Nancy Grazzini-Olson President
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.
Corey Grape General Manager – MIC/FCM
Corey has been interested in aviation from a very early age. A farm kid and the youngest of 5 he enlisted in the Air Force out of High School becoming a KC-135 Boom Operator instructor/evaluator with over 3000 flight hours. After 9 years with the Air Force, he moved back to the Midwest taking an operations position with Sun Country Airlines, and still serving as a member of the US Air Force Reserves. After a short stint with Sun Country he made the decision to take over the families manufacturing business which he ran from 2005-2015. In 2015 he then sold the growing business to a company from Vermont and worked for them to establish their market in the Midwestern states. Corey retired from the US Air Force in 2017 with 24 years of service. Always looking to get back into aviation as a career he was hired in October of 2018 as the Operations Manager at Thunderbirds Crystal location. He is a graduate of Embry-Riddle University with his Bachelor’s degree in Aviation Management. He is a pilot and aircraft owner.
“A job in aviation is not a job, but a special bond that we get to share with a very close knit community of friends. I love having this opportunity to assist our customers in this amazing world of aviation. I don’t go to work every day, but rather I get to go to the airport!”
Fred Nauer Chief Flight Instructor
Fred Nauer’s 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 currently has logged 7,000 hours in numerous aircraft. Over 5,000 as a flight instructor.
In May 2017, Fred completed training as a Cirrus Standardized Instructor Pilot (CSIP). He can train in all Perspective equipped Cirrus aircraft. He is now the Administrator of the newly formed Thunderbird Cirrus Training Center.
Paul Bloch Director of Maintenance
Paul’s interest in aviation started when he was 5 years old, on a school fieldtrip, when his teacher’s husband circled over the class and dipped the airplane wings. From that time on he constantly looked up to the sky and thought about how he could make flying part of his life. He began flying remote control airplanes and they got bigger and bigger until he moved up to experimental ultralights.
In 2000, while obtaining his private pilot’s license, Paul started working for Thunderbird Aviation as a Customer Service Representative and Line Service personnel. Shortly after that, Paul owned his first certified airplane and decided that it would be nice to get the certification for maintenance.
In 2008 Paul started school at MCTC, where he obtained an Associate’s degree in Airframe and an Associate’s degree in Powerplant. Upon graduation in 2010, he continued working at Thunderbird Aviation as an A and P Mechanic. In 2018 Paul was promoted to his current role at Thunderbird.
Paul’s other interests include: building experimental aircraft, building treehouses and other construction projects, gourmet cooking, playing classical violin, and biking with his two children.
Christopher M. Cape Chief Pilot – 135 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. In 2017, he refocused his duties in the 135 operations and is now Chief Pilot and 135 Operations. 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.