Our Instructors

SaltAir works in close relationship with these top-notch instructors. They are all independent instructors with their own specialties and talents. If you want to learn to fly, you have come to the right place to find the best instructors around! Contact us today to start your journey!

CFII MEI| Tom Shamel

Tom Shamel is a Multi-engine, Single engine, and Instrument Certified Flight Instructor. He has been flying since 2012 and earned his Flight Instructor certificates in 2018 through ATP flight school. Tom started by using at home flight simulators and is still an active VATSIM member. Tom has experience flying Multi-engine Aircraft, and flights on long cross countries. He is our full time instructor.

Active AOPA member.

Instruction available with Tom at Hickory Regional Airport as well as Foothills Regional Airport.

Contact Tom

CFII | Bill Dobson

CFI, CFII. Single-engine Land and Sea. Technically Advanced Aircraft a specialty.
Retired College Professor and Scientist. With 25 years teaching experience, I have the skills to tailor your aviation education and training to your needs and learning style.

5000+ hours PIC flight experience, 2000+ hours flight instructor time. Active member of AOPA, EAA, NAFI, NIFA, SAFE. Owner Cirrus SR20 N508JS.

Instruction available with Bill at Hickory Regional Airport as well as Foothills Regional Airport.

Contact Bill

CFII MEI| Charlie Self

Has over 40 years of aviation experience including 21 years of service in USAFR retiring as Major, Vietnam veteran, EC-47, T-29 and C-130 pilot. Civilian experiences include Director of Operations, Chief Pilot, and Examiner for air charter operations, corporate pilot and airline pilot. FAA ratings include Airline Transport Pilot, Flight Engineer and Multi-engine, Instrument Certified Flight Instructor with over 16,000 hrs total time.

Specialties: Corporate Jet Pilot, Chief Pilot, DO and Forestry Service Patrol Pilot.

Instruction available with Charlie at Hickory Regional Airport as well as Foothills Regional Airport.

Contact Charlie

CFII | David Barbour

David Barbour has 17.5 years of flying experience with over 2,200 hours of flight time. He has been a flight instructor for 10 years with 1,600+ hours of teaching. He holds a Certified Flight Instructor – Instrument (CFII) license, and has experience in tail wheels, high performance, complex, standard and light sport planes, glass instruments, and aerial photography. David also specializes in aerobatic training and has conducted spin training as well as advanced stall training for pilots.

Instruction available with David at Hickory Regional Airport as well as Foothills Regional Airport.

Contact David

CFII | Ben Shelton

Ben Shelton, CFI, CFI-I with 5 years of aviation experience and a degree from the Walker College of Business at App State. Growing up on the farm in the mountains led me to be a diesel and auto technician, but I always looked to the sky with amazement when those machines flew overhead. When a friend introduced me to his flight instructor, I took a discovery flight and was hooked! I never imagined that day would lead to an instructor rating, but here I am. I hope to share my joy and passion for flying with anyone who looks to the skies with excitement!

Ben is also an AOPA and NAFI member.

Instruction available with Ben at Hickory Regional Airport as well as Foothills Regional Airport.

Contact Ben

CFI | Matthew Lord

Matthew Lord started flying in 2007 and joined CCC&TI aviation program. Earned my PPL in 2008. I graduated in 2010 from CCC&TI with an Associates Degree in Aviation Management. Earned my instrument rating in 2011 and Commercial ASEL license in 2012. Earned my Commercial AMEL license in 2015. Graduated from the Walker College of Business at Appalachian State University in 2016 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management. Earned my Certified Flight Instructor license in 2018. I have experience complex aircraft as well as high performance aircraft.

Instruction available with Matthew at Hickory Regional Airport as well as Foothills Regional Airport.

Contact Matthew

CFII MEI| Christopher Shepherd

Christopher Shepherd teaches during the week at ATP Flight School in Concord, NC. Chris prefers the Part 61 atmosphere for private pilot training and is looking for students in Hickory on weekends! He is extremely knowledgeable with the Piper Archer III and is ready to take some students to the next level of Instrument Rating.

Instruction available with Chris at Hickory Regional Airport.

Contact Chris

CFII MEI| Brandon NeSmith

Brandon NeSmith, owner and operator of Table Rock Aviation LLC, is a seasoned flight instructor with +3000 hours in over 40 types of aircraft ranging from the High Performance Pitts Special to the World War II Piper Cub primary trainer.

Instruction available with Brandon at Hickory Regional Airport as well as Foothills Regional Airport.

Contact Brandon

CFII | Jake Deel

Jake Deel has over 10 years of aviation experience including 6 years in the US Navy as a P-3C “Orion” Flight Engineer.  He attended the University of North Dakota with majors in Commercial Aviation and Flight Education.  Jake has experience in glass cockpits and was a stage check evaluator at the college.  He currently works at PSA Airlines in Charlotte flying the CRJ series jets.

Experience: High performance, complex, turbine, and jet operations, part 61/141 flight schools, part 91 and 121 operations.

Instruction available with Jake at Hickory Regional Airport.

Contact Jake