Steve Graham

Chief Instructor, CFI, CFI-I, ATP

Steve is the founder and CEO of SunState Aviation. He provided accelerated flight training as an independent flight instructor for many years and served as the Chief Flight Instructor for a very large flight school prior to opening SunState Aviation in 2002. Steve hails from Cullman, Alabama.

Isaiah Maldonado

Director of Student Affairs,

A native to Florida, Isaiah received his Associates in Physics from Valencia College & Bachelors in Interdisciplinary Studies from Liberty University, where his concentrations were Aviation & Computational Sciences. Before going into aviation, Isaiah was a middle school & high school math teacher. At SunState, he is always happy to serve not only with flight instruction, but also with guiding students throughout the flight training process. Apart from aviation, Isaiah is a car/motorcycle enthusiast & loves astronomy.

Sean-Michael Kemp

Director of Flight Training,
CFI, CFI-I, MEI, ATP, Gold Seal Instructor, Check Instructor,
FAAST Team Lead Representative,
Currently a JetBlue Pilot
Spoons Card Game Runner-Up

A native to Florida, Sean received his Bachelors in Logistics Management at the Florida Institute of Technology. He currently does progress checks at SunState when he is not flying with SkyWest Airlines. Sean is also a former elementary school teacher and currently helps out as a soccer referee in youth, high school, college, & professional games. 

Jay Irvine

Check Instructor,
FAAST Team Representative,
Currently a United Pilot

Jay hails from Nova Scotia, Canada! After receiving his Bachelor of Science degree, he moved to the US in 1998 to start a career in aviation. He attended a flight school in Florida where he received his Private, Instrument, Commercial and CFI ratings before being hired to instruct there. Jay instructed for 2 years before moving onto the regional airlines in 2001. In 2006, he moved to Dubai to work for Emirates Airline, where he flew the A330, A340 and A380 during his 10 years overseas, eventually leaving as an A380 Captain, Instructor and Check Airman. Since 2016, Jay has been back stateside working for United Airlines, where he’s flown the B737, B757, B767 and currently flies the B777.

Sara Landrum

Check Instructor,
2021 AOPA Distinguished Flight Instructor
Spoons Card Game World Champion

Sara grew up in Virginia where she also earned her Bachelor’s in Education from Liberty University. Afterwards, she spent a few years in Education, but she soon began flying after work in order to pursue her dream of becoming a pilot. Eventually, she moved to Florida to continue working on her flight ratings. Sara is excited to be a part of SunState Aviation & looks forward to training her students.

Cesar Achurra


Born in New York City, Cesar moved to Panama at the age of 2, where he completed high school & his culinary arts degree. After that, Cesar decided that aviation was the field that he wanted to be in, so he moved back to the US to do so. Once he obtained the necessary licenses, he decided to become a CFI. Being a CFI has brought him a lot of satisfaction as he sees his students grow and he plans to continue to help his students reach their dream of flying an airplane. Cesar eventually wants to be able to apply to an airline or cargo company to further his aviation dream. In his free time, Cesar likes to draw, read & write novels, cook and travel.

Orlando Rivera

Orlando rivera

Connect 4 World Champion

A former Valet Supervisor, Orlando was Born and raised here in Orlando, FL where his passion for aviation started at a young age. Right After graduating from High School, Orlando went on to receive his flight training in Sanford, FL. His dream is to share the passion of flight with as many people as possible, and being a flight instructor is the best way he knew how. His dream is to also be a motivational speaker. His interests are in Gaming, Fitness, and still plays pickup basketball regularly. He is very excited to train the future of aviators here at Sunstate.


Garrett Paladino


Garrett went to school at UCF and completed his flight training in South Florida. Throughout his training, he has had the opportunity to gain experience in several different Cessna and Piper aircraft.  Garrett is also a US Army Veteran and is excited to help you achieve your aviation goals!


Brooke Eason


Originally from Tennessee, Brooke attended Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) and graduated in May of 2021 with a bachelors in Aerospace-Professional Pilot. She received all of her certificates and ratings from MTSU, as well. When she is not flying, Brooke enjoys spending time with her fiancé, Sam, and her cat Piper. Brooke looks forward to training with you at Sunstate Aviation.


Ryan Pattison


Ryan holds a degree in Aeronautical Science & Air Traffic Management. Throughout his training, he has gained invaluable experience in varying aircraft like: Cessnas, BeechCrafts, Pipers & Diamonds. When Ryan is not flying, he enjoys outdoor activities & playing video games. He is excited to be a part of the SunState Team & always looks forward to training students.

Zach Pic

Zachary Hawkins


Zach grew up in Atlanta in an aviation community, full of airline employees, including his dad (a Delta mechanic) who passed down his passion of flight. He attended the University of Georgia, where Zach received a B.S. in International Affairs and Finance. Following college, he worked as an Operations Manager for Delta Air Lines at the busiest airport in the world (ATL). It was here that he realized that flying airplanes was his true calling in life. Zach’s life-long goal is to become a Delta pilot. In his spare time, Zach loves cooking for his wife, traveling the world, and taking care of his two cats.

 What is a Gold Seal Flight Instructor?

The FAA issues the coveted Gold Seal Flight Instructor certificate only to those instructors who give a lot of flight instruction and whose students have an 80% success rate of passing their checkride on their first attempt! This means you can have a high degree of confidence that the training you are paying for is up to date, accurate, and efficient. Inefficient training is expensive, and having to retake a flight test can cost hundreds of dollars more. At SunState Aviation, you can expect to be given top quality flight training and to pass your check-ride on the first attempt. A Gold Seal CFI certificate is the seal of approval the FAA gives to exceptional instructors.

 What is an AOPA Distinguished Flight Instructor?

The survey encourages anyone who has taken flight training in the past 12 months to candidly share their training experiences. Survey participants included pilots of all experience levels, from new students to those earning advanced ratings or taking a flight review. 

The overall performance of the survey respondents’ flight training providers is measured through their responses and also highlights areas where they are successful and where they have opportunities to improve.