Leadership Team

Leadership Team

Aviation faculty and staff have offices at the Flight Operations Center and on the main Westminster campus. We work from both locations to assist students in meeting their educational and flight training goals.

Main Campus

Dr. John Schaefer - Aviation Department Chair
Phone: (801) 832-2666

 Education: BS Aeronautical Engineering United States Air Force Academy; Masters degrees in Aeronautical Science, Systems Engineering, Military Arts, and National Resource Strategy; EdD from the University of Idaho.

Hobbies: hunting, fishing, flying, and skiing Advice to new aviation students: Figure out what you want in life and work hard to achieve it.

Link to college directory


Gail Avendano - Director of Aviation Student Support and Associate Instructor 
Phone: (801) 832-2671

Education: B.A. English/Teaching, Montana State University; M.Ed. Curriculum and Instruction, Westminster College

Hometown: Bozeman, MT

About Me: I started working at Westminster when we began our flight operations program in 2000. I enjoy all of the different ways I get to work with students. Westminster is a dynamic, energetic, place and I love it.

Hobbies: running, hiking, and using my airline flight benefits. Having a spouse who works for the airlines does have its perks.

Advice to new aviation students: Regularly read your college email, get involved in clubs and organizations, and plan on doing at least one--or more--internships before you graduate.

Link to college directory.



Brandon (Brad) McQueen - Assistant Professor of Aviation
Phone: (801) 832-2622

Education: B.S. Aviation Technology, Utah State University; MBA, Westminster College

Certifications: ATP, CFI, CFII, MEI

Hometown: Neenah, WI

About Me: I began my professional career as a flight instructor with Westminster College.  I was able to take advantage of spectacular opportunities that positioned me in a variety of roles within Westminster’s Flight Operations.  I left the College full-time as the Director of Flight Education & Chief Flight Instructor to pursue a career in Corporate Aviation as a pilot with an Aircraft Management company.  Ultimately, I decided that the lifestyle I was experiencing while flying private aircraft owners all over North & Central America was not supporting what I wanted for my and my family’s life.  When presented with another amazing opportunity to return to Westminster as a member of the Aviation Department, I happily returned.  I enjoy the experiences, challenges, and excitement involved in teaching, mentoring, and working to develop the future leaders within the Aviation Industry.

Hobbies: I am married with three young and fun children.  Together we like to spend our time outside, traveling and enjoying activities in the mountains and canyons throughout the West.

Advice to new aviation students: Take ownership of your training and educational experiences.  Find ways to keep your finger on the pulse of the current issues impacting the areas within the industry you are interested in professionally.  Don’t take anything personally and treat everyone with respect. 




Gene Reinecke - Assistant Chief Instructor for Simulation and Testing
Phone: (801) 832-2626

Education: B.S. Finance, California State University, Long Beach

About Me: I started, operated and eventually sold a medical equipment rental company providing lasers to doctors and hospitals. I also managed a P135 charter company, two P141 flight schools and a rock and roll band (long story!)  My business endeavors allowed me to pursue a career in aviation where I have been a lifelong instructor, airline and corporate pilot and safety advocate. I am currently a Boeing B-737 captain for a major US airline. I have had the opportunity to teach in flight schools, airlines, and now at Westminster College.  

Why I joined Westminster's Aviation Dvision: The professional and personal satisfaction of mastering flying aircraft for personal use or a career is unparalleled. However, this career can be a rollercoaster! Air Line bankruptcies, flight department closures, economic meltdowns, new aircraft deliveries, personal health and family situations-all these can provide setbacks and opportunities for the career aviator. I have been fortunate to have some of these events shape my career and would like to give back to my chosen profession by teaching and advising the next generation of aviators to “keep your seat belt on and enjoy the ride!”           

Hobbies: Married with three teenage daughters so I guess one of my hobbies is drama. . . Seriously, I enjoy outdoor sports, winter and summer, traveling with the family and running with my Labradors. And for pure flying enjoyment I go soaring (gliders) every chance I get.




Flight Operations Center


Lance Vaculin - Director of Flight Operations, Chief Flight Instructor, and Associate Instructor
Phone: (801) 832-2923

Education: M.Ed. Westminster College; Master CFI

Hometown: Silver City, NM

About Me: I started instructing in 2002 at Skypark in Bountiful, Utah and served as their Chief Flight Instructor before coming to Westminster. I am very excited about being part of an outstanding program here at Westminster.

Hobbies: In my spare time I enjoy wakeboarding and anything to do with the outdoors.

Link to college directory




Scott Olsen - Senior Assistant Chief Flight Instructor, Foundations of Flight Course Leader, Associate Instructor

Certifications: CFI, CFII, MEI; tailwheel endorsement

Education: B.S. Flight Operations, Westminster College

Hometowns: Layton, UT and Twin Falls, ID

Hobbies: basketball, classic cars, camping, backcountry flying, and raising chickens

What I like about my job: The beauty of flying. I never get tired of flying over mountains and deserts. 

What I like about Westminster: Westminster truly teaches beyond the level required by the FAA. I like that Westminster is devoted to creating smart, safe pilots.

What I like about Utah/Salt Lake City: Utah is such a diverse environment. Salt Lake City has what big cities have to offer but also has a small town feel. If you like the outdoors, you will love Utah.

Favorite Restaurant: The African restaurant on Redwood Road. Get the samosas!

What you may not know about me: I ride my bike to work more often than I drive.

Link to college directory




Ian McCabe -Assistant Chief Flight Instructor, Safety Officer, PIC Development and Intermediate Course Leader, Associate Instructor, NIFA Coach

About Me: I completed my Flight Operations degree at Westminster between 2008 and 2012. When I graduated, I moved to Daytona Beach, Florida for a year and attained my CFI certificate.

Once I completed that, I moved back to Salt Lake City and started working as a CFI and now as an Assistant Chief for Westminster. In addition to being the course leader for the PIC Development and Intermediate courses, I am also the Safety Manager and NIFA (flight team) coach.

Education: B.S. Flight Operations, Westminster College & currently enrolled in the MBA program

Hometown: River Falls, Wisconsin

Hobbies: basketball, skiing, hiking, and traveling

Aviation Goal: Realistically, be a captain at an airline. Dream job: fly for the Discovery Channel going on excursions and doing aerial photography

Link to college directory