Staff

Your Pilots and Instructors – Even though we provide the safest and most modern training aircraft, our primary strength is the quality of our Flight Instructors. Our expert instructors pay the closest attention to safety and undergo continuous re-training to ensure that they deliver no less than excellence in flight instruction.

Drew Dampier
Assistant Chief Flight Instructor
CFI, CFII

drew@neworleansairplanes.comPicture of Drew Dampier
A native of the New Orleans area, Drew began flight training immediately after high school and quickly progressed through the ranks of Private, Instrument, Commercial, Multi-engine, CFI, and CFI-I. Drew holds a Bachelor’s degree in Professional Aviation from Louisiana Tech University in Ruston, Louisiana, was elected President of the Louisiana Tech University Precision Flight Team, and Vice-President of Eta Mu Sigma, an Aviation Honor Society. While still a student and after graduating,  Drew gave flight instruction to Private, Instrument, and Commercial students at Louisiana Tech University. Drew grew up next to the Belle Chasse Naval Base and has been around aircraft his entire life. After purchasing a flight simulator for his computer and taking a flight in the aircraft of a family friend, he caught the flying bug and immediately knew what he wanted for a lifelong career. Drew strives to make his students feel comfortable and safe while incorporating best flying practices in order to train the safest pilots possible.
Otis Biggs
Flight Instructor
CFI, CFII
otis@neworleansairplanes.com
Otis Biggs Picture
Otis’s love for making his bio is completely surpassed by his love for flying.
Michael Cooper
Flight Instructor
CFI, MEI
mikec@neworleansairplanes.com
Mike Cooper Picture
 Mike Cooper is a life-long resident of Mandeville, Louisiana.  He first started taking flying lessons in 2006, but life had other plans for his next few years.  Mike studied Political Science and History, and received a bachelors degree from Southeastern Louisiana University.  It wasn’t until he boarded a return flight from a European backpacking trip in 2009 that he decided he wanted to pursue a career in aviation.  He decided to get serious about flying and moved to Daytona Beach, Florida where he quickly progressed through his certificates and ratings.  In his time away from instructing, he enjoys gaining experience in many different aircrafts, including everything from Beechcraft Bonanzas to King Airs and even Cessna Citation jets.  He is currently the Safety Officer for the Civil Air Patrol St. Tammany Squadron.  Mike’s other interests include cars, racing, motorcycles, vintage and high-end audio equipment, indoor rock climbing, weight lifting and homebrewing craft beer.
Steve Knapper
Chief Flight Instructor
CFI, CFII

steve@neworleansairplanes.com
Steve Knapper Picture
Steve, our Chief Instructor, is the old “guiding hand” of our instructional team, offering advice daily to both instructors and students alike.  Soloing in 1968, Steve has logged 4,300 hours flying both charter and student instruction.  Aviation is his passion as evidenced by his 30 + years as a Civil Air Patrol search and rescue pilot and check airman for the New Orleans area.  In his spare time, Steve is a FAAsteam Representative giving instruction towards the Wings program.
Emmet Bartholomew
Tour/Survey Pilot
emmet@neworleansairplanes.com

Emmet Picture
Emmet is a lifelong resident of the area and began his flying career here at Lakefront Airport, earning his commercial, instrument and multi-engine ratings.  His passion for aviation, along with his lifetime interests of New Orleans history, romance and mysteries provides our aerial tour customers with an incredibly unique and memorable experiences.  He serves with the U.S. Air Force’s Civil Air Patrol where he holds the rank of Captain, Mission Pilot and is the New Orleans Billy Mitchell Senior Squadron’s Safety Officer.  Emmet majored in Music at the University of New Orleans, has had the pleasure of performing music and stand-up comedy professionally throughout points of his career and also flies as a corporate pilot.  He attributes his diverse life experiences and passion for aviation in shaping him into a well-balanced, safety conscious pilot.
David Cusimano
Director
CFI, CFII, MEI

david@neworleansairplanes.com Cusimano Picture
David earned his Private license over ten years ago right here in New Orleans. While working as an Aerospace Engineer for Lockheed Martin on the Joint Strike Fighter F-35 Aerodynamics team, he continued his flight lessons and earned his Instrument Rating in Arlington, TX and his Commercial, CFI, and CFII in Grand Prairie, TX. After deciding that he would rather fly the planes than make them, he left the engineering world and completed all of his Multi-engine Ratings in Fort Lauderdale, FL. David also earned the FAA’s highest pilot certificate, the Airline Transport Pilot (ATP), in a DA42′s. He brings both flying knowledge and the firm understanding of aerodynamics, which is essential for instructing advanced students, to the team. He is easily able to convey his skills to both beginning and advanced students alike. David holds a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Louisiana State University and a M.A. in Economics from The University of Texas at Arlington and an MBA in Finance and International Business from Tulane University. David is also an economics and entrepreneurship instructor for Tulane University and Delgado Community College. David’s primary role today is an advisor for Gulf Coast Aviation.
Jenn Dredge
Office Manager
jenn@neworleansairplanes.com

Jenn Picture

Jennifer is from Utah and grew up listening to her grandfather’s stories about flying in WWII and afterwards flying for commercial airliners. He absolutely loved flying! She was very excited to tell her grandfather about her first job in aviation, working for an FBO at the Lakefront airport.  After cutting her teeth there she moved over to Gulf Coast Aviation as our Front Office Manager. She comes with years of experience in management, and sales and marketing.  She is very excited to be a part of the team!
Robert Claypool
Managing Partner
robert@neworleansairplanes.com

Robert Picture

Robert had the good fortune to learn about general aviation in high school when he was allowed to take a trip to Mississippi in a ‘small plane.’  At that moment he was hooked.  As his career of Risk Engineer started to grow, he would take ad-hoc lessons from anyone that had a “Flight Instructor” shingle hanging up.  In 2008 he realized that he had to get more astute if he was to realize his goal of becoming a pilot.  After researching his options, he chose Gulf Coast Aviation based on their attention to fleet maintenance, and their teaching curriculum.   In fact, he decided that he liked the school so much, that when a few of the partners were leaving New Orleans, he purchased their shares. Today, Robert is actively involved in the aviation community.  He is also one of 5 members selected to the Cessna Pilot Schools Advisory Group.