Nancy Grazzini-Olson has been Thunderbird’s President since 1990, and owner of our Company since 2000. Under her leadership, Thunderbird has grown to become one of the premiere providers of flight training and general aviation services in the upper Midwest. Nancy is a graduate of the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, and she is active in numerous business and philanthropic activities in the Twin Cities region.
Christopher M. Cape
General Manager and Director of Operations
Chris has worked for Thunderbird Aviation since 2006. He began his tenure here as Operations Manager of our Crystal Airport location, where he worked to rebrand the business from Academy Flight Operations to Thunderbird Aviation Crystal. In June 2007, he accepted a position as Operations Manager of our Flying Cloud location and also assumed the role of Chief Pilot for our Air Carrier operations. In August 2008, Chris was promoted to General Manager, overseeing all operations at both locations, as well as assuming the role of Director of Operations on Thunderbird’s FAR 135 Air Carrier Certificate. Before arriving at Thunderbird, Chris spent seven years as a commercial pilot, flying for both US Airways Express/Piedmont Airlines and Atlantic Southeast Airlines. Chris graduated from the University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, and holds both a Master of Science degree in Aviation and a Bachelor of Science degree in Commercial Aviation. He has over 5,500 hours of flying experience and is type rated in various aircraft, including the De Havilland Dash 8 and Bombardier CRJ.
Chief Flight Instructor
Fred Nauer has been involved in aircraft maintenance and flying in the Air Force, flew as a first officer in the airlines, worked in a college aerospace program, and as an aircrew training instructor at Delta/Northwest Airlines, Inc. While United States Air Force, his first assignment was as an Aircraft Maintenance Officer.
He supervised crew chiefs (aircraft mechanics), avionics technicians and engine mechanics. He was chosen to go to navigator training and was assigned to fly the F-4E as a Weapons System Officer (WSO) after graduation. As a WSO he was trained in California, fought the Cold War in West Germany and finished up in North Carolina. After he was released from the Air Force, he started pilot training. Because of his experience as a navigator, he progressed very quickly through the training and became both a ground instructor and a flight instructor.
Fred flew for Mesaba Airlines in the Avro RJ-85 (BAC-146) as a first officer. He has taught at the high school, community college and the university level. He is renowned for his skill as a flight instructor. He was an adjunct professor at Middle Tennessee State University working on research and teaching methods to find ways to efficiently introduce the glass cockpit aircraft to the general aviation community. He was inducted into the National Association of Flight Instructors Hall of Fame in 2015. He currently has logged 5,000 hours in numerous aircraft.
Director of Maintenance
Shane joined Thunderbird Aviation in 2014. He started his aviation career in 1997 when he began his active duty enlistment at Naval Recruit Training Center Great Lakes then moving on to Pensacola, FL where he attended the Aviation Hydraulics and Structures Technician School. After five years he decided to end his active duty career and affiliate with the Navy Reserves. Shane graduated from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in December 2004 where he earned a Bachelors of Science in Professional Aeronautics with minors in Aviation Safety, Industrial Safety, and Business Administration. He also obtained his FAA airframe and power plant license, along with his single engine private pilot license. Then he went on to earn his Masters of Business Administration in 2010 from Marylhurst University. After Shane completed his academic goals he was selected to become a commissioned officer in the Navy Reserves as Aerospace Engineer.
Clarissa Adams is an Operations Supervisor, based from our Flying Cloud Airport location. She started working for us in 2010 as a Customer Service Representative and was promoted to her current role in 2012. Clarissa also manages many of the day to day functions of Thunderbird's charter operations, from quoting to trip support. Her interest in Aviation began as a child, in Crane Lake, MN, across the bay from a sea plane base. Those summer trips to the lake watching sea planes depart carried her interest all the way to college, where she studied aviation. Clarissa is a 2007 graduate of Saint Cloud State University and holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Management with a Minor in Aviation Management.
Jake joined Thunderbird Aviation in the summer of 2014 as a Dispatcher/CSR. In April of 2015, he transferred to our Crystal location. Prior to joining Thunderbird, he received his degree in Aviation Management from the University of North Dakota. While enrolled at UND, Jake spent his summers working at elementary and middle schools in the metro area, acting as a youth coordinator, directing/coaching athletics, music and aviation mini-camps. He is a holder of a private pilot certificate and has received flight training in numerous aircraft, highlighted by a great experience practicing dogfighting maneuvers in a SIAI Marchetti SF-260 fighter trainer (shown in the above picture).