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Catherine Cavagnaro of Sewanee, Tennessee has been named the 2020 National Certificated Flight Instructor of the Year. Dr. Cavagnaro is a mathematician by training, earning her B.S. in mathematics at Santa Clara University in 1987, and her Ph.D. in mathematics at the University of Illinois in 1995. She serves as Professor of Mathematics and formerly as Chair of the Mathematics Department at Sewanee: The University of the South. In that capacity, she has developed and implemented courses in such areas as aerodynamics, differential equations and mathematical modeling. Aviation provides a treasure trove of real-world examples for her mathematics courses.
Catherine owns and operates the Ace Aerobatic School in Sewanee, Tennessee, where she has become widely known as an expert on spin recovery and avoidance as well as recoveries from unusual attitudes. She films her own videos that help pilots understand the complex aerodynamics of spins and unusual attitudes and her presentations have drawn rave reviews. Catherine has filmed a 60-turn spin in her Cessna Aerobat to show that the recovery is the same after three turns. During 2004-2008, Professor Cavagnaro served as a test pilot, spin demonstration pilot, researcher, and visiting professor of aviation systems at the University of Tennessee Space Institute. While there, she served on the icing team that modeled the longitudinal stability characteristics of NASA’s Twin Otter in various icing configurations, and configured the variable-stability Navion to duplicate these characteristics. In 2018, Catherine was inducted into the Tennessee Aviation Hall of Fame.
She is an Airline Transport Pilot (ASEL), a Commercial Pilot (ASES, AMEL, glider) and a Flight Instructor (ASE, AME, instrument). She serves as a lead representative for the FAA Safety Team with the Nashville FSDO, and was honored as 2018 FAASTeam Representative of the Year. She also serves the Nashville FSDO as a Designated Pilot Examiner.
Catherine is a monthly contributor to AOPA Pilot Magazine for which she writes on safety, proficiency and technical aspects of aviation. She is a highly sought speaker and has a knack for making complex aviation concepts accessible and entertaining to non-technical audiences. One attendee at Catherine’s presentation at the 2017 AOPA Regional Fly-In in Groton, Connecticut, told AOPA that “Catherine Cavagnaro’s seminar was the best one I’ve ever seen on any topic.”
When she isn’t teaching aviation or mathematics, Catherine loves exploring our country with her sons, Jack and Pete, in their acrobatic Beechcraft Bonanza. email@example.com
Learn more about Ace Aerobatics School: http://www.aceaerobaticschool.com/
Read some of Catherine's AOPA Articles: https://www.aopa.org/news-and-media/articles-by-author/catherine-cavagnaro