Our Team of Pilots

Every product is tested and approved by these guys

Sporty’s was founded by a pilot over 55 years ago, and from the beginning our company has been for pilots and by pilots. Our broad experience and passion for aviation makes us uniquely qualified to offer only the finest, most unique aviation products. Before we sell a new product, every one is rigorously tested by our team of pilots in the real world of general aviation airplanes. They use products just like you would (and that means no instruction manuals!). If our panel doesn’t think a product is useful, easy-to-use and reliable, we simply won’t sell it.

 

Meet our product review team 


Bret Koebbe

Ratings

Airline Transport Pilot, Cessna Citation Type Rating, Flight Instructor, Instrument Flight Instructor, Master Flight Instructor

Title

Vice President, Video—Sporty's Academy

As Sporty’s top video producer, Bret is usually flying an interesting airplane, and often with a camera rolling. "I enjoy a mix of both professional and recreational flying at Sporty’s. When instructing, I specialize in Technically Advanced Aircraft, and help pilots make the most WAAS approaches. And for fun I love taking Sporty’s 1963 Aztec out." Bret is also known as "Mr. iPad" at Sporty’s, and is the lead tester for the latest apps and accessories for mobile devices.


Charlie Masters

Ratings

Commercial Pilot, Multi-engine, Instrument Rating, Flight Instructor, Instrument Flight Instructor, Multi-engine Flight Instructor "My license says English Proficient, but my Senior English teacher, Lynda McKee, might take exception to that."

Title

Vice President, Sales - Sporty's Academy & Eastern Cincinnati Aviation

Charlie learned to fly in college, and has been an avid pilot ever since. He has visited every public-use airport in most of Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia, "including the expansive 12,000 ft runways of Columbus Rickenbacker (KLCK) and the 24 ft. wide, dogleg right, one way in/same way out, Mallory Airport (WV12) in Charleston." Charlie manages the customer experience and sales for Sporty's Academy & Eastern Cincinnati Aviation, but his most memorable flight was in a rented Skyhawk over the active Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii.


Chris Clarke

Ratings

Commercial Pilot, Multi-Engine, Instrument Rating

Title

Media & Content Coordinator—Sporty's Academy

Having a childhood dream of aviation, Chris first became an Aviation Explorer, which motivated him to earn his private pilot's license as a teenager. During his four years at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University he earned his commercial, multi-engine certificate with an instrument rating. While experimenting in seaplanes, gliders, and a variety of other personal aircraft, Chris developed a passion for general aviation and shares that passion as he develops aviation training apps and content for Sporty’s Pilot Shop. He's also an experienced drone pilot.


Chris McGonegle

Ratings

Commercial Pilot, Instrument Rating

Title

Product Manager-Sporty's Pilot Shop

Chris caught the aviation bug at the age of seven when he was able to sit in the cockpit of a 737 between flight legs thanks to his aunt working at a large airline. Countless balsa wood flyers and multi stage rockets later he enrolled in the Aviation Technology Program at UC and successfully turned a fascination into a career. "One of my most memorable flights was flying my dad to a local airport with a restaurant just off the ramp known for their generously portioned ribs. I'll never forget that day with passenger #1." As the Product Manager at Sporty's Pilot Shop, Chris is tasked with identifying, testing, and bringing to market new products to service the growing pilot population. "At the end of the day I search for the latest and greatest tools to help pilots fly, and ensure I keep our quality standards high. I also volunteer to test them in the cockpit. It's a tough job.... but someone has to do it."


Chuck Gallagher

Ratings

Multi-Engine, Instrument Rating, FAA Repairman Certificate

Title

President - Cincinnati Avionics

President - Eastern Cincinnati Aviation

Chuck holds the record at Sporty’s for fastest flight training program—he earned his Recreational Certificate in just two weeks. He later added a Private Certificate, plus Multi-engine and Instrument ratings. Today, he enjoys recreational flying more than anything, "whether it’s a morning flight for breakfast at a nearby airport or a trip with the family." Chuck is the airport manager for I69 and is also the President of Cincinnati Avionics, Sporty’s on-site avionics shop. His expertise in aviation electronics is invaluable in developing and testing new products, from portable radios to ADS-B Out transponders.


Doug Ranly

Ratings

Private Pilot, Instrument Rating

Title

Catalog Manager—Sporty’s Pilot Shop

Doug flies because it’s fun – pure and simple. One of his favorite rituals is to get up at the crack of dawn and and go flying to find a greasy spoon at one of the many airport cafes around Sporty’s. “There’s nothing better than eating biscuits and gravy at a restaurant 70 miles away before starting your day,” says Doug. His airplane of choice is a G1000-equipped Cessna 172S. He is also Sporty’s most active product tester, and as an Eagle Scout and a US Army veteran, his standards are high. “I believe a product should work the first time right out of the box, and preferably without instructions.”


Eric Carnahan

Ratings

Commercial Pilot, Multi-Engine, Instrument Rating, Flight Instructor, Instrument Flight Instructor, Multiengine Instructor

Title

Ask A Pilot Expert - Customer Service

Eric has always been interested in flying, and his father paid to have he and his brother go up in a Cessna. He started with control line aircraft and then progressed to building and flying radio controlled aircraft. After retiring from the Navy he decided that it was time to learn to fly real aircraft. His only regret is that he did not learn sooner. The real pleasure of flying for Eric is flying Young Eagles for the EAA's Young Eagles program. Nothing gives him more satisfaction than taking a young person up for their first GA flight. Now he feels lucky to work at Sporty's.


Eric Radtke

Ratings

Airline Transport Pilot, Cessna Citation Type Rating, Boeing 727 SIC Qualification, Flight Instructor, Instrument Flight Instructor, Advanced Ground Instructor, Master Flight Instructor

Title

President - Sporty's Academy

It was his first airplane trip at age seven that made Eric decide to become a pilot. "While boarding the airplane, a flight attendant noticed my interest in the flight deck and urged me to go talk to the pilot. I give a lot of credit to that pilot for my career choice." He learned to fly at Sporty’s as part of the University of Cincinnati’s Professional Pilot Program, an initiative he now directs. He earned a bachelor’s degree in finance and went on to an airline career. Eric now heads Sporty’s flight school and directs the University of Cincinnati’s Professional Pilot Training Program. In addition, Eric serves as a Captain in Sporty’s corporate flight department.


Hal Shevers

Ratings

Airline Transport Pilot, Cessna Citation Type Rating, Instrument Flight Instructor, Member of the Flight Instructor Hall of Fame

Title

Founder/Chairman - Sporty's Pilot Shop

Hal founded Sporty’s over 50 years ago as a young flight instructor, and he’s been flying and teaching aviation ever since. In the mid-1960s, he pioneered the three day ground school, and spent many years traveling the country teaching pilots to earn their instrument rating. Along the way, he logged thousands of hours in Sporty’s famous red Piper Aztec. Today, with over 12,000 hours in the logbook, Hal still enjoys flying over 200 hours per year. “Some of my most enjoyable hours have been spent in airplanes, and it is this passion that drives the whole Sporty’s team.”


J.C. Mayerle

Ratings

Recreational Pilot

Title

Director of Digital Marketing & UX

 J.C. learned to fly at Sporty’s Academy after graduating from the University of Cincinnati, Lindner College of Business. His father is an ATP and A&P/IA, so he's been flying in and working on airplanes with his dad since he was old enough to hand him a wrench. J.C. has worked at Sporty’s for over 5 years and says he loves every minute of it.


John Zimmerman

Ratings

Commercial Pilot, Multi-engine, Instrument Rating, Helicopter Rating, Glider Rating, Seaplane Rating

Title

Vice President, Catalog Division - Sporty's Pilot Shop

 John was a Sporty’s customer before he was an employee, learning to fly at a neighboring airport in Cincinnati and regularly attending Sporty’s famous hot dog cookouts. Today, he enjoys flying just about anything with wings—fixed or rotary. He regularly uses airplanes for cross-country transportation, for both business and pleasure. “I love the challenge of IFR flying in the system. It’s both challenging and immensely rewarding to manage the aircraft systems, ATC and the changing weather. Seeing the runway lights as you break out on an approach is a thrill.”


Mark Wiesenhahn

Ratings

Recreational Pilot

Title

Vice President, Business Relations / Marketing - Sporty's Pilot Shop

Mark Wiesenhahn is a vice president at Sporty’s, where he has worked for the past 25 years. In addition to his administrative duties managing Sporty’s dealers and vendors and directing media relations and trade show participation, Mark works closely with Sporty’s partnerships within the industry including AOPA and EAA. He is actively involved in promoting Aviation Exploring and has been an Exploring advisor for 20 years. He serves on the Executive Committee of Learning for Life Organization as the Exploring Chair. Mark is a recreational pilot.


Michael Wolf

Ratings

Commercial Pilot, Multi-Engine, Instrument Rating, Cessna Citation Type Rating, Glider Rating

Title

President & CEO

Michael has worked at Sporty’s for over 46 years, so he knows both Sporty’s and the aviation industry quite well. A pilot for over 35 years, aviation is Michael’s first love: “I just can’t imagine life without airplanes.” While he flies a Citation regularly, most of his time is spent in the left seat of Sporty’s Aztec. “It’s a joy to fly an airplane that’s over 50 years old, but one that’s been meticulously maintained. It’s like stepping back in time, but I still get excellent utility out of it, for both family trips and business.”


Paul Jurgens

Ratings

Airline Transporter Pilot, Seaplane Rating, Flight Instructor, Instrument Flight Instructor, Multi-engine Flight Instructor, Glider Instructor, Instrument Ground Instructor, Advanced Ground Instructor, Master Flight Instructor, Master Ground Instructor

Title

Vice President, Publications - Sporty's Pilot Shop

Paul is a true aviation educator, and one of only a handful of flight instructors in the world to have earned both the Master Flight Instructor and Master Ground Instructor certifications. “I really enjoy teaching, especially in the Aztec.” Paul also teaches several classes at the University of Cincinnati’s Professional Pilot program, including weather theory. When he’s not teaching, you’ll find Paul flying an Aztec or a Cessna 182 for personal transportation.

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