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Our Team

Seth Utz Owner Ascent Aviation Los Angeles

Seth Utz

President / Chief Pilot / Gold Seal CFII

Seth has been flying planes and helicopters as long as he can remember. At 15 years old he took his first flight in a Robinson R-22 and has been hooked ever since.  Seth has been training others for 5 years and has 5,000 hours of Dual instruction given and a 100% pass rate on all checkrides. His alumni and the pilots he has trained include pilots that are now flying for outfits such as: US AIR FORCE, US ARMY, Jetsuite X, Skywest, Spirit Airlines, Envoy Airlines, Delta, General Atomics, Ameriflight, UPS airlines and many more. 

Seth has built a network within the local aviation community and has become a trusted leader within the Van Nuys and SoCal aviation community and leads seminars monthly for the FAA. Seth is a very hands on owner, he is in 6-7 days a week unless he is on a mission at his part time gig with a military contractor where he pilots A-29 and T-34 Aircraft.You can trust that with Seth as chief pilot you will truly receive top level mentorship and a gold seal training experience. Seth has chosen to stay in the education sector of aviation and build the ultimate training experience for future pilots in and around SoCal and beyond.

As the Owner of Ascent Aviation Academy Van Nuys, I have always run the business with a very specific set of rules.

  1. Always take care of the customer and make sure they are receiving the best training experience possible.
  2. Provide REAL mentorship to not only the pilots that I train, but ALL students that walk through our doors. Our customers are our customers for life and we don’t just help them get a license we support them all the way until their end goal whether it be a private license and teaching them to safely navigate our region OR whether that means landing them an interview at their first Airline.
  3. Never take the customer on joy rides unless it’s asked for! every flight with every student should be performed with a specific goal in mind for the day so they get to their checkrides as soon as possible!
  4. Provide the Safest, most up to date, and affordable Fleet for all of our students.
  5. Build a community of pilots that support each other and truly understand what it means to be safe aviators.
Seth Utz President / Chief Pilot / Gold Seal CFII

Andy Sharma

CFO / CFI / ATP / Captain (JSX)

Andy has been instructing for 5 years in and around the SoCal area.  With over 2,000 Dual instruction hours he provides a very direct and modern approach to flight training. 

Andy has always gone above and beyond in making sure he produces safe and knowledgeable pilots. When he is not helping students at Ascent Aviation Academy with their training he is a Senior captain at Jetsuite X and fly’s the ERJ. 

Seth Lake



Seth is a retired AIR FORCE pilot and now works as an DPE  (Designated Pilot Examiner) and CFI. Having Seth on board at Ascent means no waiting months for a checkride.  He provides a relaxed checkride environment and has experience in many different sectors within aviation.


Checkrides are stressful, but I take a professional approach to each applicant and do my best to create a relaxed environment. I WANT you to succeed in your aviation pursuits, and nothing makes me happier to see the satisfaction on the face of a pilot after a successful checkride.  -Seth Lake (DPE)

Ascent Aviation Van Nuys Team

Dallas DuFrene


Dallas has been flying airplanes for several years in and around the Socal Area. His home airport has been KVNY from the start and he is very well versed with operations in this area as well. 

He has over a thousand hours in pipers and is a great addition to our team here at Ascent Aviation Academy.  Dallas is a favorite among the students here at Ascent too and has a lot to offer to students and our flight school alike. 

Dallas is a great example of what our flight school has to offer.  He is someone who started as a student pilot here at Ascent Aviation Academy and worked his way all the way up to the ranks of CFI. 

We are very glad to have him here with us and you can be assured he will provide a high level of professionalism and safety as your instructor.

Nathan Nix


Hailing out of Tennessee, Nathan is a CFII with over 1000 hours of flight time and is an expert in the IFR training arena. He has many hours in actual instrument conditions. Alot of instructors in the socal area only like to do simulated IFR which hinders your skills in the future, NOT this guy. Nathan is all about getting into the actual IFR environment and giving students a real world education. Nathan has a very precise style of teaching and is training you for a license from day one.

Sergio Lopez


Sergio was born in raised in the Eagle Rock area here in LA and has been with us for 3 years. He started as a student here at the age of 18 and worked his way up through our career path program. He is an extremely experienced pilot who not only passed ALL of his checkrides on the first try including the brutal CFI INITIAL as well as a 100% pass rate on all of his applicants since becoming an instructor. He is Bi-Lingual and fluent in Spanish as well as English. Sergio knows the Ascent operation in and out and is a huge asset to our team. He may be the youngest but in the cockpit he is a perfectionist and has taken many aspiring pilots to the finish line.

Connor Linn


Connor is a new addition to the Ascent Team. He was born in the U.S. Territory of Guam and decided to follow his dream of becoming a pilot in 2018.  He is committed to providing quality flight instruction for current and future aspiring pilots in the Los Angeles area. He is dedicated to his craft and is energetic about sharing his love of aviation.

Alan M. Bagamaspad


Alan is our Lead mechanic, he has been working on piston, turboprop, and Jet aircraft since the 70’s right here out of Van Nuys, California. He has earned many awards over the years and has an incredible reputation here at KVNY. You will be hard pressed to find anyone that is involved within the aviation community in Van Nuys that does not know who Alan is. We are only as good as our mechanic at the end of the day and we are very lucky to have him as our in house mechanic he continues to make sure we maintain our 100% Safety record.

Miguel Raymundo


Miguel is a mechanic who has been working on airplanes alongside our lead mechanic Alan for over 10 years. He is one of the best in his industry. He is full time and helps us keep our fleet top notch. He has a “Get it done right the first time” Attitude and plays a huge role in keeping our Airplanes Amongst the safest in the industry.

Let your dreams take a flight!

Choose Ascent Aviation Academy located at Van Nuys Airport in Los Angeles and let your dreams and passions take flight.  We can’t wait to hear from you and offer you the training you deserve.

Ascent Aviation Academy is a top-rated flight school in Van Nuys known for comprehensive training, licensing and discovery flights.  Located conveniently at Van Nuys Airport (VNY) we have world-renowned flight instructors, top of the line aircraft and different options for financing.

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