OUR TEAM

Catherine Weber, Owner/Operator

Al Rice, Chief Flight Instructor

 

Chris O'Donnell, Assistant Chief Fixed Wing Instructor

 

Kayla DeRuyter, Student Billing and DOT Manager

Alisha Sweeney, Director of Student Services

Mad Peters, Accountant

Rachel Espil, Office Assistant 

Megan Brocke, Office Assistant 

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ADMINISTRATIVE STAFF

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CATHERINE WEBER

Catherine is the owner and operator of Silverhawk. She was born and raised in Cottonwood, Idaho, and lived in a few different states before calling the Treasure Valley home. Catherine and her former partner founded the company in 1998 and, although she is in the office nearly daily, she has many hobbies. She and her husband Nick have horses, chickens, dogs, cats, four human children, and three grandbabies. They are very involved in their community and church... needless to say, she is busy!

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KAYLA DE RUYTER

Kayla is Silverhawk Aviation Academy's Student Billing and DOT Manager. A Boise native, Kayla is a lover of rescue animals, traveling, and food... specifically cake! Previously Kayla worked for a law office in San Diego after completing her bachelor's degree at Point Loma Nazarene University. Her favorite part about her job is working with local charities to provide donations on Silverhawk's behalf. Fun fact, Kayla and her husband had their first child Eloise in July 2021!

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ALISHA SWEENEY

Alisha is Silverhawk's Director of Student Services. She attended three universities, Seattle Pacific, Arizona State and the University of Idaho, where she received her BS in Advertising and Business. After a year of working in Spain, Alisha moved back to Boise to work at Silverhawk. During her free time you can find Alisha with her fiancé (and sometimes their fur fam) visiting hot springs, wineries, or traveling. 

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MAD PETERS

Mad is the accountant for Silverhawk. She loves animals, especially our office fluff Beau, and spending time with her husband!

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RACHEL ESPIL

Not only is Rachel the Office Assistant at Silverhawk, she is a full-time fixed wing student working toward her CFII. Rachel grew up ranching sheep and cattle in Reno, NV, and Northern California. She has a Bachelor's in Music, Opera, was a competitive swimmer for 13 years, and she is an avid antique and vintage clothing collector. After a career in corporate retail, Rachel found the sky was where she is meant to be. Fun fact, she had to sing songs in French, German, and Italian for her collegiate senior recital!

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BEAU

Certified Office Fluff. Beau has been meandering the Silverhawk hallways begging for food and looking for the perfect nap spot for years. He typically eats one kibble at a time, runs like a bunny, and leaves tastefully-placed "accidents" when his owners are away from home for too long. Recently, Beau attended a seminar on the future of digital media and aviation operations. Be sure to give him your card to talk strategy or to taste test treats.

CERTIFIED FLIGHT INSTRUCTORS

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AL RICE

Born in Winnemucca, Nevada, Al earned his private pilot certificate in 1969, and graduated from the US Army Flight School in 1972. Both his father and uncle were pilots, so naturally he followed in their footsteps, and was a US Army Aviator in the military. Al has years and years of experience flying both airplanes and helicopters along with 18 years in US Department of Interior Aviation Program. He is Silverhawk Aviation Academy's Chief Flight Instructor. 

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CHRIS O'DONNELL

Chris is the Assistant Chief Fixed Wing Instructor. In 1986 Chris watched Top Gun for the first time. Since then he's been hooked on the idea of flying. A Southern California native, Chris retired from the police department and soon thereafter became a fixed wing CFI. He has found he loves teaching and showing students the life as a pilot.

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RICHARD FARNSWORTH

Richard was born in Twin Falls and raised in Burley, ID. After high school he joined the Air Force to get involved in the aviation world, and eventually to have VA benefits to finance flight training. He and his wife travelled all over the world and lived in Germany before moving to Caldwell to start helicopter flight training. Richard's favorite part of being a CFI is watching other people chase their dreams and the views while flying!

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MIKE WALRATH

Mike is a helicopter CFI from Laramie, Wyoming. He is married, has two dogs, and has lived in the Boise area for over ten years. Before becoming a helicopter pilot, he was working behind a computer as a Program Manager and felt he needed a change. During a rafting trip he saw a helicopter drop off a group of hotshot firefighters and was super inspired. After his discovery flight, he was hooked! He loves the outdoors, holds the 800 meter indoor track and field record for BSU, proposed to his wife after a helicopter tour, and got married in Ireland! 

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JASON SPICKELMIRE

Jason bounced between small town Riggins, Idaho, and big city life in Denver, Colorado. He felt well equipped to live anywhere, so he joined the US Navy and traveled the world for 20 years. He was a Gas Turbine Systems Technician Mechanic and retired as a Senior Chief Petty Officer. After working in the Landing Craft Air Cushion community his dream of flying led him to Silverhawk. Jason is a helicopter CFI, "helping others attain their goals and dreams", enjoys the outdoors, and spending time with his wife and three kids. 

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DARRELL CEREGHINO

Darrell and his father moved to Homedale, Idaho, about ten years ago. He played varsity football and ran track at Greenleaf Friends Academy. Darrell joined the US Air Force for five years; three of those years were spend in Guam where he worked with helicopters. He feels there is nothing better than teaching and seeing the lightbulb moment with his helicopter students. Darrell is from long lost Italian royalty and he knows how to surf and scuba dive!

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RICKEY CULP

Originally from Sheridan, WY, Rickey, alongside his wife and their daughter, is a self proclaimed fan of Southwest Idaho and everything it has to offer. As an aircrew member on the CH-46 and the MV-22 in the Marine Corps, he was regularly exposed to the thrills of flying. When he left the military this fire drove him to Silverhawk to begin flight training. As a helicopter CFI, he loves taking passengers and students flying for the first time and seeing that blissful smile! Fun facts, Rickey was a personal trainer and enjoys playing the acoustic guitar.

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SITARA MOHR

Sitara was raised in Kauai, Hawaii, yet spent a lot of time back and forth between Boise and Kauai, she considers both home. Travelling is her passion, but she loves the outdoors, house plants, and cooking, as well! Sitara's dad is a helicopter pilot, so she was able to tag along throughout her life and loved being in the air. After college, she did a discovery flight and fell in love. She love the views from above and watching others reach their aviation goals. Fun fact, she's been to 12 countries and her pup's name is Pickles!

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KYLE BRANSCOMBE

Kyle is a helicopter CFI.

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ROSS FORTKAMP

A Santa Rosa, California, native, Ross played baseball and basketball throughout his life, and worked as a firefighter for eight years. Ross feels this is the first time he has felt a sense of purpose and direction in his life since being a firefighter. He loves helping others succeed and seeing that "light bulb" moment as a helicopter flight instructor. Fun fact, Ross play's the guitar! 

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HECTOR IRIZARRY

Hector, a helicopter CFI, was born and raised in Puerto Rico. He found his love for helicopters when he served as an Aircraft Electrician in the US military. He is a A&P mechanic and worked in six different countries. He loves flight instruction and can see himself being a career CFI/Advanced Flight Training instructor. Fun facts, he comes from a family of pilots, but is the first helicopter pilot and Hector has visited 18 countries .

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JACOB MURRAY

Jacob is a helicopter CFI from Columbia, Missouri. He moved out to Idaho in 2019 to pursue flight training at Silverhawk. He is an avid outdoorsman and frequent backpacker; when not in the air he is in the mountains or on the water. He worked in healthcare for five years before starting his career at Silverhawk. Being able to teach people new things and encourage their passions are the best parts of his job as a CFI. If you didn't know, Jacob has a 120 pound Bernese Mountain dog/horse!

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HANNA LONG

Born in Hampton, Virginia, and raised in Okinawa, Japan, Hanna is a self proclaimed "military brat" who loves to travel! She competed in Track and Field for seven years, enjoys true crime documentaries, chocolate, makeup, and flying helicopters. She has a German Shepherd, has been to three countries and 25 states, and cannot wait to travel all over Europe one day. Ciao Europa!

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JIMMY HOWARD

Jimmy was raised in Redding, CA, by parents who imparted a love of adventure. There wasn't a year they didn't visit the Redwood Forrest or go hunting in the mountains. He joined the Air Force and became an Aircrew Egress Systems Mechanic. During his 20 years of service, Jimmy worked on seven different airframes, spent three years in Japan, two years in England, and a year in South Korea. After retirement, he began flight training at Silverhawk and became a helicopter CFI! Fun fact, because he was only 17 years old when he joined the Air Force he needed parental approval, so he tricked his mom into signing and three months later he was off to basic training.

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GARRETT LADNIER

Garrett was raised on his family's farm in Wiggins, Mississippi. He joined the Army as a Chinook Helicopter Mechanic where he discovered his love for aviation. He followed his dreams, with his family encouraging him along way, and began helicopter training at Silverhawk in 2019. Garrett can be found flying, exploring the Idaho outdoors, or meeting new people! 

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KYLE WAGENAAR

Kyle is a helicopter CFI born in Walla Walla and raised in a rural farming community Athena, OR. He joined the Air Force in 1999 as a munitions specialist and spent 20 years going where they sent him. Kyle and his high school sweetheart stay very busy with their two daughters, sports, and the cherished motorcycle rides. Once he found he could use his veterans benefits toward flight training, he jumped at the opportunity. Fun fact, Kyle was his high school mascot and won best mascot in 1998 at cheer camp!

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CODY BRAAKSMA

Cody is a dual rated pilot from Murrieta, CA. When asked about himself he said, "I have a cat that likes to go on walks on a leash and a dog that chases a laser pointer to no end. I like to mow my lawn while making sun brewed tea. And flying makes me happy!" Cody grew up watching helicopters fly over his home and he knew he would turn his dreams of flying into a reality when he separated from the Air Force. Cody is a FW CFI, has lived on four different continents, and he has visited 15 countries!

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BRENDEN HUBELE

Brenden is a FW CFI in Ontario, OR.

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DARREN TROUDT

Darren is a fixed wing CFI. He and his wife, and high school sweetheart, became new parents October 2021!

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DALLAS PYNCHON

Contrary to what you may believe, Dallas was not born in Texas. He was born in Honolulu, Hawai'i, and raised in Boise, ID mountain biking as often as possible. "I’ve always loved to live life by my passions and share those with others. Being outside doing the things I love keeps me excited and curious about what's around the corner for me in life." He worked in the biking industry for eight years before becoming a fixed wing flight instructor. Dallas has always loved airplanes and admired the lifestyle. He felt aviation was his future and has loved the journey since!

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KALEB MAY

A Dubois, ID, native, Kaleb grew up in a town of 600 people and loved football, basketball... "anything with competition"! Kaleb loves business and specialized in marketing. He has started three businesses and continues running one of those. After selling a company, his cousin convinced him to fly and he was hooked. As a fixed wing CFI, he loves the daily interaction and helping others work toward their goals. Fun fact about Kaleb, "I have the world's cutest two year old boy!"

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SAM FRITSCHLE

Sam is a FW CFI in Ontario, Oregon. 

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RYAN LOUDEN

Ryan is an avid motorcycle rider, drummer, electronics enthusiast, gym rat, and world traveler from Albuquerque, New Mexico. His lifelong passion for flight and the unique lifestyle of aviation is what led him to becoming a fixed wing pilot. He was in the Air Force, C-130-J Aircrew, then he went on to fly UAVs assisting overseas military peacekeeping operations. Ryan has lived and worked in every country bordering the Mediterranean and Caspian Seas!

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TAYLOR SHERMAN

Taylor is a fixed wing CFI.

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BEN WINN

Born and raised in Weston, OR, Benjamin's passion for flying began in childhood. Before flight school he worked as an RN in medical/surgical care and post anesthesia care for over 12 years. When Ben isn't flying an airplane, you can find him with his wife, golden retriever and cat, or outside skiing, whitewater kayaking and rafting - he's even kayaked off a 30' waterfall!

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KATIE KIRKPATRICK

Katie is a fixed wing CFI. I love to workout, ski and go hiking with my dog! After one discovery flight, I fell in love and didn’t want do anything else! I graduated from BSU and managed a gym and there I trained people and taught yoga classes! I lived and studied abroad in France and speak french! Sharing my passion with other people!

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ZACH MUNDS

Zach is a fixed wing CFI.

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DAWSON KENNON

Dawson is a fixed wing CFI.

MAINTENANCE CREW

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TIMOTHY ELROY

Raised in Fairbanks, Alaska, Timothy grew up around aviation helping his father fly from the many villages of interior Alaska delivering food, mail, and even sled dogs for the Iditarod! Timothy started his career in aviation at a young age and has worked on everything from tube and fabric bush planes to multi-engine turboprop aircraft. Shortly after high school, he served in the Alaska Army National Guard as a military police officer. He enjoys camping, snowmobiling, snowboarding, and fly fishing. Timothy is the Director of Maintenance at Silverhawk.

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AUSTIN COBISKEY

A recent high school graduate from Notus, Austin started out as an intern at Silverhawk Aviation. After finding he enjoyed working with helicopter engines, he joined the maintenance team full-time. When he is not in the hangar, Austin enjoys hunting, fishing, hiking, rock climbing and riding motorcycle. Austin loves country music and named his Honda Nighthawk motorcycle Rhonda!

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JACK KNUTSON

Jack was born in Columbia, Missouri. He currently serves in the Idaho Army National Guard as a '15T' UH-60 Crew Chief. Jack is passionate about aviation and worked for a FBO in Northern Idaho as a line service technician before training and working at Silverhawk. He loves flying and his favorite drink is milk! When asked what he enjoys most about Silverhawk he said, "The people. Being apart of Silverhawk really makes me feel like I have another family." 

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SHELBY TRITTHART

Shelby is the Head Mechanic and a helicopter CFI at Silverhawk Aviation Academy. Shelby used to fight forest fires on a helitack crew, and the helicopters were her favorite part of the job. She worked in group sales after college at a ski resort, but after two years of sitting at a desk, she wanted a change, and pursued a career with helicopters! 

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TOM SPILLNER

Tom is a retired police officer from Danville, California. He and his wife have "two awesome kiddos and somehow keep collecting animals"! He has many hobbies, but his favorites are golf, baseball, and fabricating. Tom was interested in aviation and he enjoys learning and continuous  problem solving, so once he retired he knew it was time for something new. 

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ZACH BANNER

Born and raised in Star, Idaho, Zach and his wife are proud parents to their two kids. When he's not working on aircraft, Zach likes to fish, golf, hunt, and fly helicopters! Before Silverhawk, he was an Avionics Electrical Technician for seven years in the US Coast Guard. Zach flew as a crew member on USCG aircrafts conducting law enforcement, counter drug operations, and search and rescue. Zach loves the challenge his job presents and he is left handed!

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MATT PERKINS

Matt is an apprentice on the Silverhawk maintenance team. He is from Paradise, California, and worked as a fisheries tech before joining the Silverhawk team. Interesting fact, Matt's grandfather was competitive aerobatic pilot!

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ETHAN ROSS 

Ethan is an apprentice on the Silverhawk maintenance team. 

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DAVID BLACK

David is an A&P mechanic from Marshall, Minnesota. He was homeschooled through his sophomore year, then attended Minnesota West Technical College. He was "a part of speech and robotics, and actively involved in church. [He] loved learning and building new things..." David earned his degree in mechatronic engineering and fluid power, while working on wind towers; upon graduating he worked for a corn processing plant. He has his fixed wing PPL and worked as a blacksmith through school!

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TARA CHAMBERLAIN

Tara is the Parts Manager.

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SETH BERKENMEIER

Seth was born in Boise and is the youngest of four boys in his family. He is an A&P mechanic who loves aviation! When he isn't working on an aircraft, he is outside, riding dirt bikes, camping, fishing, or boating. Or, perhaps studying, as he is a full-time engineering student!