Does GOAT (Greatest of All Time) only apply to athletes? If so, I’m going to suggest that it shouldn’t – and those of you who know Jeff Wolf will agree. Jeff is my business partner and Chief Flight Instructor extraordinaire, and for readers who know Jeff, you know it’s not an exaggeration to describe him as an exceptional guy. If the secret to Paragon Flight’s success is the not-so-secret philosophy of hiring and nurturing good humans in a relentlessly positive environment, Jeff is the personification of that philosophy. (Read his bio here.)
I’m heaping all these accolades on Jeff, not only because he deserves them, but because on November 3, he officially received the coveted 2022 Excellence in Pilot Training honor in Miami from the National Air Transportation Association. This award follows Paragon Flight receiving recognition by The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA)’s 2021-22 Flight Training Experience Awards as a Distinguished Flight School, a title given to the highest rated flight schools from the 2021-22 Flight Training Experience Survey.
In putting together this tribute, we reached out to a few of Jeff’s former students to get some comments on how he impacted their flight training. Talk about opening the floodgates! Every submission had to be shortened; literally, none could say enough good things about Jeff. Here are a few:
Jay Hirshberg: “My time with Jeff Wolf began mid-way through my PPL training (I’m now instrument rated with a bunch of endorsements and about to start commercial) – I was having trouble figuring out landings in a 172. I was super intimidated flying with the ‘Air Boss’ but Jeff took me up and in 30 minutes had me landing just fine. Being a bit older than the average student, that stuck with me – his easy way and soft-spoken nature.
The next time I flew with Jeff was for a Stage 3 check ride for my private license. I remember him being on one hand at-ease but on another rigorous in evaluating my performance. We flew to 3 airports and did 5 touch-and-go’s. He was clear on his expectations and supportive but needed to see ‘the goods’ in action. I remember being so grateful for his time (he spent 4 hours with me that day). I’m just one student but he carved out a lot of his day to help me which I was very appreciative for. …It’s not often you find an owner-manager like Jeff that is both soft-spoken yet leads by direction and example. It’s no coincidence that (Paragon Fight) is successful…it is only a result of those who run the business – a reflection of who these people are.”
Courtney Powell: “I was fortunate enough to learn from Jeff as a student and instructor. His knowledge, level of standards, patience and thoughtfulness are unlike any other instructor, chief flight instructor, or pilot I’ve met thus far. Any school can have all of the resources necessary to learn – and great ambiance – but you need a special sauce to seal the deal and that’s Jeff. He makes himself available for any student and really makes you feel like you belong. His knowledge was so inspirational that it drove me to study even harder.
As an instructor, Jeff’s insight is unmatched. He challenges you to never waiver from the highest of standards, to share the love of aviation with students, and to continuously gain more knowledge to be a stronger pilot/instructor. Anytime I had a question and/or hit a wall with a student’s learning, Jeff was always able to give guidance/insight to help the student continue their track. Most of the time that involved ‘Jeff’s Magic’ and boom, the student would overcome any hurdles. For instance, I had a student who just couldn’t get the flare down. I had a couple of other instructors fly with them to see if one of their techniques would click for the student, but to no avail. One flight with Jeff, and that student had absolutely beautiful landings.
Jeff is so deserving of this award and I’m so thankful to have learned from him as a student and instructor. To this day, Jeff makes himself available to be a mentor with no gain for himself. That’s why he is the epitome of “excellence in flight training.”
Jim Addis: “Jeff did a tremendous job helping me complete my MEI. He made very complicated ground topics easy to understand. The ultimate CFI professional! I appreciate everything he did for me.”
Ron Kopec: “…Working on attaining my private pilot’s license, Jeff had me fly with him for a stage 2 check. I really never knew Jeff, or even had many conversations with him at Paragon other than some small chat. When he was flying with me on that stage check, the knowledge he shared helped me tremendously in just that one hour flight. Jeff’s caliber, knowledge, and professionalism stuck with me ever since. By the grace of God, I consider myself very fortunate to be able to share in my training with Jeff. His knowledge goes past the plane… Congratulations to Jeff Wolf!”
I’m sure we could find literally hundreds of other former students who’d speak highly of Jeff wolf, but I think you get the picture. And Jeff gets the GOAT.