Zach Hurst, Chief Flight Instructor
I was introduced to aviation on my 8th birthday when I received a joystick and Flight Simulator on a floppy disk! From my first real flight lesson, I had my sights set on a career in aviation as a flight instructor. That dream became reality at Aero-Tech Services, Inc. in 2008 after completing flight training on the windy plains of Kansas at Hesston College. It’s rewarding for me to help someone achieve a goal in flying that they’ve been eagerly working toward. I love instructing because everyday I get to learn something new about the people, the places, and the planes we fly and pass that knowledge on.
Michael Hornberger, Flight Instructor
Growing up with my father who is an airline pilot, I had many opportunities to travel around the world. But through all of my travels, my favorite part was the flight. Everything from the moment I arrived at the airport to the time I stepped off the airplane amazed me. On his days off we would spend the afternoons at Smoketown Airport watching the airplanes take off and land and tag along for the occasional ride. I became fascinated with how the airplanes worked and decided at a young age that I wanted to be a pilot. The freedom and responsibility that it brings adds an extreme value to the experience. Fast forward to the present day and I am now a Flight Instructor with Aero-Tech Services teaching a new generation of pilots, and pursuing my dream to travel the world flying jets.
Denver Groff, Flight Instructor
Growing up on my family’s dairy farm I had always enjoyed being around machines and had a desire to learn how to operate anything that has an engine from motorcycles to combines. Once I first took the controls on a discovery flight, I knew that airplanes had topped that list of machines. I took the first step in following my dream of becoming a professional pilot by receiving my Bachelor of Science in Aeronautics from Liberty University in 2018. There I completed my Private, Instrument, and Commercial Multi-Engine certificates and ratings before completing my CFI training at Aero-Tech in the Spring of 2019. As a flight instructor I will strive to challenge the student to reach their full potential as a pilot while providing an experience that they will value and enjoy.
James Kocsis (Jimmy), Flight Instructor
My name is Jimmy Kocsis. One Christmas my uncle, who worked for American Airlines, gave me a remote-control F-14 Tomcat and from that day, my fascination with aviation “took off.” My relatives would visit from Europe and when it came time to drop them off at O’Hare International, the noise and smell of jet exhaust would make me feel envious that I wasn’t able to ride on the airplane and see the flight deck. 25 years later I met my wife, who happens to work for Southwest Airlines, and the dream began to become a reality. I started at Aero-Tech Services in 2017 and made it my full-time mission to become a flight instructor. What is most enjoyable about flight instruction is that the learning process is never over and that is provides me the opportunity to pass my enthusiasm of aviation to others.
Andy Fowkes, Flight Instructor
My name is Andy Fowkes. I have been interested in flying for as long as I can remember. My Father flew P-38s in WWII and that was probably the biggest influence that got me interested in aviation. When I graduated from college, I entered the Air Force as a Missile Launch Officer and though I always wanted to learn to fly, life seemed to get in the way. When I moved to Alaska, my wife helped us save enough money for me to get my Private Pilot License and its been non-stop ever since. I earned my Single Engine Sea, and Instrument ratings while living in Alaska, then I finished up my Commercial and Instructor ratings here in Lancaster County with ATS. I have always enjoyed teaching and coaching and being a CFI seems to go right along with that. I am excited to be a part of ATS and to help others earn their wings.
Shaun Thacker, Charter Pilot
I’ve been fascinated with flying for as long as I can remember. At the age of 13 I joined the air cadets in my home country of Wales, with the dream of becoming a fighter pilot like the movie Top Gun. While in air cadets I had the opportunity to experience both a glider and a powered flight. The instructor said I had a natural talent and encouraged me to work towards my Private Certificate. After pleading with my parents and getting a part time job, I was able to solo at the age of 16 and get my license to fly at 17, before I could even drive a car! After graduating high school, I made the decision to move to the United States from Wales and finish my flight training in Florida where it would be more affordable. I spent three years flying and making many memories. I particularly enjoyed a flight to the Bahamas! This is also where I meet my wife Angie. After a few years of traveling, we settled down in her hometown of Mechanicsburg and I finished my CFI training right here at Aero-Tech Services, Inc. I never really imagined myself being a teacher, but it’s a great feeling to listen, guide and help people along the same path I had to travel down.
Matt Kauffman, Chief of Operations
As a child I was fascinated with anything motorized, especially with the airplanes that would fly over our house. After my first flight lesson in an Aeronca Champ I knew I wanted to learn how to fly. I did most of my flight training right here at Aero-Tech Services including ATP and Helicopter ratings. I began flying professionally in 1994 and after a short time in corporate aviation and another season as an airline pilot I’ve been flying at Aero-Tech Services since 2000. I appreciate the value that aviation brings to the lives of so many and I enjoy the challenges and adventure of traveling to new destinations. I am thrilled to be a part of helping our customers and employees achieve new milestones in their aviation journey.
Nathan Bagge, Charter Pilot
The ability to bring distant people and places within reach, the opportunity to experience a perspective we’ve had for only a little more than a century, the thrill and satisfaction of operating a unique piece of machinery: these are all reasons many of us enjoy flying and I’m no exception. I was first introduced to airplanes through repeated travel to and from my childhood home in Kenya. As a kid, I loved driving any kind of vehicle I could get my hands on. This and plenty of exposure to airplanes led me to pursue a career in aviation which started with training at Letourneau University. Since then, I’ve worked as a pilot and/or aircraft mechanic in rural Alaska, Washington, Virginia, and now Pennsylvania with Aero-Tech. I love the rewards and challenges flying provides and seeing firsthand how an invention like the airplane can serve both our local and global community.
Derlyn Martin, Charter Pilot
My name is Derlyn and I was born and raised in beautiful Lancaster County! When I was in my early 20’s I volunteered with an international mission organization that gave me the opportunity to travel around the world. Through my travels I noticed a great need for airplanes and pilots to access remote areas that have no road systems. Upon returning home from that educational experience I soon began my training here at Aero-Tech Services, Inc. It has been a wonderful journey working from Private Pilot to Commercial Pilot and now Flight Instructor. During my training at Aero-Tech Services, Inc. I met many wonderful people along the way who shared the same passion as me and they are now serving in places like Brazil, Alaska and Africa! In Spring of 2016 I became part of the ATS team and I am looking forward to helping others to fulfill their dream of becoming a pilot. I feel blessed to be able to share the freedom that being a pilot offers with my students and watching their skills grow with each lesson.
Dale Wintersteen, Charter Pilot
My name is Dale Wintersteen. As a child I always wanted to join the military. After high school, I joined the Army and spent six years active duty with the 101st Airborne Division. Because of my time in the military, I was able to use the GI Bill to pursue my passion for Aviation. My first Discovery Flight was right here in Lancaster County with Aero-Tech Services. I decided to attend Middle Tennessee State University for their Professional Pilot Degree program where I received my Pilot Ratings. After graduation in 2016, I was lucky enough to get hired by Aero-Tech Services as a Charter Pilot and haven’t looked back since. I love being able to do something so few get a chance to do, and providing a great experience for our passengers. Because of this job, I have seen many places I never would have even thought to go. I look forward to seeing where it may take me in the future. I’m proud to provide an enjoyable Charter experience one flight at a time!
Joe Wheatley, Charter Pilot
I have been fascinated with aviation ever since my grandfather took me flying when I was 5. I never really thought much about being a pilot while growing up even though I loved aviation. When applying to college I figured I would take a chance and maybe branch out instead of following in my fathers’ footsteps to become a police officer. I attended Embry-Riddle in Daytona Beach, FL and completed most of my ratings at school. After graduating I spent a few months travelling the country flying survey aircraft for cable companies. I then moved on to working as a supporting crew member at CAE helping clients train and pass checkrides in jet simulators. The summer before starting to work here at ATS, I flew skydivers in NJ. Aero-Tech Services, Inc. is the next step in my aviation career and I look forward to furthering my knowledge and experience with every flight I take.
Alex Burkholder, Charter Pilot
Hello my name is Alex Burkholder, as a native to Lancaster County, I enjoy the opportunity to serve those in the community through aviation. Most people are surprised to hear that I am the youngest of TEN children and also have a twin brother. I was introduced to aviation at a young age since my dad had an airplane as long as I can remember. I enjoyed recreational flying with him as a child and learned the basics of flight from him. I started working on my own license around age 16 at none other than Lancaster Airport. After a few years of flying as a hobby I eventually decided to pursue a career in aviation. My Wife and I moved to Florida for three years to finish my training and build some flying experience. We welcomed our first child, a boy, in Vero Beach Florida in January 2017. We are eagerly awaiting our second to arrive March 2019 at our new home in Newmanstown Pennsylvania. I enjoy working with the team at Aero-Tech and also the unique opportunities and challenges that aviation provides.
Aurel Sila, Charter Pilot
My name is Aurel and I was born in Albania. Over the past 10 years, I have lived in the Middle East, China, Canada, and now the United States. My aviation journey started when I moved to Canada to begin flight training. During my very first lesson I was terrified, but I perservered! Mainly becuase I had already paid for half the semester and the funds were non-refundable! It didn’t take long until I fell in love with flying and was happy I made the decision to stay. While attending school at the Acadamy of Aeronautics, I met my beautiful wife. Since graduating, we relocated to the United States where I look forward to being a part of the team here at Aero-Tech Services, Inc. Flying has always been a dream and passion of mine and I’m grateful for the oppourtunity to make it my career!
Amber Lynn, Office Manager
I am the office manager here at ATS. While working as a bank teller in 2007, one of my customers wearing “Top Gun” sunglasses approached me and asked if I would like to try something different. Having no aviation background, I was a little nervous but found the subject challenging and exciting. I have not been disappointed in my decision! On my very first day I practiced the aviation alphabet and have continued to learn more each day. I truly enjoy the relationships I’ve made here and watching people grow as pilots.
Gabrielle Wotring, Charter Coordinator, Administrative Assistant
My name is Gabrielle Wotring but most people call me Gabby! I became a part of the ATS Team through a Facebook Ad for an Administrative Assistant. Although I didn’t know much about aviation, I thought the position would be a great way to challenge myself and grow as an individual. I feel very lucky to have been given this opportunity and I am learning something new each day. I enjoy sharing my adventures at the airport with my family and look forward to my future here at Aero-Tech Services, Inc.
Kristie Cliff, Accounting
Originally from the Midwest, I moved to Lancaster county with my family in 2011. My husband and I, along with our two children, often find ourselves enjoying one of the many local tourist attractions available in the area. One of our favorites is Indian Echo Caverns! Although I am new to the aviation industry I have been working in finance for years! Most of my work may be behind the scenes, but don’t hesitate to say hello if you see me buried under some papers at the office.