The thrill of explaining what makes an airplane fly, what the flight controls do, and going over a thorough preflight while your new student eagerly awaits their chance behind the controls is an honor. That excitement you feel from that forty-forth touchdown, when your student actually pulled the airplane into the proper flare with the nose aligned with the centerline, is hard to explain. The ecstatic energy you feel when your student, after his first solo, shuts down the airplane, opens the door, has a huge smile on his red face, and says, “That was awesome!” These are just the beginning of the fulfillment that comes with being a flight instructor.
Airline, corporate, and military pilots were all taught by someone. That someone that changed their lives forever was a flight instructor. The FAA knows the importance of a flight instructor. A person who wants to become a flight instructor has to pass two written exams and many go directly to the Flight Standards District Office for the practical checkride. These examiners at the FSDO aren’t playing around either. They expect the examinee to be a meteorologist, mechanic, physicist, psychologist, and teaching professional.
Left to right: Greenville-based instructor William Bowen, Spartanburg-based instructor Adam Lockamy, Director of Operations Michele Rash, Chief Flight Instructor Cyndy Hollman, and Shane Martin, operations and future CFI
As more people realize the importance of quality flight instruction, there is a growing demand for professional flight instructors. In the past some people may have thought, “I’m just a flight instructor.” But now really good flight instructors are sought out and paid top dollar for their contribution to aviation.
Times are tough in the aviation sector. The proverbial road to success has become a little narrower as companies transform, trim their fat and consolidate their way to what we all hope is a brighter future. One way we at US Aviation hope to continue to grow is through diversification.
Six years ago we existed as only a flight training academy and small maintenance facility serving the north Texas region. In 2007 we received our first International students. These students knew other students who knew others and so on. Within six months we were in the throes of what is now called the “Indian Boom” with more than 60 students from south Asia working toward their commercial certificates. As with any boom this was short-lived as their home pilot labor markets started to saturate and the student levels dropped down to more sustainable levels. We were worried about the future and did not know if we could continue to grow, but we knew we had made contact with a growing list of industry partners around the world, many of which were former students. We reached out and found that with the right combination of incentive, proven success, and competitive rates students from all over the world were interested in training at US Aviation Academy. On a long wall in the central corridor of the Academy now hangs a map of the world pinned with the home locations of our pilot graduates, more than 35 countries so far. Some of these countries send us government or airline contract students, but our most successful marketing tool continues to be word of mouth. As with any business, when you put out a good product people recognize that and it enables you to grow even in difficult times.