How the CEO of American Flyers is Changing Flight Training

 

By Andrew Henley, Vice President

Since 1911, March 8th has been marked as a day to recognize women in aviation. Although it’s only October, I felt it was exceptionally important to dedicate this issue of the Pilot’s Digest to the women who have dedicated their lives to the aviation community.

Women have made an enormous impact in the aviation industry starting with Harriett Quimby. In 1911, she became the first woman to earn her pilot’s license. Quimby paved the way for women aviators and since then, we have seen women become airline pilots, mechanics, astronauts and CEO’s.

One successful female CEO in aviation is our very own Jill Cole. Jill began working for American Flyers over 30 years ago and is a visionary, building on the success of a company that has been around since 1939. In a male-dominated industry, Jill stands above the rest with her strength, courage and integrity. But for Jill, it’s not just about continuing the legacy of a flight school that has been around for over 80 years; it’s about maintaining a high standard in the aviation community. Under Jill’s guidance, American Flyers has continued to produce the world’s best pilots.Whether they are private pilots adding an instrument rating or aspiring airline pilots, they are trained to be professional aviators. If you ask Jill, ‘this is not our job, it’s our duty’.

That says a lot about a leader in today’s aviation world. It’s a lot easier to make a profit than in years past and with the current pilot shortage, it makes sense. Airlines are frantic for pilots, so much so that they have increased pilot compensation and are even sponsoring pilot training. This airline shortage has also increased the interest in general aviation. More and more people are coming in and inquiring about what it takes to become a pilot. That’s wonderful for the industry and an incredible opportunity for American Flyers. We intend to take advantage of that opportunity by ensuring that the next generation of pilots is better than the last.

Due to the current pilot shortage, today’s flight training industry is completely different than ever before. As one employee put it, ‘if we’re not careful, we will have babies teaching babies.” More and more flight instructors are moving on to the airlines as soon as they meet ATP requirements. In prior years instructors would accrue 3,000-4,000 hours before moving on.

In an effort to ensure we maintain our high level of education, Jill has challenged our internal National Safety Board to revamp our instructor development. This allows newer instructors to be able to teach at the same high standards as a more experienced instructor. This dedication to continued education ensures that we are able to provide our students with the same quality of education we have been known for over 80 years.

We have also renewed our relationship with Frasca International Simulation, the Nation’s premier simulator manufacturer. In the past three years we have purchased 15 state of the art simulators. We have also purchased over 20 new aircraft, ensuring both the quality of our education and safety are the forefront of what we do.

In the ten years I have spent working alongside Jill, I have seen her work tirelessly to ensure our employees understand the core values and beliefs that make American Flyers who we are. We believe in strategic growth and taking care of one student at a time. We also believe that we employee the best flight instructors, the best mechanics, the best dispatchers, the best managers and the best employees. We also have something else that sets us apart: a great leader that cares more about American Flyers than herself. It’s also worth noting, under Jill’s tenure as CEO, we have hired more female employees, specifically instructors, than ever before! Under Jill’s leadership, I am quite certain that American Flyers will be providing the world’s best flight instruction for another 80 years.