Stick & Rudder Aviation was founded in 2008 with the mission to provide a unique opportunity to train in the canyons and mountains of Idaho in a well-respected, high-performance tailwheel aircraft. Stick & Rudder Aviation’s on-going success is due largely in part to it’s close working relationship and support of the aircraft manufacturer Kitfox Aircraft LLC. Our flight training programs are tailor-made to the individual’s dreams and goals. Flight training may be obtained for as simple as a biennual flight review to a tailwheel endorsement and on to pilot licensing; culminating with our advanced training specialty of Backcountry Training Tours.
PAUL LEADABRAND, FOUNDER & CHIEF FLIGHT INSTRUCTOR
Paul Leadabrand is the founder, corporate managing member and chief flight instructor of Stick & Rudder Aviation. Paul grew up with flying parents in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest and has made a career as a pilot. While his diverse background spans Mountaineer, Search & Rescue instructor, Paramedic, Fire-fighter, Forest Ranger, Para-professional Archaeologist, Law Enforcement officer and White Water Raft guide…he has always been a pilot.
The majority of Paul’s 19,000 hour, 45 year flying career has been in the on-demand charter and corporate segment of general aviation. His career has included everything from captaining light-jets around the world, to flying air ambulance on dark & stormy nights, to ferrying single-engine aircraft across the Atlantic, to flying llamas and ice-cream into the remote airstrips in the mountain canyons of Idaho. Paul confidently brings the “barnstorming-like” joy of flying back into flight instruction with his safe, common-sense, practical approach.
5 TAILWHEEL KITFOX’S:
All five Kitfox’s in our fleet are factory-built with glass cockpits, including Airframes Alaska Airstreaks + T-3 tailwheel suspension. All aircraft are less than 6 years old.
- Rotax 914 (turbo) – 115 HP – meets the definition of “Light Sport” for Sport Pilot training – Advanced Flight Sytems screen
- Rotax 912isSport (fuel injected) – 100 HP – with AirMaster constant speed prop – Advanced Flight Sytems screen
- Rotax 915 (Injected and Turbo charged) – 141 HP – with an MT hydraulic constant speed prop – STi wing – Monster gear
- Rotax 914 with AirMaster prop
- (New) Rotax 915 with MT prop – Garmin G3 avionics suite
GET TO KNOW OUR FLIGHT INSTRUCTORS
LEON DAVIS, CFI
Have you had a past profession outside of aviation? If so, what? Climbing guide in Washington, Alaska, Colorado, Ecuador and Argentina
What was your past schooling emphasis or degree in (prior to aviation)? Architecture and Music at Virginia Tech
Where have you lived in your life? Grew up in a Military family moving every few years all over the country
Where are you most at home? Literally or figuratively. Southwest Appalachia and the Pacific Northwest
How and/or why did you get started in aviation? Hanging out in the hanger waiting for flyable weather into the Alaska Range, the pilots and climbers got to talking about similarities in our experiences. The pilots were interested on how we managed risk on the mountain and as climbers, we all wondered how they made decisions when flying among the mountains. We all thought the pilots were just the coolest and became good friends fast. One of the old timers put the idea in my head that I should give it a shot, and here I am 6 years later.
What kind of airplane did you learn to fly in? Kitfox
Where did you learn how to fly? Stick & Rudder Aviation
Why do you enjoy flying the Kitfox? It is an absolute pleasure to fly.
It demands the best performance out of me in order to unlock it’s full potential
What hobbies outside of aviation do you have a passion for? Climbing, Fly Fishing
If you could go anywhere in any aircraft, where would you go and what would you fly? DeHaviland Otter at the South Pole
MARK SPRAGUE, CFI
Have you had a past profession outside of aviation? If so, what? My wife and I owned a photography business together for 14 years.
What was your past schooling emphasis or degree in (prior to aviation)? Photography
Where have you lived in your life? I grew up in Iowa, then spent 15 years in Colorado before moving to Idaho to work with Stick & Rudder. I also did a small stint in the Arizona desert but the heat wasn’t for me.
Where are you most at home? Literally or figuratively. The mountains.
How and/or why did you get started in aviation? My first flight in a small plane was with a friend’s dad which got me addicted to learning more via simulators. After meeting my wife and flying in her dad’s Bonanza, I realized aviation was more accessible than I thought.
What kind of airplane did you learn to fly in? Cessna 172
Where did you learn how to fly? Lake Havasu City, AZ
Why do you enjoy flying the Kitfox? The visibility and control forces are like those of a fighter jet. The ruggedness and utility are like those of an off road vehicle. A 4x4 fighter jet. I can’t think of anything more fun to fly.
What do you enjoy about being a flight instructor? Helping others fulfill lifelong dreams. Watching the light go on when it “clicks”.
What hobbies outside of aviation do you have a passion for? Taking time off in the winter to camp throughout the Southwest in my truck camper.
Favorite aviation memory: I bought a Kitfox in 2016 that hadn’t run for 10 years. I spent four months reburbishing the motor. That first flight is a day I’ll never forget.
If you could go anywhere in any aircraft, where would you go and what would you fly? Too many to pick. If money were no factor, I would convert a Grumman Goose into an RV in the sky and live a life of perpetual flight.
If you could change the world in regards to aviation, what would you change? Can you make an impact? The barrier to entry is high, mostly due to regulation. Being a pilot, I often find people fascinated with the idea that I can fly “anywhere, anytime”. As though they have never considered it a possibility. It is an attainable goal for most, and aviation should be a bigger part of our day to day life. Lawyers and regulation have turned it into something less accessible than it should be. Leading by example and sharing the joy of taking flight with others is how I contribute to increasing pilot population numbers.
CADE PALMER, CFI
Have you had a past profession outside of aviation? If so, what? I did a few years in the Idaho Air Guard as an ejection seat mechanic before starting work in the paragliding industry instructing, offering tandem flights, and working as a test pilot for Ozone Paragliders.
What was your past schooling emphasis or degree in (prior to aviation)? I started out in criminal justice before seeing the light and changing to professional aviation.
Where have you lived in your life? I have been lucky enough to live some amazing places. Seasonal paragliding work made travel almost mandatory. I have lived 10 summers in Jackson Hole, WY and it has taken me all over the world in the winters. New Zealand, Nepal, Europe, Africa and Central America to name a few.
Where are you most at home? Literally or figuratively. In the mountains.
Do you have family locally? Do you have kids? Pets? My parents live in Emmett, ID right on the way into the backcountry. It’s fun to land in their backyard. My spouse, Becca, and I have a dog named Tala that loves to fly, both paragliders and planes.
How and/or why did you get started in aviation? My father was a fighter pilot and I grew up around planes, when he retired he bought into a plane to teach my brothers and I to fly.
What kind of airplane did you learn to fly in? A Cessna 172
Where did you learn how to fly? I started in Nampa, ID and did most of it there, but some of my training was in Jackson, WY and even in New Zealand.
Why do you enjoy flying the Kitfox? The fun factor for sure! They are quick and agile, the view with the clear doors and overhead is unbeatable, it makes going into and out of short strips a breeze, and it hardly burns any fuel, so staying up an extra hour or two doesn’t hurt the wallet.
What do you enjoy about being a flight instructor? I have always enjoyed sharing flight, it’s a great feeling to introduce people to a whole new dimension of experiencing the world. And its very rewarding to help people through a challenging commitment like learning how to fly.
What hobbies outside of aviation do you have a passion for? I like to ski, mountain bike, getting out on rivers either with a raft or a paddle board. I like being outside, especially in the wilderness, places that make me feel small.
Favorite aviation memory: Climbing and then paragliding off a 13,000ft active volcano in Guatemala with a great group of friends and then watching an eruption from the air over the top of the clouds on the way down.
If you could go anywhere in any aircraft, where would you go and what would you fly? Hard to pick just one, flying my kitfox to Alaska is high on my list right now, Iceland is a dream as well.
If you could change the world in regards to aviation, what would you change? Can you make an impact? I would like to make flying more accessible to anybody who wants to try but doesn’t have the means. I would also like to see the aviation industry become less fossil fuel dependent. It is an exciting time for electric motors and battery technology and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.
DARIN MOODY, CFI
Have you had a past profession outside of aviation? If so, what? I sold motorcycles while in college, other than that aviation has been my profession.
What was your past schooling emphasis or degree in (prior to aviation)? I have a Bachelors of Science in Aviation Businesses Administration
Where have you lived in your life? Southern California and Idaho. Fun fact, I used to lived in a hangar on an airport for 5 years.
Where are you most at home? Literally or figuratively. I spend a lot of time on the road, so literally at home. But I’ve always felt like I should have been in Idaho.
How and/or why did you get started in aviation? My dad was a corporate pilot for over 40 years and I grew up at the airport around the various flight departments he managed. So I’ve always been around airplanes and had an interest in aviation.
What kind of airplane did you learn to fly in? A Beech Travelair and a Cessna 152.
Where did you learn how to fly? I soloed out of Oreland, CA in the summer of 1999. I finished up all my other ratings between CMA, VNY, WHP, & SZP in Southern California.
Why do you enjoy flying the Kitfox? Low, slow & getting the tires dirty.
What do you enjoy about being a flight instructor? Teaching and getting the opportunity to transfer the aviation knowledge I’ve received to others.
What hobbies outside of aviation do you have a passion for? Motorcycles, shooting sports, mountain biking, camping, hunting, fishing, exploring, I take my amateur photography pretty seriously. Really anything that gets me outdoors.
Favorite aviation memory: There’s a few… One was when my dad let me sit left seat and hand fly his Lockheed Jetstar. Another is flying my Barnstorming airshow routine in a Great Lakes low-level for the first time for Wayne Handley at Delano for my ACE Card Evaluation.
If you could go anywhere in any aircraft, where would you go and what would you fly? Depends on the airplane… If it’s aerobatic, I wouldn’t need to go far as long as at least half my time was spent upside-down. In something like the Kitfox, a week of exploring the backcountry of ID, OR, NV & CA and camping would be nice.
If you could change the world in regards to aviation, what would you change? Can you make an impact? To keep flying fun. I do my best.
Our Greenleaf Air Ranch location in Greenleaf, Idaho is easy to get to from anywhere in the world. All the major airlines provide service to nearby Boise Airport. There are a vast array of accommodations, restaurants and activities for your co-pilot to enjoy throughout the Treasure Valley area. See our Trip Planning Guide for recommendations.
Stick & Rudder Aviation operates year-round (winter weather permitting) with the surrounding Treasure Valley being in the rain shadow of the most severe Pacific Northwest storms. Our moderate, 4 equal seasons offers more blue-sky flying days than not. Idaho’s 75+ un-paved backcountry airstrips are typically clear of snow April through November.
CLICK HERE FOR A PRINTABLE MAP & DIRECTIONS TO OUR GREENLEAF, ID LOCATION.
“Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.”
― Leonardo da Vinci