Philip ‘O.P.’ Oppenheimer (LCol Retired)

AZ Director of Flight Operations

Philip ‘O.P.’ Oppenheimer (LCol Retired)

Philip Oppenheimer, callsign ‘O.P.’, is an Advanced Instructor Pilot and Master Certified Flight Instructor for Aviation Performance Solutions, LLC (APS). The breadth and depth of his flying experience has provided a strong foundation to pursue continuing advances in the unique flight training that APS has developed, as well as expanding the delivery of their advanced pilot training techniques. Mr. Oppenheimer joined APS in 2001 after a distinguished 20 year career in the US Air Force, collectively bringing him to over 35 years of flight operations and training experience as a pilot and aviation manager.

Professional Background

Lieutenant Colonel (Ret) Philip ‘O.P.’ Oppenheimer was raised in Mahopac, NY.  He received his USAF commission from the ROTC Program, Texas A&M University in 1979 along with a BS in Education, Curriculum and Instruction, Math and Physics and in 1996 received an MA- in Military Studies (History) from American Military University.  O.P. completed Undergraduate Pilot Training at Vance AFB, OK, flying the T-37 and T-38.  His operational flying assignments included flying the A-10 at Myrtle Beach, SC; the A/OA-37 at Howard AFB, Panama; the F-16A/B and F-16C/D at Hill AFB, UT; and F-16C/D at Luke AFB, AZ.  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.  Non-flying assignments included in-residence Air Command and Staff College at Montgomery, AL and J3 Current Air Operations Officer at US Central Command, MacDill AFB, FL.  During his 20 year 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. O.P. 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).

Following his military career, O.P. retired from the Air Force in 2001.  He has worked for Aviation Performance Solutions as an Advanced Upset Prevention and Recovery Training Instructor since March 2001, and since joining APS, Mr. Oppenheimer has been a valued ground and flight instructor resource in helping to build APS’ UPRT program to include development of the original academic Powerpoint briefings and writing articles dedicated to improving pilots’ skill sets in time-critical, life-threatening situations. He also coordinated, developed the curriculum and flight profiles, provided ground training 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.

From 2001 through 2007, O.P. was also a Beechjet Captain (FAR Part 135) for Southwest Jet Aviation, Scottsdale, AZ and performed contract flying (FAR Part 91) in the King Air B-200. He also flew for DMB Real Estate Development Corporation/Dorrand Aviation (Scottsdale, AZ) as a Part 91 contract pilot on the Citation XL and Citation X.

In addition, from 2001 through 2016, 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, AZ and M&M Air Service, Beaumont, TX.  Aircraft flown included the M-18 Dromader, S2R-G10, S2R-T45, S2R-T660, Air Tractor 602 and 802.

From 2002 to 2017 O.P. was also 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, AZ 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.

Since 2002, O.P. has also been the President of OP Aviation & Consulting, LLC.  He was an FAA Aviation Safety Counselor (2002-2005); Aviation Safety Consultant and Aerial Firefighting Operations Risk Management (ORM) Instructor for the USDOI/BLM National SEAT Academy, US Forest Service, National Aerial Firefighting Academy/National Aerial Firefighting Resource Institute (NAFA / NAFRI); ORM Instructor for the Arizona Department of Game and Fish.  He also owns an Extra 300L, Cessna T-207 and Cessna 180H. O.P. also worked for the Rickard Consulting Group (2004-2007) as a contractor consultant and F-16 Subject Matter Expert and Simulator IP at the USAF Research Laboratory (AFRL), Mesa, AZ.

Instructor Qualifications

  • 10,300 flight hours
  • Airline Transport Pilot (ATP)
  • Commercial MEL, SEL
  • Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) / Instrument Instructor Airplane (CFII)
  • Master 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)