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Doc Elliott


Doc Elliott, A Cornerstone of American Flyers

Doc Elliott, A Cornerstone of American Flyers

By the American Flyers Family

In the fall of 1969, American Flyers was forever changed for the better, for it was on this day that Harlan “Doc” Elliott joined our team. Since what may feel like the dawn of American Flyers’ time, Doc has been as much a part of American Flyers as the Cessna 172 and the 6 Ts. A veteran of the 173rd Airborne Division, Doc started as an instructor at Midway Airport and has held about every position available. He has shaped our school in more ways than we can remember. You will not find a better IFR or multi-engine instructor anywhere in the world, nor a more dedicated individual and friend.

Doc has lent his expertise not only as a CFI, but as a local and national chief pilot for our 141 accreditation. Being the direct liaison to the local and national FAA office was an added responsibility while he continued his mentorship to our students and leadership of our staff. It is uncommon to find someone with such an expert-level understanding of the regulations, who can still think with such clarity and common sense about student need; Doc does both succinctly.

Doc Elliott has grown several schools, serving as a manager for every location American Flyers has managed. Overseeing scheduling, student program management, maintenance, recruiting and training of both students and staff, Doc could do it all.

“He never, never says no to a challenge, and with a smile everything is possible.”

In the early 1980s, Doc managed the airline career program, originally housed in an old military base in Ardmore, Oklahoma. Purportedly, Doc was known for riding his motorcycle through the dorm hallways to wake up students who had slept in for their lessons!

The vastness of his knowledge, with the simplicity of its presentation, could not be more evident than in the American Flyers training manuals, as they were originally – and are still – written by none other than Doc Elliott. When the world of aviation training devices was changing and computer-based simulation was dawning, it was Doc who designed and built the simulators that would become such a backbone of our training courses. Even today, the bulk of the simulator fleet has been engineered and is still maintained by Doc Elliott.

Doc has been a constant on our National Safety Board, fervently reviewing policies, regulations, CFI practices and statistics so he can recommend ongoing improvements to our curricula, ensuring that American Flyers students receive the best education in the industry.

Doc has knowledge, drive, motivation, flying skills to spare, coaching qualities, tech savvy, and more CFI know-how than anyone can boast in a lifetime of aviation teaching, but it’s the heart that Doc Elliott brings to the American Flyers table that has made him an invaluable resource, a sought-after counselor, and a true cornerstone of excellence and greatness. Quite simply, we would not be American Flyers without him.

Distilling the essence of Doc Elliott into a few sentences is of course, an impossible task however here is what almost a half a century of working with Doc is like:

  • “He is a pure teacher. He can take the most complex subject material and help one understand it without much trouble and having fun at the same time. He understands how to help young pilots become old pilots.” – Clark McCormack
  • ”Doc cares about what we do and has a passion for doing it the right way. For that reason and many others I highly respect Doc and am proud to call him my friend.” – Mike Bliss
  • ”One of the greatest things about Doc is, no matter the conversation, he ends every single phone call with, ‘Is there anything I can do for you, and he means it’”. – Andrew Henley
  • ”Doc Elliott is a humble, principled and dedicated man, I’m glad to call a hero and a friend.” – Kat Batista


For 48 years, he has made our company-family entertaining, educational and down-right fun. He has made us who we are today. Doc’s contributions to American Flyers are immeasurable. It would actually be easier to run our schools without airplanes, than it would be to run them without the sage wisdom and experience, the guiding voice, and the ever full heart of Harlan “Doc” Elliott.

Thank you, Doc, for your exemplary lifetime of service to our proud company!