Instructors Association Faces Law Suit by Ex-Board Members

The National Association of Flight Instructors (NAFI) is the target of a lawsuit alleging illegal use of intellectual property. The plaintiffs include Sandy and JoAnn Hill, two former directors of NAFI, who claim the association is using instructional materials they created. Also listed as a plaintiff is Rich Stowell, who created the aerobatic section of the materials in question. The Hills were ousted as directors of NAFI in a contentious dispute among the board of directors, and subsequently were behind the formation of a rival instructors' group known as SAFE (Society of Aviation and Flight Educators). The material in dispute is the Master Instructor program developed by the Hills and Stowell. After the Hills' ouster, NAFI continued to use the criteria associated with the Master Instructor program, and the plaintiffs claim that represents illicit use of intellectual property. Court papers claiming copyright infringement and unfair competition were filed in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California on Sept. 21. The suit seeks injunctive relief and damages.

Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.

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