Meet Our Leadership Team
As a nonprofit organization, we’re passionate about assisting veterans through scholarship to achieve their private pilots license. Our goal is to empower veterans who want to pursue aviation as career to achieve their dreams. Grassroots generosity and community action are powerful forces for good, especially in turbulent times. Our Board of Directors are diligently working to steer the organization toward achieving our mission.
Joseph (aka Joey) Johnson — Co-Founder. President. Executive Committee.
Joseph Johnson is an American Airlines pilot and a Federal Aviation Administration Designated Pilot Examiner. Joey started flying at 17 years old and has been in the aviation industry for 35 years. He attended Northwest Louisiana University to study aviation and went on to flight school at Bolivar School of Aeronautics near Memphis, Tennessee. A true aviation enthusiast and member of the North TX Flight Standards District Office FAA Safety team, Joey instructs safety seminars for local pilots and fellow aviation enthusiasts. Aside from his love of flying, Joey is an amateur beekeeper and music buff - playing the piano, guitar, harmonica, and accordion.
Neil Raaz — Vice President. Executive Committee.
Neil Raaz is the fourth of five generations to have continuously served our Nation’s armed forces since 1932. With over 30 years of demonstrated leadership in both military and commercial aviation, Neil holds an Airline Transport Pilot certificate as well as Senior Army Aviator and Naval Aviator designations. Along with Shannon, his wife of over 30 years, Neil has been a tireless advocate for Veterans causes to include serving as a founding member of "100 Vets Who Give a Damn" and the Chairman and CEO of "The Snowball Express".
Melinda Sapaugh — Co-Founder & Secretary
Melinda Sapaugh is an avid volunteer of 10 years and recent MBA graduate with experience in nonprofit management. Melinda has worked for an after-school program based in DFW for 7 years as a site director and now as the HR generalist. As an undergraduate student, she spent her time conducting research studies on nonprofit organizations located in the midwest to study the financial experiences they faced prior to and following the recession. She is very passionate about participating in civic engagement by addressing public concerns and giving back to her community.
Patrick Arnzen — Board Member.
Patrick Arnzen is the CEO and founder of Thrust Flight. He is an energetic entrepreneur that enjoys giving back to the industry that has given so much to him. Patrick is a former airline pilot. He has been a designated pilot examiner since 2012 and is also an Airframe and Power Plant mechanic with Inspectors Authorization. Patrick has served on several non-profit and aviation related boards. When Patrick isn’t flying he enjoys spending time with his wife and daughter, racing cars, and cycling.
Andrea Skill — Scholarship Selection Committee Chair. Board Member.
Andrea Skill is a native Texan and proud Aggie, class of 2011. After a couple of career changes, Andrea began her aviation journey in April of 2016. With guidance from her mentor, Joey Johnson, she passed through the gauntlet — private pilot to flight instructor— now flying a Citation X out of Dallas. As she progressed through her career, general aviation has made a long-lasting impression in her heart. She continues to find ways to stay involved in the community as she believes in giving back to the community that blessed her with an incredible life. When Andrea isn't flying, she spends her time working on new projects in her new home, playing the piano, and spending time with friends and family.
Renee Ouellette — Treasurer. Board Member.
Renee was introduced to aviation at age 18 by her father. Her flight instructor, Al, became her mentor and inspired her to believe that she could have a career as an airline pilot. She obtained her ratings at the local FBO while she attended the Community College of RI and later, Middle TN State University. She flew for American Eagle for 9 years and has spent the last 24 years with American Airlines where she is now an AirBus Captain. She enjoys spending time with her family, sailing and planning new adventures for her retirement years.
Autumn Jacobs - Social Media Manager
Autumn was born and raised in the DFW Metroplex. Two of her passions include marine mammals and aviation. She earned her B.S in Marine Biology from Texas A&M University in 2020 and graduated the American Airlines Cadet Academy in 2021. Outside of work, she enjoys finding new places to go to as well as spending time with her family, friends and pets!
Patrick Fitzpatrick - Website Manager
Patrick, originally from Dublin, Ireland has worked as a Software Professional in DFW for 25yrs. He also holds a Commercial Pilot certificate and enjoys doing contract SIC as a side hustle. He is also working on becoming a Certified Flight Instructor. When he’s not working or flying, Patrick enjoys walking his dogs, going to the gym and mountain biking.