Devan Shepherd


Devan Shepherd flight instructs part-time, but his passion for flying and desire to share that with others is a full-time occupation. He owns XMalpha Technologies, a software development company, and is an adjunct professor at St. Paul College and the University of Minnesota. “My goal is to encourage new pilots, support GA, ensure retention, and keep older pilots flying,” he says.

Shepherd says he is a strong advocate of the scenario-based training approach to flight instruction. “Scenarios offer an opportunity to make training more realistic and purposeful,” he says. “The goal can (and should) be one of developing critical thinking and flight management skills together. Scenario-based instruction gives a CFI a chance to integrate basic motor skills and repetitive behaviors with aeronautical decision-making, risk Management, single-pilot resource management, advanced avionics automation management, and situational awareness—all topics that seem to be in need of improvement according to accident statistics.”

Shepherd’s students cite his professionalism and his ability to provide encouragement as well as constructive feedback, among other attributes.

Teaching takeaway: Simulators are cheaper and faster for the customer, and promote safety, Shepherd says. “I can give students in-flight failures and weather conditions that help build effective responses and experience, by exposure to a variety of situations. The airlines have used simulation and repetitive/recurrent training for many years, and their safe records reflect the benefits.”