Archive for March, 2011

Sun ‘n Fun Storm Aftermath Photos

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

Severe weather ripped through Lakeland Florida Thursday, damaging or destroying at least 40 aircraft and many other tents, displays, and property. obtained these photos from eyewitness George Perks.

Sun ‘n Fun Air Show Hit By Tornado, Reports of “Roof Collapse” False

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

AVweb sent out an unconfirmed web alert earlier today that the Sun ‘n Fun Air Show had taken a direct hit from a tornado. According to the alert, the roof of a building on the Sun ‘n Fun campus  collapsed, trapping as many as 70 show participants.

However, an updated report on AVweb’s website now says that “everyone has been accounted for on-site, and there are no reports of serious injuries.” According to a report from Terri Smith, a Lakeland Florida Police Department employee, no buildings have collapsed. AVweb reports, however, that a tent may have collapsed in the storm, briefly trapping visitors inside.

We will post further information as it becomes available.


Helicopter Training – Robinson Helicopters Sees Market Improve

Thursday, March 31st, 2011
Robinson R44 Helicopter

Robinson Helicopters R44 “Raven”

“We’re ready to bounce back,” declared the CEO of Robinson Helicopters in the wake of news that the company is recovering from two years of financial difficulty that included multiple layoffs. Robinson Helicopters, based at Zamperini Field in Torrance, California, is reporting noticeable market improvement following a few years of dwindling sales. Robinson is known for making helicopters used for television news, police departments and rescue and surveillance operations.

Robinson is now reporting having several orders on hand and plans to expand its factory and recently unveiled a new five-seat helicopter. Kurt Robinson, the company’s CEO, said that Robinson literally hit a tailspin along with the rest of economy. Robinson is attracting attention with its new helicopter and hopes to use that attention to promote the company.

The helicopter, dubbed R66, is the most technologically advanced vehicle the company has had among its products. The copter is able to fly at higher altitude and carry more passengers and cargo than previous models. Matt Zuccaro, head of a trade group called the Helicopter Association International, sees it as an opportunity for the company to grow.

The recession forced Robinson to cut back orders and reduce its staff. The company turned out nearly 900 helicopters at its peak in 2008, but 2010 that number had dropped dramatically to 162. The company’s payroll plunged from approximately 1,400 in 2008 to current levels of less than 1,000. Sales for the company dropped to $75 million in 2010, from $100 million the previous year.

The news comes as California’s unemployment rate continues to linger around 12 percent. Robinson has expanded the factory where its current two and four seat models are produced located at the end of Torrance Municipal Airport. Currently the space made available for the new R66 remains empty. The company has completed about 24 of the new helicopters and has orders for an additional 106 of them.

One of the reasons for the company’s success throughout its history has been an ability to offer its products cheaper than most competitors. For instance, the new R66 is priced at $800,000 in comparison to a $1.4 million price tag from the company’s closest competitor.

Some of the copters manufactured by Robinson end up in use at helicopter training facilities in the area. Helicopter schools are always looking for high quality, up-to-date equipment to purchase at reasonable prices. This has made Robinson an appealing company to that market as well.

Kurt Robinson, the son of the founder of the company, sees the attention generated from the new helicopter as an opportunity for the company to continue to grow.

Click here to learn more about helicopter pilot training opportunities

Redstone College Takes Top Honors at Competition

Sunday, March 27th, 2011

Redstone College A&P Mechanic Training logoDenver-based Redstone College is celebrating a win in a recent aviation competition. Five students who made up Team Redstone came in first in their division and fifth overall in the recent Aviation Maintenance Technician Society’s Aviation Maintenance Skills Competition. The annual competition is held in Las Vegas. Twenty six teams were a part of the 4th annual aviation competition.

The team from Redstone College competed against 26 teams, including international and military groups. Six of the teams were from aviation maintenance schools. Several Redstone College staff were a part of Team Colorado which won the general aviation division for a third year in a row. Team Colorado placed sixth in the overall AMT competition.

Redstone’s campus president, Mike Couling, said he was “very proud” of the teams and how they represented the school in the competition. This is the first year Redstone College sent a student team to the three-day AMT aviation competition. Events included competency skills and troubleshooting efforts.

The AMT Society uses the annual event to bring together skilled aviation technicians from around the world to share knowledge and show their skills to others who are a part of the same field. The goal is to set new standards for quality in the industry and reward those who excel at specific aviation skills. Plaques were awarded to Team Colorado and Team Redstone during the awards ceremony after the competition concluded.

Redstone College was founded in 1965 in Broomfield, Colorado and has since become a vital part of the Denver education community. The school offers an extensive training program in several aviation-related fields, including many technical degree programs such as Advanced Electronics Technology, A&P (Airframe and Powerplant) and Wind Engery Technology.

The training programs at Redstone College are taught by instructors with experience in their fields. More than 15,000 students have graduated from Redstone College’s programs. Students at the school receive hands-on experience and training and are given the opportunity to network with others in the industry. In addition, the school has a career placement program designed to match the skills of graduates with careers in the aviation industry. The school also offers tuition-free retraining for their alumni.


Learn more about Redstone College Aviation Maintenance Programs

Flight Schools Under Attack in Santa Monica, California

Saturday, March 26th, 2011
learn to fly sign

Santa Monica Flight Schools Fight to Stay In Business

At least five flight schools in Santa Monica are under attack from members of Los Angeles City Council. A resolution was recently introduced that would allow lobbyists in Washington to press for legislation to close flight schools and alter flight plans. Complaints from residents about noise are being used in the effort by council members Janice Hahn and Bill Rosendahl.

While the council members seem to be targeting the flight schools in the Santa Monica area right now, it is believe the ultimate goal of the council members is to close the airport. The initial goal is to force the Federal Aviation Administration to force flight schools in certain areas to close or alter flight plans. Changes, if implemented, would not just affect California, but flight schools throughout the United States.

Officials in Santa Monica have said that closure of the airport used by flight schools there is a possibility. Those representing flight training and pilot training schools in Santa Monica contend that the LA City Council members have no first-hand knowledge of the aviation training industry and do not realize the impact of what they are doing.

The Santa Monica Municipal Airport has a long history in the area. The facility was built in the early 1920s and is one of the oldest still operating on the West Coast. Douglas Aircraft was once housed at the facility until a move to Long Beach. Flight and pilot schools in the area have helped many aspiring pilots receive the training necessary to attain their license to work as a commercial pilot or elsewhere in the aviation industry.

The airport in Santa Monica has become a popular location for use by private jet owners due to its proximity to Malibu and Beverly Hills. Approximately 105,000 planes depart from the airport each year, which is about 285 flights per day. Rosendahl asserts that the airport poses threats to the residents in the area. Rosendahl is among those pushing for a change in flight paths of planes originating from the airport.

Currently departing aircraft fly over the Venice neighborhood of Los Angeles. There is a potential for crossing paths with flights heading out of Los Angeles International Airport. Rosendahl is suggesting that aircraft make a 40-degree turn to the north after taking off from the airport.

This change in flight direction would put aircraft directly over some residential neighborhoods in Santa Monica. Stuart Cook, who owns an aviation school in Santa Monica, believes that the residents in the Los Angeles neighborhoods the LA city council members are allegedly trying to protect knew about the airport prior to moving in.

In January of 2009, two people were killed when an aerobatic plane crashed at the airport’s west end. In August of 2009, a pilot trying to crash land a single-engine plane died at the airport. In 2010, a commercial pilot crashed shortly after takeoff.

Those representing flight schools in the area counter charges that flight school students engage in dangerous maneuvers, pointing out that fatalities involved mostly experienced pilots. The airport currently has an agreement with the city to remain in operation until 2014. It remains to be seen what the future of the airport will be after that time.


Click here to get more info about flight schools in California

AIM Opens New Aircraft Mechanic School In Oakland, CA

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011
Aviation Mechanic Schools in Oakland, CA

New AIM campus is now training students in California's Bay Area

The Aviation Institute of Maintenance (AIM) family of aviation schools announced the opening of its newest location in Oakland, California on March 23, 2011.

According to a company press release, with the unemployment rate at levels not seen in a long time, retooling and retraining for a new career as an aircraft mechanic is exactly what many unemployed individuals may need.  The pool of qualified aviation mechanics and service technicians is decreasing at an alarming rate.  “Most job openings for aircraft mechanics through the year 2016 will stem from the need to replace the many mechanics expected to retire over the next decade.” as stated by the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.

On February 24th, AIM, Oakland campus received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to teach the Airframe and Powerplant classes which prepare students to earn their FAA Mechanic’s Certificate.

“We are really excited to get started with our training program, continuing the excellent tradition established by AIM,” states Executive Director, Josh Smith, “and becoming a part of the Bay Area’s aviation maintenance training community.  The inaugural class began in March 2011.

For more information about this program and the opportunity to earn a tuition-free education, please contact AIM at 866-859-6378. The Oakland campus is located at 9636 Earhart Road, near the Oakland International Airport.

About Aviation Institute of Maintenance

AIM –Oakland campus is part of the nation’s largest family of aviation maintenance schools, with headquarters in Virginia Beach, Virginia.  Through AIM’s Aviation Maintenance Technician program, students prepare for a high-flying career in aviation maintenance.  Students learn the skills necessary to become successful in one of the world’s fastest growing industries, aviation maintenance.  AIM graduates are there to meet the increasing global demands of commercial, cargo, corporate and private aviation employers.  AIM’s other campuses are located in Atlanta; Chesapeake, Virginia; Dallas; Houston; Indianapolis; Kansas City, Missouri; Manassas, Virginia; Orlando and Philadelphia. Learn more at

Please click here to get more information on AIM’s programs.

Utah Helicopter School Hosts “Learn To Fly” Open House

Friday, March 18th, 2011
Whirlybird Helicopters training photo

Utah Helicopter Pilots - Whirlybird Helicopters announces Open House

Whirlybird Helicopters announced it will host an open house at both of its Wasatch Front locations in Ogden and Spanish Fork on March 26 & 27, 2011. The event will be targeted at people who want to learn to fly helicopters, either for personal use or as a career. According to the Whirlybird Helicopter website, the school offers step-by-step teaching to train students quickly and efficiently, and enables students to graduate as a fully-trained pilots much earlier than from other helicopter flight schools. In addition to flight training, Whirlybird also rents helicopters to qualified pilots. Career-oriented students can train for jobs including flight instructor, fire fighting, emergency medical services, power line patrol, fishing, logging, and law enforcement, to name a few from Whirlybird’s website.

For more information about Whirlybird Helicopter’s open house, please contact the school at…

Spanish Fork, Utah
Hanger 75
350 West 2050 North
Spanish Fork, Utah 84660

Ogden, Utah
4235 Airport Road
Ogden, Utah 84405

Click here to get detailed information on Whirlybird Helicopter’s flight training programs

K-State’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Enrollments Up 200%

Monday, March 14th, 2011
Kansas State University UAS

Demand for K-State's UAS program has more than doubled

Students at Kansas State University Salina believe unmanned aircraft systems are indeed the future of aviation. The program, Introduction to Unmanned Aircraft Systems, has seen enrollments increase by 200%, from 7 to 22 students. Kurt Barnhart, head of the university’s aviation department is very pleased to see this level of interest. He states the work involved in getting the program off the ground has been rewarded with the huge increase in enrollment numbers.

Students’ reasons for enrollment in the program are varied. Professional pilot majors make up the majority of enrollments while some are majoring in aviation maintenance. However, there are some who are solely focusing on UAS. There are those who want to take their remote control flying hobbies into a career. There are those who are military bound yet appreciate the opportunity to fly without the fear of getting shot down. Engineers will get the rare opportunity to build and fly the same aircraft.

K-State’s Salina campus is near Smoky Hills Weapon Range. The UAS program has been given access to the restricted air space at the weapon range. The range allows students to operate unmanned systems operating software explains Eric Shappee, associate professor of UAS. The students also get to learn mission planning first hand. Shappee is confident this exposure will give his students an edge when seeking employment.

The program’s director, Josh Brungardt, feels very fortunate that K-State Salina is one of the only universities to be able to offer such experience due to the campus’ proximity to Smoky Hills.

UAS is currently a certificate program at K-State Salina.

The UAS program office at K-State Salina also serves another function as it houses the Unmanned Aerial Systems Technology Evaluation Center. The center will evaluate UAS platforms and technology to determine how suitable they are during disaster response situations. The center will also train those who operate and maintain UAS. The UAS office also houses a full surface mount technology lab. The lab’s focus is on unmanned vehicle avionics and payload miniaturization.

K-State’s Applied Aviation Research Center operates the UAS program office. The center’s mission is to advance aerospace technology in propulsion, airframe, avionics and aviation training. The office also assists military organizations and the private sector in their focus on the nation’s airspace utilizing unmanned flights. Another function of the UAS program office is to train pilots and operators of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

As a pioneer in the unmanned aircraft systems field, K-State also instituted the criteria for UAS flight operations which includes the functions at the Smoky Hill Weapons Range. K-State will eventually also begin fight operations at the Herington UAS flight facility in Kansas. Both military and civilian organizations are able to test and fly at the facilities.

Click here to learn more about K-Sate’s UAS Programs

FAA Surprises Pilots With New Test Questions: Will You Pass?

Sunday, March 13th, 2011

Airmen beware - The FAA has made several unannounced changes to three different airman knowledge tests

The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association has learned that the Federal Aviation Administration has made unannounced changes to questions in various question banks. The drastic changes have been confirmed in three airman knowledge tests so far. The result has been an increase in failure rates.

As a result of these significant changes in advanced knowledge tests, AOPA is urging certified and student pilots and their instructors to prepare for additional tests outside of their typical practice tests and adjust flight training methods accordingly.

Another obstacle student pilots and instructors face is the lack of a detailed study guide available from the FAA to prepare students for the new test questions. This makes it difficult to know where to focus flight training. Previously, practice exams were a very reliable indicator of what was on the actual knowledge tests. However, this is no longer the case.

In a March 3 letter to the FAA, the National Association of Flight Instructors and AOPA said they have no problem with the changes, but want the changes to be coordinated with the practice exams to provide better flight training to prepare applicants. The letter goes on to say that the unannounced changes and increase failure rate fail to accomplish much for those learning to fly and build a career.

Instead, the result is more expense for students who fail the exam and must take it again. This means a fee of $140 to $150 to retake the exam. There is additional travel expense and lost time for the students, as well as increased frustration with the process. The letter requests information about what areas students should focus on while preparing for the exam.

Flight schools and universities offering flight training programs have reported a marked increase in failures since the changes took place. For example, more than half of the student pilots taking the Fundamentals of Instruction knowledge test have failed. The other exams affected are the Flight Engineer and Airline Transport Pilot knowledge tests.

AOPA and NAFI will continue to request coordination efforts with the the FAA to better prepare students for the knowledge tests affected. The letter requests time to implement changes in training and test preparation to curb the failure rate. AOPA asserts that the goal of aviation programs is to produce well trained students, but feels the end result could be more students choosing not to learn to fly or pursue aviation careers.


May 21st is International Learn to Fly Day at JA AIr Center

Saturday, March 12th, 2011

International Learn to Fly Day at JA AIr Center at the Aurora Airport in Illinois

Our Airport Open House is going to be on Saturday, May 21st at JA Air Center at the Aurora Municipal Airport in Sugar Grove, IL.  Address is 43W700 US Hwy 30, Sugar Grove, IL. Our phone number is 630.584.3200 and our email is We’re located right off of I-88.

The event will be from 9am – 5pm.  We’ll have airplane rides, food, corporate and new Cessna aircraft displays, facility tours, and giveaways throughout the event. We’ll also have a few informative events throughout the day on Learning to Fly so people can gather more information on what it takes to become a pilot.

For more information, please contact JA Air Center at 630.584.3200 or email

Click here to get detailed information about flight training at JA Air Center

Visit the JA Air Center website