailwheel in our Boeing Stearman.  I've worked as an instructor, corporate pilot, regional airline pilot, and now as a pilot for a major airline.  I've owned and operated an aircraft management company and currently own and operate an aircraft brokerage company. But nothing beats a tailwheel airplane on grass field. CFI, CFII, MEI since 1999.

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Joe Baker

I come from a flying family, going back into the 1920s.  I got into professional flying a little late, having spent more than a decade as a college administrator and adjunct faculty.  I found my instructional niche in the antique airplane/tailwheel world, which I enjoy every bit as much as primary instruction.  I am currently an Airbus Captain based here in Charlotte, where I try to keep a couple of antique airplanes flying.

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Brian Cope

I have enjoyed general aviation since 1994 when I earned my private pilot certificate.  I am presently an instrument rated commercial pilot, certificated flight instructor and aircraft owner.  My true passions are enjoying time with my family and passing along my experiences as a pilot, engineer and Army Officer to the next generation through involvement in the David Griffin Foundation, Cub Scouts and Scouts BSA.

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