At Race City Flight Operations, we have full and part time flight instructors, highly experienced and well versed in the regulations and safety needed to ensure there is no question your training will be unparalleled in quality and satisfaction. Our instructors work as a team, so you may have one instructor for a portion of your flying and may finish with another instructor, or you may get to fly with another instructor for just a few flights at various “stage” checks.


At our Lake Norman location:

BILL HATFIELD, Flight Instructor (CFI/I/MEI, A&P IA)

I started flying after graduating from college in 1969 and received my Private Pilot Certificate in 1971 and CFI in 1981.  After retiring from GE  after 31 years, I went back to school and earned an Airframe and Power Plant Certificate.  Now I enjoy teaching people to fly and maintaining aircraft for Race City Flight Operations.

BRIANNA PALMER, Flight Instructor (CFI/I/MEI)

Aviation has always been a big part of my life. As a kid I used to go to EAA Air Venture at Oshkosh every summer with my dad and he would drag me tent to tent looking at all of the new gadgets and gizmos. It was not until after college I really started thinking about aviation (something that we had always done for fun on weekends) as a career. During the fall of 2019, I began working towards my private license in Indianapolis. I quickly realized that if I wanted to get to where I wanted I would definitely need some better weather. In 2020 I moved back home to Orlando, Florida and joined a fast track program which allowed me to obtain my ratings quickly. I knew upon finishing that program I wanted to come back to the Carolinas, so I did just that. I moved to the Charlotte area in April of 2021. Ultimately my goal is to be a pilot at a major airline. However, I am really enjoying spreading my knowledge and experience to students and helping them achieve whatever goals they set!

WAYNE COOK, Flight Instructor (CFI/I/MEI)

I started in aviation as a USAF Rescue helicopter pilot. After 13 years, I transferred to the United States Army National Guard and retired 15 years later as a Master Aviator. While in the USAF, I became a helicopter test pilot and continued in the National Guard. After retirement, I added fixed wing certifications. My goal is to impart my experience for those wanting to either make a career or just learn to fly for fun, SAFELY. Come join our team at Race City Flight Operations.

DYLAN GULLA, Flight Instructor (CFI/I/MEI)

My dream of a career in aviation started when I was just a small child, traveling the United States with family and going to all the airshows I could, military and civilian. The art of flying an airplane amazes me to this day and I am truly blessed to see the beautiful skies of North Carolina each and every day. I earned my private pilot’s license at Purdue University in 2019 and completed a fast track pilot training program in Daytona Beach to obtain all of my pilot certificates ranging from instrument and commercial all the way through to multi-engine instructor. I have been so happy to be sharing the gift of aviation with others at Lake Norman Airpark ever since! Although my ultimate goal is to either fly private commercial aircraft or for an airline, teaching others how to fly has taken a very special place in my heart. Whether it be sending a student on their first solo flight or shaking their hand after a successful checkride pass, teaching others to fly never fails to put a smile on my face. I hope to see you at Race City Flight Operations and let’s get you to your aviation goals!

JOE ACUFF, Flight Instructor (CFI)

As a kid I looked up and watched planes cut across the deep blue Carolina sky and felt a sense of belonging. I remember playing soccer as a kid and spending less time with my eye on the ball and more with my eye on the jet passing by overhead. Almost 20 years later I’ve found myself in many different jobs. From working with boats on Lake Norman and baggage handling with Delta at CLT, to retail, restaurants, and even a short stint as a substitute teacher for a local school. However, all roads eventually brought me back to the cockpit where I belong. I got my private pilot’s license with Race City Flight Ops in 2019, and have since earned my Instrument rating, Commercial license and CFI. Although moving on to the airlines is a goal of mine, I see myself staying in the general aviation community for many years to come. Both as a CFI, and the guy who wants to fly with some friends for an expensive lunch. I look forward to flying with you!

At our Martinsville location:



BRANDON SHIVLEY, Flight Instructor (CFI/I)