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Philip ‘O.P.’ Oppenheimer

AZ Director of Flight Operations

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Philip Oppenheimer, call sign ‘O.P.,’ joined APS in 2001 after a distinguished 20-year career in the U.S. Air Force, collectively bringing him to over 35 years of flight operations and training experience as a pilot and aviation manager.

A retired Lieutenant Colonel, O.P. was raised in Mahopac, N.Y. He received his USAF commission from the ROTC Program, Texas A&M University in 1979 along with a B.S. in Education, Curriculum and Instruction, Math and Physics and a M.A. in Military Studies (History) from American Military University. O.P. completed undergraduate pilot training at Vance AFB, Oklahoma, flying the T-37 and T-38. His operational flying assignments included flying the A-10 at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; the A/OA-37 at Howard AFB, Panama; the F-16A/B and F-16C/D at Hill AFB, Utah; and F-16C/D at Luke AFB, Arizona. During his F-16 tour at Hill AFB, O.P. deployed in support of Operation Desert Shield and flew 28 missions and 136 combat flight hours in support of Operation Desert Storm.

During his Air Force career, O.P. was a military formal course and line operations instructor pilot and flight examiner in the A/OA-37 and F-16. He also served as squadron chiefs of mobility, scheduling, training, standardization and evaluation (Stan/Eval), flight commander, wing assistant chief and wing chief of Stan/Eval, squadron assistant operations and operations officer, joint current air operations officer, and culminated as the commander of the 309th Fighter Squadron (F-16).

Upon retiring from the Air Force in 2001, O.P. joined APS as an advanced UPRT instructor and has since helped build APS’s UPRT program. He also coordinated, developed the curriculum and flight profiles for, provided ground training for, and flew as an instructor in the A-4 (and Alpha Jet) High Altitude UPRT Program(s) in support of the overall APS UPRT Program.

O.P. also flew commercially. Since military retirement he’s flown as a Beechjet Captain (FAR Part 135) for Southwest Jet Aviation, Scottsdale, Arizona, flew FAR Part 91 contract flights in the King Air B-200, and flew for DMB Real Estate Development Corporation/Dorrand Aviation (Scottsdale, Arizona) as a Part 91 contract pilot on the Citation XL and Citation X.

Additionally, O.P. flew and dropped on fires throughout the western US and was a qualified Department of the Interior/Bureau of Land Management (USDOI/BLM) Level I Single Engine Air Tanker (SEAT) Pilot/Instructor Pilot for Western Pilot Service, Phoenix, Arizona and M&M Air Service, Beaumont, Texas. He’s flown Dromader, S2R-G10, S2R-T45, S2R-T660, Air Tractor 602 and 802 in wildland fire air attack operations.

O.P. also served as the chief pilot and director of flight operations, chief of safety, chief of stan/eval, chief of scheduling and training for Top Aces Corp, Mesa, Arizona and was an A-4 and Alpha Jet formal course instructor pilot (IP), check airman, Transport Canada designated pilot competency check (PCC) flight examiner (A-4), and A-4 functional check flight (FCF) pilot.

Today, in addition to his work at APS, O.P. is the president of OP Aviation & Consulting, LLC. He also owns an Extra 300L, Cessna T-207, and Cessna 180H.

Instructor Qualifications

  • 10,300 Flight Hours
  • Airline Transport Pilot (ATP)
  • Commercial MEL, SEL
  • Certified Flight Instructor (CFI)/Instrument Instructor Airplane (CFII)
  • Master Certified Flight Instructor (CFI)–Aerobatic
  • FAA NVG Instructor (Ground/Flight)
  • Tailwheel, Complex, High Altitude
  • Type Ratings: BE400, MU300
  • Authorized Experimental (Type Rating Equivalent): CE-T37, NH-T38, DC-A4, DO-AJET

Military Awards and Decorations

  • Distinguished Flying Cross (2)
  • Defense Meritorious Service Medal
  • USAF Meritorious Service Medal (2)
  • Air Medal (2)
  • Aerial Achievement Medal (3)
  • Air Force Commendation Medal
  • Joint Service Achievement Medal
  • Combat Readiness Medal
  • National Defense Service Medal
  • Southwest Asia Service Medal (2 Devices)
  • Kuwait Liberation Medal (Saudi Arabia)
  • Kuwait Liberation Medal (Kuwait)

Significant Accomplishments

  • 2017 Featured in February 2017, Aviation International News Article, “Getting the Stomach for Upsets”
  • 2016 Authored Article “A-4 Skyhawk High Altitude Jet Upset Recovery Training” Published on the APS Website.
  • 2009 USDOI/National SEAT Association “Exemplary Service” Award (ORM Training Presentations. Aeronautical Seminars, SEAT Safety Instructional Materials, Safety Messages, Safety Awareness Enhancement, etc.)
  • 2004 Authored Article “The Last Spin” Published in August, 2004 Issue of Plane & Pilot Magazine; Featured in May/June 2004, Issue of Pilot Journal Magazine, “Behind the Teeth and the Microphone”
  • 1999 Selected for USAF Senior Service School – Rand Corporation Fellowship
  • 1997-1998 Below the Zone Promotion to Lt Col (1 year); US Senate-Selected Joint Staff Officer (JSO)
  • 1994 Distinguished Graduate, Air Command and Staff College, Maxwell AFB, AL
  • 1991 Post-DESERT STORM KILLER SCOUT Mission Briefings Presented to The Honorable Dick Cheney (Secretary of Defense), General Colin Powell (Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff), and The Honorable Donald Rice (Secretary of the Air Force); Tactical Air Command (TAC) Flight Commander of the Year Award, 12th Air Force Lance P. Sijan Leadership Award
  • 1992 388th Fighter Wing Top Gun
  • 1990-1991 Flight Commander/Large Force Mission Commander During Operation DESERT SHIELD/DESERT STORM (F-16). 28 Combat Missions/136 Combat Hours
  • 1989 Distinguished Graduate, F-16 Training, MacDill AFB, FL; Air Force Association Professional Pilot Award
  • 1987 Tactical Air Command (TAC) Instructor Pilot of the Year Award, USAF “Well Done” Award (Safety)
  • 1986 TAC Aircrew of Distinction Award (Safety)
  • 1985 354th Tactical Fighter Wing Top Gun
  • 1984 9th Air Force Aircrew of Distinction Award (Safety)


  • Society of Aviation and Flight Educators (SAFE)
  • Member, Upset Prevention and Recovery Training Association (UPRTA)
  • Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA)

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