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Meet The Instructors

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Colton Harmon


Colton is our Chief Flight Instructor and started training with Blue Ridge Aviation. He completed all of his ratings within 14 months before joining our team as a CFI. Prior to his flight training he was a medic for 6 years with the 116th infantry, Virginia National Guard. In addition to flying, he enjoys skiing and golfing. 

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Jake Shifflett


As a very young child Jake was always intrigued by the magic of flight. At the age of 10 years old he went to a fly-in at the Winchester Regional Airport and took his first plane ride. That flight helped him realize he wanted to become a pilot. Jake started his flight training at 15 years old, soloed at 16 and earned his private pilot's license at 18 years old. At 30 years old he continued his flight training with Blue Ridge Aviation, and within 16 months earned his instrument rating, commercial pilot's license, and flight instructor certificate. He served 9 years in the VA Air National Guard and also served as a police officer for 5 years. He love teaching new pilots and watching them succeed and claims that being a flight instructor is very rewarding.

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Nick Kanode

Nick grew up in Weyers Cave and is attending Liberty University for a degree in Aeronautics and Business. He did his private and instructor training here at Blue Ridge Aviation and instrument and commercial training at Liberty. In his free time, he enjoys anything outdoors from soccer to kayaking.
Melissa Smiley
Jake Cothran
Jake grew up in West Point, VA. He has been fascinated with aviation since a young age and initially took some flight lessons in his teenage years. Flying runs in his family, as his great grandfather was a pilot in WWII and his uncle flew B-52s in Vietnam. Jake attended Virginia Tech and graduated with a bachelor's degree in 2013. He then went on to serve for over seven years in public safety, over five of which he served as a police officer for the Waynesboro Police Department. After deciding to make a career change to aviation, Jake began taking flight lessons again in October of 2020, but continued to work full time. After growing weary of work delaying flight training, Jake left his job in law enforcement in December of 2021 and trained hard, completing a remarkable five ratings in just nine months. Jake is an avid traveler, outdoorsman and still serves with the WPD as a volunteer police officer.


Melissa grew up in Stuarts Draft, VA, and has also lived in Germany and California. After being a stay at home mom for 7 years she decided to make her dream of flight a reality.
It took her 16 months to go from Private, Instrument, Commercial, and then CFI at Blue Ridge Aviation.
She’s excited to be part of the school where she learned and is ready to share her love of flying with new and seasoned pilots. When not flying, she enjoys spending time with the two coolest kids in the world.
Sonet Gandhi
Sonet did his entire flight training at Blue Ridge Aviation (Private, Instrument, Commercial and CFI).

He received his Bachelors at Bridgewater College in Business Administration and  played for their Men's Tennis team (4 Years)

Sonet loves traveling and trying new foods  and enjoys playing tennis during summer and snowboarding during the winter.

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