Pilot Training & Academics
Ken Larson thrives on sharing his lifelong passion for aviation with young people. He founded in the North Idaho High School Aerospace Program in fall 2013. In addition to overseeing NIHSAP’s Pilot Training program, Ken teaches the program’s Career Pathways in Aerospace and Pilot Ground School courses at Sandpoint High School. With more than 47 years and 8000 hours of flying experience, he is an ATP, CFI, CFII, AGI and Gold Seal Instructor Rated pilot. Ken also holds a law degree, flew in the U.S. Air Force as a jet aircraft instructor and for 10 years flew business jets commercially with NetJets, a Berkshire Hathaway Company.
Community Outreach & Career Guidance
Barney Ballard has a talent for bringing people together to achieve positive outcomes. Barney’s priority is advancing NIHSAP’s mission on all levels. His efforts are fueled by his love of aviation, passion for empowering youth to realize their potential, and commitment to strengthening the community through personal engagement.
Following his service in the U.S. Air Force as a jet pilot, Barney pursued a satisfying career in the restaurant business in Colorado and Idaho. Since moving to Sandpoint in 1984, Barney and his wife and business partner Carol have owned a series of successful restaurants, raised their three daughters, and have taken an active role in issues that impact the quality of education and doing business in Sandpoint. In addition to advancing aerospace career opportunities for young people, Barney is an advocate for language and culture education (oh, and the sport of rugby, as well!).
Email him at [email protected]
Academics: Sandpoint High School Occupational Training
Nayla was raised in Tucson, Arizona where she always knew she wanted to be a teacher. Right out of high school, she attended Northern Arizona University where she earned her Bachelor’s in Secondary English Education. She taught middle school English for 3 years before relocating to Sandpoint, Idaho. While substitute teaching in the Lake Pend Oreille school district, she earned her Business Teaching Endorsement. She teaches both online and “face-to-face” English, Business, and Career courses, including the two aerospace courses at Sandpoint High School with Ken Larson: Career Pathways in Aerospace and Pilot Ground School.
ACES Aviation Workshop, FAA Certified Aviation Mechanic
Amber Phillips is an adventurer who has a problem “staying put” on the ground. She uses the Pacific Northwest as a playground for anything outdoors and as a backdrop representing a clothing company called “Off Road Vixens.”
As for her passionate pursuit of aviation, her motto is, “Why should the birds have all the fun?” Amber has her Private Pilot certificate in airplane single engine land & sea and is working towards her tail wheel endorsement. She is an FAA certified airframe mechanic and works full-time at Quest Aircraft. Since joining Quest in 2008, Amber has performed many tasks throughout different departments. At present, she leads a great team of 18 people who build over 500 various assemblies for the Kodiak aircraft.
After learning about the North Idaho High School Aerospace Program, Amber and her aviation ally Glenn Smith began working with ACES Aviation Workshop students as lead mechanics on the Zenith Zodiac airplane-building project. For her, helping young people learn about aviation mechanics is a way to give back and pay tribute to those who have taught her.
Building a complex machine that defies gravity requires all the working parts to run smoothly. Amber takes pride in teaching ACES students the importance of building an aircraft the correct way, how to use tools safely, and to work cooperatively as a team.
As if she weren’t busy enough, beyond the bounds of her work at Quest and NIHSAP, Amber is pursuing her powerplant (engine) rating certification. In addition, she is developing an aerospace program for local 4H clubs. Amber is an active member of the International Organization of Women Pilots called the Ninety-Nines, established in 1929.
On a blue sky September day, Mary’s son Alex was introduced to flying at a Sandpoint EAA Young Eagles’ event. He was thrilled by the experience of flight and wanted to learn more, but too young to get a pilot’s license. They soon learned about NIHSAP, and it offered a perfect solution for them. Right away, Alex began taking part in ACES Aviation Workshop. Working alongside volunteer mentors — aviation mechanics, EAA airplane builders and pilots – he began building an actual airplane. For Alex, the Program has made aviation truly accessible. As for Mary, upon meeting Barney Ballard and Ken Larson, she couldn’t resist getting involved, too! She serves as a NIHSAP volunteer assisting with communication matters and events.
Mary’s professional pursuits have focused on sales, marketing and non-profit organization development, including 10+ years in public broadcasting. Prior to moving to the Sandpoint area in 2013, she was employed at the Natural History Museum of Utah in Salt Lake City. There she was privileged to be part of the leadership transition team that opened the Museum’s highly acclaimed $100+ million new facility. Mary enjoys exploring the amazing natural beauty found here in the Inland Empire – via land, water and air.
ACES Aviation Workshop, FAA Certified Aviation Mechanic
The very modest Glenn is a longtime pilot, an IA mechanic and he works with Burt Rutan. He thinks the Popular Mechanics plan- the 1907 Santos Dumont- will be NIHSAP’s next project.
ACES Aviation Workshop Club President
Ron is currently a sophomore at Sandpoint High School and is the club president of the Aces Aviation Workshop.
He has also logged in more hours than any other student in building the current airplane project.
His future plans are to work in the aerospace field.
David is an engineer at Quest Aviation and a proud owner of a vintage Bonanza.
Recently he, his wife and family returned from a missionary project in the Congo.
He is assiduously and meticulously rebuilding a Continental engine for our airplane.
North Idaho High School Aerospace Program
506 S. Boyer Avenue
Sandpoint, ID 83864
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