As owner of Tactical Flying , Nick Minx manages day-to-day operations while playing an active role in training and development. A sworn officer for over 17 years with San Diego Police Department, Nick was assigned to SDPD’s Air Support Unit as a Tactical Flight Officer (TFO) in 2012, and has since become certified as a Helicopter Pilot. He has over 3,000 combined hours working both seats in an aircraft, and continues to hone his skills as a tactical operator and a cooperative member of an aircrew.
Phil Cady is the primary Tactics Instructor for Tactical Flying, and a 28-year veteran with San Diego Police Department. Following a successful career as a patrol officer, Phil transitioned to SDPD’s Air Support Unit in 1999, and retired 20 years later as a Helicopter Pilot and Lead Tactical Flight Officer Trainer. During that time, Phil clocked over 10,000 hours as an aircrew member, with over half that time spent as Pilot in Command. He is a dually-rated commercial pilot (fixed-wing and helicopter), a helicopter Certified Flight Instructor, and an instrument-rated pilot for fixed-wing flight.
UAS Tactical Instructor
Derek Ralph is the primary UAS Tactics Instructor, a 14-year veteran of the San Diego Sheriff’s Department, and 10-year US Army National Guard Infantry Combat Veteran. Some of Derek’s prior assignments have been Detentions, Patrol, Training Officer, Community Oriented Policing, Emergency Planning Detail, and SWAT. During Derek’s time on the SWAT team, Derek evaluated and purchased his Departments first sUAS systems for use in Search and Rescue and SWAT operations
Ryan Welch has been a San Diego Police Officer for 16 years and a senior Tactical Flight Officer in the SDPD Air Support Unit for over 8 years. He has amassed over 4,000 hours of flight time and specializes in airborne thermal imaging. As a Tactics Instructor for Tactical Flying, he is a subject matter expert on thermography and airborne law enforcement tactics and provides expert witness testimony services.
Matthew Zdunich is a 20-year veteran of the San Diego Police Department and currently assigned to the Air Support Unit. He was selected as a TFO in 2011 and became a Unit pilot in 2015. With over 2,500 hours in each seat (pilot and TFO), he has over 5,000 flight hours in the police helicopter. He earned his flight instructor rating (CFI) in 2019 and is now an Instructor Pilot and TFO trainer.
Christian Smith has been a San Jose Police Officer for over 20 years and a Tactical Flight Officer in the SJPD Air Support Unit for over 4 years. Christian has worked many different assignments during his career, including street patrol, the SJPD METRO Unit and the SJPD MERGE Unit. Additionally, Christian has provided ongoing training for patrol and special operations Officers on a number of topics including perimeter and containment tactics, surveillance tactics, high risk vehicle stops, vehicle pursuit management, firearms training and active shooter protocol.
Kris Kubasta has been a San Jose Police Officer for 17 years and assigned to the SJPD Air Support Unit as a pilot and Tactical Flight Officer for 13 years. He has amassed over 4,000 hours of flight time in both Fixed Wing and Rotorcraft. Currently Kris is the lead trainer for the SJPD Tactical Flight Officer’s and Pilots after their selection to the Air Support Unit.
Nick Byrd has been a police officer in San Jose, CA, for over 20-years. Nick is currently assigned to the Air-Support Unit as a commercial pilot/tactical flight officer for both fixed-wing and rotor. He has extensive experience in instructing and developing training for a variety of tactics along with currently being the department’s use of force expert.
Kevin Means was a helicopter crewman in the U.S. Navy and has been a San Diego police officer since 1982. He has worked as a patrol officer, an undercover narcotics detective and gang detective. Kevin has been assigned to the Air Support Unit as a pilot and tactical flight officer for more than 20 years and has acquired nearly 12,000 hours of flight time, including 1,100 hours of night vision goggle pilot-in-command time. He was the unit’s helicopter training officer and NVG check-airman, and is a FAA certified flight instructor in airplanes and helicopters with a night vision goggle instructor endorsement.