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Aviation Institute
Aviation Institute


D.K. (Denny) Acheson

Col. (ret.) D.K. (Denny) Acheson was awarded Emeritus Faculty status after retiring from full-time teaching with the Aviation Institute in May, 2004.  Denny served as Senior Community Service Associate in the College of Public Affairs and Community Service and was instrumental in the development of the Institute’s undergraduate aviation programs.

He received his Bachelor of Science degree in History and Political Science from Purdue University and earned a Master of Political Science from Auburn University. 

A veteran U.S. Air Force Command Pilot, he acquired nearly 5,600 flying hours, primarily in C-130 and KC-135 aircraft. A Life Member of the  Air Force Association, he is a past president of the Nebraska State Air Force Association as well as a Life Member of the Military Order of the Purple Heart and Daedalians.   The UNO College of Continuing Studies named him Teacher of the Year for 1999-2000.  He was inducted into the Purdue University ROTC Hall of Fame in April 2002.  

David A. Byers

David A. Byers

Professor Byers currently serves as an associate professor for the Aviation Institute.  He teaches courses in Airport Planning, Design, and Management in addition to courses for other aviation- related topics such as aviation technical writing.

David Byers holds a B.S. in Air Commerce (Transportation Technology) from Florida Institute of Technology, an MBA-Aviation from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, and a Ph.D. in Science Education (Aviation) from Florida Institute of Technology. 

In addition to his academic credentials, he brings 30+ years of experience in airport facilities development, environmental analysis, and financial planning with commercial service and general aviation airports throughout the U.S.  He also serves on the policy board of the U.S. Contract Tower Association (USCTA), representing a constituency of over 240 airports.

Dave started flying in 1973 and holds a Commercial Pilot Certificate with Instrument Rating (1,700 flight hours) and an Airframe & Powerplant Mechanic’s License.  He is a certified member of the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE) and the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP).

Michael Ferguson

Michael Ferguson

Michael Ferguson is an Instructor for the Aviation Institute. He has over 20 years of aviation industry and higher education experience serving in various front-line and leadership positions. He has significant operations and safety leadership experience in the major and regional airline industry. He teaches various courses including Aviation Safety, Aviation Security, and Intro to Aviation and Aerospace. He is the co-author of Aviation Safety: A Balanced Industry Approach; a collegiate textbook published by Cengage Learning in January 2013.

Michael holds a B.A. in Geography (Atmospheric Science specialization) from Bowling Green State University, an M.S. in Urban Studies (Aviation Administration specialization) from the University of Nebraska, Omaha, and is currently working toward the completion of an Ed.D. (2014 completion; doctoral dissertation in progress) in Higher Education Administration. His research interests are in aviation safety and policy, particularly in the area of Safety Management Systems at airlines, airports corporate aircraft operators, and in organizational culture change.

He is married to Doreen and they have three sons. He loves the outdoors and enjoys archery, hunting, fishing, hiking, canoeing, kayaking, etc. He is also an avid musician who plays the electric bass and drums. He holds a private pilot SEL and Advanced and Instrument Ground Instructor certifications.


Becky Lutte

Becky Lutte

Becky Lutte is an Assistant Professor for the Aviation Institute. Her degrees include a B.S. Professional Aeronautics, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University: M.P.A. with an Aviation Minor, University of Nebraska at Omaha: and a Ph.D., Public Administration, Aviation Specialization, University of Nebraska at Omaha.

A former regional airline pilot, Professor Lutte has a commercial pilot, SEL, MEL, instrument rating, CFI, CFII, & MEII. In addition, Becky Lutte is an aircraft owner of a homebuilt RV-7 and is active in general aviation.

Based in Texas, Professor Lutte specializes in distance education course development and delivery. Courses taught include many graduate and undergraduate courses in both public administration and aviation. Her research interests are in the areas of aviation safety policy and training in the United States and Internationally with emphasis on Africa. She also serves on the board for a nonprofit organization that promotes music education through jazz.  


David G. Smith

David G. Smith

Dave Smith's responsibilities as the Aviation Institute’s Flight Training Coordinator include oversight and instruction of pilot certification courses, supervising all simulator laboratory courses, and coordinating with UNO’s flight training providers. His top priority is to instill a professional ethos into all UNOAI pilots through a rigorous academic and practical training curriculum.

Dave earned his B.S. in Civil Engineering and his M.S. in Civil Engineering from Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia.

A retired US Air Force Lieutenant Colonel and pilot, Dave has over 4,500 flight hours in the KC-135, RC-135 and T-38.  He is a veteran of the Persian Gulf and Balkan conflicts, a former primary and advanced USAF instructor pilot.  He has extensive experience in operations management, budgeting, aircraft acquisition, and organizational innovation.

Dave is currently the Chief of Staff of the Civil Air Patrol’s Nebraska Wing.  The CAP is the civilian auxiliary of the USAF and the Nebraska Wing’s volunteer pilots fly 5 Cessna 172/182 aircraft to provide search-and-rescue missions and aerial reconnaissance in support of disaster relief operations.  Dave also serves as a director on the boards of Concordia Lutheran Schools of Omaha and Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church of La Vista.

Brett Teten

Brett Teten

Brett Teten is the Flight Standards Coordinator for the Aviation Institute. His duties include; instruction of pilot certification courses, and mentoring and supervision of flight students and contract flight instructors. He is also an assistant coach for the Aviation Institute’s Flight Team, the Flying Mavs. He is tasked with continuing to improve the safety, quality, competence, and professionalism of UNO flight students.

Brett has a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree, both in English, from UNO.
Prior to working at UNO, Brett was a charter and corporate pilot for several companies in the Omaha area. He holds an ATP Certificate with several type ratings, as well as a CFI, CFII, and MEI. Brett has over 7000 hours of flight time, and stays active in flying through instructing and some part – time corporate work.

Brett has a variety of interests outside of aviation. He enjoys old cars, cycling, motorcycles, kayaking, archery, and his family. His wife is also a UNO faculty member.

Scott Vlasek

Scott E. Vlasek, MPA

Mr. Vlasek is the Director of the Aviation Institute.  He holds a Master of Public Administration with an Aviation Administration minor as well as a Bachelor’s degree in Aviation Studies with minor concentrations in Space Studies and Criminal Justice from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Mr. Vlasek’s teaching includes Introduction to Aviation, History of Aviation, Business and Corporate Aviation Management, General Aviation Services.  He is currently developing an Airline Management course that utilizes computer simulation.

Mr. Vlasek oversees the Aviation Institute’s internship program and is faculty advisor to the Institute’s Flight Team, the Flying Mavs, which is sponsored by Jet Linx Aviation.  Scott is active in a number of aviation organizations including the Nebraska Business Aviation Association, the University Aviation Association, and the National Intercollegiate Flying Association.  He also serves as post advisor for the local Boy Scouts of America Aviation Explorers Post.  Vlasek is perhaps most well known for his efforts in establishing and managing the annual UNOAI Golf Classic, which has raised over $58,000 for student scholarships in the last 14 years.

Scott holds a Private Pilot Certificate and enjoys golf, swimming, UNO Hockey, and spending time with his wife, Karisa, and their 2-year-old daughter.

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