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About the Air Safety Institute

ASI is committed to reducing general aviation mishaps by providing free educational resources and supporting initiatives that improve general aviation flight safety and grow the pilot population.

Since 1950, the general aviation accident rate has decreased by 90 percent. It’s no coincidence that’s the same year the AOPA Air Safety Institute began creating safety programs for the pilot community.

The ASI team’s passion for aviation, creativity, insightful education, research, and analysis is evident in our educational offerings. From award-winning online courses to in-person seminars, flight instructor renewal courses, accident analysis, and much more, the products are created with the goal of helping all pilots fly more safely.

Meet the ASI Team

Paul Deres Air Safety Institute Vice President, Operations

Paul Deres, Vice President, Operations, manages the AOPA Air Safety Institute’s day-to-day operations and key projects that drive new initiatives for advancing general aviation safety including videos, podcasts, publications, and other programs.

Paul received a Bachelor of Science in Missionary Aviation from Carolina University where he earned most of his pilot certificates and ratings, including his Airframe and Powerplant (A&P) certificates. He also earned an Executive Certificate in Business Administration from the University of Notre Dame and holds the Project Management Professional (PMP) and Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP) certifications from the Project Management Institute.

Paul is an active pilot, certificated flight instructor, and veteran of the U.S. Army.

Rob Geske, AOPA Air Safety Institute's Manager of Aviation Safety AnalysisRob Geske, Manager, Aviation Safety Analysis, joined the ASI team in January 2018. He is responsible for the Nall Report and general aviation safety analysis.

Prior to joining ASI, Rob worked as a research fellow and certified flight instructor. He conducted research on technically advanced aircraft, regulations, and safety.

Rob has a bachelor’s degree in Aviation Flight Science from Western Michigan University and a master’s degree in Aviation and Aerospace Management from Purdue University. He holds Commercial Pilot and CFI certificates.

Sarah Staudt

Sarah Staudt, Manager, eFIRC and Outreach, Is the Chief Flight Instructor for the AOPA Air Safety Institute’s online flight instructor refresher course (“eFIRC”) where she uses her technical knowledge and experience as a CFI to create and improve content for the eFIRC and other ASI products. Prior to joining ASI, Sarah was a Senior Aviation Technical Specialist in AOPA’s Pilot Information Center and the Chief Flight Instructor in AOPA Flight Operations.

She started flying in high school in a late 1960s Cherokee at an airport near her parents' home in Ohio. From there her experience has grown and she currently holds a commercial pilot certificate with single- and multi- engine ratings and an instrument rating. She also holds CFI, CFI-I and MEI certificates. Sarah has instructed in Part 141 and Part 61 schools as well as conducted Part 91 commercial flying operations including aerial photography and private operations for a family in their cabin-class aircraft.

Sarah graduated from the University of North Dakota with a Bachelor of Science in Aeronautics with majors in Commercial Aviation and Flight Education. Her education also includes a Bachelor of Science as a Scholar of the Honors Program from the University of North Dakota and a Master of Management from Colorado State University—Global. She lives in central Maryland with her husband and young family.

Machteld Smith

Machteld Smith, Senior Editor, writes and develops content for the Air Safety Institute’s safety education programs, including online courses, newsletters, and publications. Before joining ASI, she was a Senior Editor for AOPA Pilot and managing AOPA’s Airport Directory.

Born in Wellington, New Zealand, and of Dutch nationality before coming to the U.S, she studied journalism and traveled the world as a KLM (Royal Dutch Airlines) stewardess on DC-8s and -9s. Among the first 100 recreational pilots in early 1991, Machteld currently holds a commercial certificate, with single- and multiengine instrument and single-engine seaplane ratings.

Flights trumping her airline career: piloting a C172 in to and out of Leadville, Colorado; flying a Piper Tripacer on floats around Alaska’s Mount McKinley and Denali’s glaciers; and earning her tailwheel signoff in a Citabria.

Tyler Pangborn

Tyler Pangborn, Video Producer II, joined the Air Safety Institute team in August 2015. He is responsible for the creation of ASI’s safety videos.

Prior to joining ASI, Tyler worked as an aerial photographer / remote sensor operator for an aerial survey company at the Frederick airport, and before that, as an assistant video producer with a marketing firm in Hagerstown, MD.

Tyler earned his private pilot certificate in 2017. He is a graduate of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, with a bachelor’s degree in Visual Arts. He currently resides in Hagerstown, MD with his wife and two daughters.

Adam Rarey

Adam Rarey, Video Producer, supports general aviation safety through creative video content. He joined the Air Safety Institute in February, 2022.

Prior to ASI, Adam worked as a live events producer for a production company in Arlington, Virginia. He graduated with a degree in cinematography from the University of Michigan.

Adam earned his CFI certificate in October 2023. He hopes that he can impart his love of aviation to the next generation of pilots.

Claire Urban

Claire Urban, Senior Design Architect, joined the Air Safety Institute team in January 2016. She is responsible for creating and updating many of ASI’s online courses including the online flight instructor refresher course (eFIRC).

Prior to joining ASI, Claire worked as a contractor developing many of ASI’s current interactive online courses. It was a natural progression to bring her e-learning development and web design skills in-house. As a lifelong resident of Frederick, Claire has worked as a Senior Designer for many years in a local online marketing agency, and as a freelance designer.

Claire is a graduate from Shepherd University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Design. She has added student pilot to her list of achievements. Her passions range from going off-highway in her Jeep to photography, jewelry making, and woodworking.