Andrew Allison spent his early years watching airplanes come and go at the Atlanta airport. At age 7 his family moved out to the country, but still under the flight path for Hartsfield. The simple farm life left time for a boy to dream about technology and watch jets fly over his head. In the mid 1980’s he started at Auburn University as a Professional Flight major. Somewhere along the line he switched into Aviation Management and graduated, but did not finish his Private pilot certificate.
The love of flying stayed with Andrew over the years and when he found the right piece of property out in the country he bought it. Then he bought the house across from it. Then he bought a Piper Aztec and a Pelican (experimental, single-engine, two-seater). Then he bought a pre-owned control tower (and hauled it back on a big truck). Then he bought a pre-owned rotating beacon and tower. Finally he bought a set of pre-owned lights. Andrew is now set to have the best decked out grass strip in the Southeast.
There was only one more thing he needed to do: get a certificate to fly his airplanes. Although he’d gone to three flight schools, he had not completed the training requirements to take the check ride. He’d only accumulated over 100 hours and a bunch of bad experiences. His professional pilot friends told him to come to American Flyers if he wanted accelerated training and a syllabus. When school director, Clint White, told him he’d be done in two to three weeks, Andrew was unbelieving. When he was done in two to three weeks, he was astonished and very glad he came. “Don’t let feeling overwhelmed defeat your goal,” said Andrew. “No matter what obstacles come before you, don’t let it stand in the way of your dream.”
Andrew wants to compliment Clint, Shane and Melissa for the awesome job they did and all the encouragement they offered. “They kept me engaged. They weren’t pushy, but they didn’t let me get sidetracked. Shane went above and beyond what any instructor would be expected to do. On the day of my check ride, I left the lights on in my truck. He stayed with me until we got it going again. And that was after he bought me lunch!”
Air Force Officer Troy Gryga earned his Private Pilot certificate on a recent Friday afternoon and by following Monday morning he was reporting to Randolph Air Force Base for Navigator training. The aircraft he is training in is the T-43, a modified B-737.
Troy has been in the military for 6 years and plans on remaining with them indefinitely. He loves the work and the camaraderie he enjoys with his fellow servicemen. His face is alive with enthusiasm and confidence when he talks about the Air Force and one is left with no doubt to the success of his future.
When he was 14 years old, Troy had the opportunity to take a Young Eagles flight in a Van’s RV-6 experimental aircraft. He was hooked for life! Troy earned a degree in aviation from SIU and he sells jet engines when he’s not in active duty. He and his father are building an RV-6A, a two-seat, single-engine, tricycle gear aircraft. They figure it will take 2 years to build and they’re both looking forward to the day they can soar the sky together.
This is a story to inspire individuals to get their pilot’s certificate; and possibly their own airplane. My name is Steve Okros and this is my story regarding achieving my pilot’s certificate, instrument rating and owning an airplane with the help of American Flyers.
I took my first lesson on February 9th, 2006. With a wonderful 3 days of ground school and 17 days of flight time I received my certificate on March 16th. This story is not to impress anyone with my ability, but to impress that anyone can do this. Next, I pursued my instrument rating, which I received on June 8th, 2006. I placed an order for a brand new Columbia 400 twin turbo charged single engine piston aircraft. I took delivery of the airplane in July of 2006 and received factory training in Bend,Oregon. I flew my plane back to New Jersey later that month.
In the beginning of 2007, I decided to take in 2 partners on the airplane. This is a great way to own one of the best airplanes on the market at reasonable cost.
Recently, I flew the plane for the first time from New Jersey to Florida and had an awesome trip. I hope this story inspires anybody with dreams of flying to pursue their dreams. If anybody would like more information on any of this story, feel free to call me at (732) 673-0700.
Thanks to Lucas with American Flyers of Morristown New Jersey. He referred me to a great partner for my airplane by the name of Dave Sievers, who also completed his private pilot and instrument rating training at American Flyers.
When Ron Cavanaugh was a little boy he lived a half mile from a private airport. He’d go over there to help out just so he could be around the airplanes. “When I grow up,” he told himself, “I’m going to be a pilot.”
Once grown, though, Ron followed another calling, that of educator. He served as the Vice President for Undergraduate Studies at Syracuse University until he stepped down recently to return to the classroom. While he never forgot his dream to fly, it always seemed to find its way down the list of life’s priorities until 2006, when Ron’s daughter and son-in-law gave him an IntroFlight as a gift. The dream was reignited and he earned his Private Pilot certificate.
A grandfather four times over, Ron has just earned his Instrument Rating because he wants to be a safer pilot as he flies those beautiful kids around. He has an eager passenger in his wife, Judy, who loves going places with him.
Ron discovered a bonus to being a pilot. “I’ve met a lot of nice people associated with aviation. I enjoy talking aviation and weather with other pilots. They are delightful,” he says. “Meeting these concerned and caring people makes me feel very positive!”
When you ask a pilot why he wanted to learn to fly, most respond with, “Oh, I’ve wanted to fly since I was a little kid.” If you dig a little deeper, you might find out what happened to the kid to make him want to fly. In Bill Knuepfer’s case, he used to build model airplanes with his grandfather, who’d been a Private pilot and airplane owner until losing his medical. After that Grandpa enthusiastically built models and inspired a love of flying in his grandson.
Bill has recently achieved his first solo and intends to earn his Private pilot certificate prior to summer’s end. Come September he will depart to Purdue University to begin his training toward a Professional Flight Technology degree keeping his eyes focused down the road to his dream job of becoming a corporate pilot. Another thing he wants to do once he’s a certified pilot is take his mom and grandmother up for an evening tour of the Chicago shoreline. Bill’s friends are adding their names to the list for a flight as well!
Until recently Adeel Siddiqui had a job as an aircraft dispatcher for Ryan International Airlines. Now he has new position as an administrative intern at American Flyers in Santa Monica. “I was very happy at my old job, but this was a once in a lifetime opportunity I couldn’t pass by,” he said of the internship.
Adeel was working on his Private Pilot training at the West Chicago American Flyers location, when he sat with school director, Tim Genc, to talk about funding options for his Career training. What fit his needs best was the administrative internship, which provides a working experience, as well as an education. Within a month he was accepted for the internship, passed his Private Pilot check ride in West Chicago and was on his way to Santa Monica. His wife, Rabiah, will be relocating to their new home soon.
During the one year administrative internship Adeel will earn his Instrument rating and Commercial Pilot certificate. When the year is done, he’ll attend the 30-day CFI Academy and hopes to be hired as a flight instructor. Ultimately, Adeel wants to work in cargo or corporate aviation, but right now he just wants to enjoy flying.
Cody Farmer got his Private pilot certificate about two weeks ago. His interest in flying began last year, sparked by two of his partners who fly. He started training locally in Tennessee, but decided that he wanted more ground instruction for the written exam than he was getting. His buddy told him about American Flyers and after talking to a couple of managers he came to Atlanta. After completing his weekend ground school, he realized that he wanted to return to American Flyers to finish his Private, so a month later he came back. “I think the world of Clint,” he said of school director and chief flight instructor, Clint White. He added, “The training in such a densely trafficked airport was invaluable. They took time to work you into it.””
He’s already taken advantage of his new certificate to fly by taking a couple of flights in the Smokey Mountains since returning to his home in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. He took his wife, Donna, into a very beautiful valley leading from north Tennessee into south Virginia. Cody plans to make his first destination flight to Crystal River, Florida for a diving trip.
Ashleigh Fenn discovered her passion for flying by accident. She had gone to Australia to visit her brother with the intent of staying there for 10 months, but realized after 3 weeks that it wasn’t the right time for her to be there. Instead she decided to stay at her family’s condo in Palm Beach for the winter. Her dad, a GA pilot and aviation attorney, suggested she take some flying lessons while she was there.
She earned her Private and says that the training became almost addictive. She got her Instrument rating, Multi Engine Private, Commercial, and now her CFI’s. She’s planning on becoming an Airline Pilot after she gains some experience instructing. Her older brother James, who’d begun his flying before Ashleigh, came to American Flyers to work on his Private and ended up asking her for help!
Ashleigh’s dad owns a C-340 and one of the best things to come out of this experience is the bonding with her father. Dad loves to fly with his little girl!
After recently passing his private pilot check ride, Bob Palcher, 48, is already making plans. He is currently preparing for instrument ground school, and is hoping to sign up for the instrument flight course soon. Bob appreciated long ago the freedom, responsibility and mobility that aviation could provide.
Bob realized that “flying is a lot of fun, but is also a great resource for business”. Bob has spent 20 years criss-crossing the country as an auto-parts consultant, and knows that efficient use of time is good for business. On the day of this interview, Bob was returning from the Cirrus dealer, a proud owner of a Cirrus SR-22 GTS complete with air-conditioning and an onboard oxygen system.
The things Bob most looks forward to is being able to take vacations down to the Bahamas. His most memorable trip so far has been a trip to an island off of Panama City. Located in a dense jungle, the airstrip was a short canoe ride to a deep-sea fishing port; a short while later marlin and sailfish were putting up a fight. Bob is not only seeking adventure, but a chance to share the thrill of flight with his grandchildren (when they are old enough). Granddaughter Colby is 14 months old, and his grandson Elliot is on the way. Very soon, these two will have a proud grandfather to share the skies with.
This college freshman will have more than your average amount of summer stories to tell her friends. On Tuesday August 12, Keeley Jones earned her private pilot certificate, just in time for her first semester at the University of Georgia.
From childhood, aviation was just a part of her life. She would often go for rides with a family friend who owned a helicopter and was also friends with the family of Georgia aviation icon and first aviator, Ben Epps. As she grew, so to did her involvement in the field. During high school, she was employed at Epps Aviation FBO at PDK as a Customer Service Representative, and began flying at a local flight school in the summer of 2007. With more flexible scheduling offered by American Flyers, Keeley changed schools and went on to earn her certificate, saying the check ride was “wonderful.”
Currently, Keeley is a business major, but has not yet made up her mind. However, she does know what career she wants to pursue, saying, “I would love to get into corporate flying.” And while she may only be moving into college for her first term, it won’t be long before she is ready to go.
Jeff Earnhart has made his dream into reality this year. On June 19, he became a private pilot, and couldn’t be happier. He has waited a long time for his training to begin, and with some dedication and a few pleasant surprises along the way he made it happen.
While growing up, Jeff’s grandfather would often take him for rides in his Piper Arrow; it was during these formative times when Jeff was inspired to learn to fly himself. However, scholastic responsibilities had to take priority; and throughout his high school and college career, Jeff never had the time to go after his goal. Even after graduation, he was forced to wait. But in the meantime he embarked on a successful career selling tools for the fabrication of marble countertops. His selling region encompasses North and South Carolina and Georgia.
It was in the beginning of this year when Jeff decided it was time to learn how to fly, and he, “just did it”. He enrolled at American Flyers in Atlanta and took his first training flight on May 1. As his training progressed, he remarked that he had not expected flight training to be so enjoyable, that it was “more fun than I thought,” and that before training he imagined it would be “more like work”.
With the earning of his private certificate, he immediately set to work on his instrument rating, and as of the day he gave this interview, he was only a few flight hours away from his check ride.
As he looks ahead, he sees his new skills as a “definite” boon to his career in sales, but as far as a flying career, it’s “just for myself,” although Jeff does have an interest in eventually pursuing a commercial license one day and maybe his instructor license as well. His immediate goal however, is to take his grandfather up for a ride.
In early November, Suzanne Stites became a private pilot. It was the culmination of her work and dedication and she couldn’t be happier. For Suzanne, aviation was something that she, “always wanted to learn,” and it was mostly a matter of setting the time to work. She had some experience from previous years, but never began an outlined training program. However, all that changed in May of this year when she enrolled in the private pilot course at American Flyers. Within two and a half weeks, she had completed most of her allotted flight and ground school time. As she finished her time requirements, she noticed that her flying skills had allowed her to, “think differently,” and in a more dynamic manner, this owing to the highly fluid environment of controlling an aircraft in flight.
Suzanne’s hard work paid off when she successfully completed her private pilot flight test. She called it a great, “sense of accomplishment,” and that her check ride was, “just another lesson where everything came together.” Congratulations on a job well done!
Renee Kerckhoff’s husband was listening as his wife spoke of her dream to fly, and a couple of years ago he bought her a Discovery Flight for their anniversary. Her dream transformed from an abstract wish into a reality that would require steadfast pursuit. In May of 2004 she started taking flying lessons with a young man who, it turned out, was more interested in building hours than seeing Renee achieve her dream. This became a pattern of start and stop through a variety of instructors until she’d accumulated almost 200 hours and still didn’t have her Private pilot certificate.
She called American Flyers during the summer to see what we could do for her. She liked what she heard and decided to wait until she had the time to do everything at once. Ultimately, it took her less than a week to finish her Private. “It was a great experience,”she said.
Husband, Peter, and their two daughters support Renee’s flying ambitions wholeheartedly. Renee was able to take her mother for a flight on her 75th birthday. Even though Mom was a little nervous at the time, now she brags about her daughter the pilot!
Although done with her Private, she’s nowhere near done with her goals. She’s planning on getting glass cockpit training and then she wants to become Instrument rated. All of this will help Renee and Peter achieve an even bigger objective: they want to do a touch and go at every airport in Missouri. Then Kansas. Then who knows where!
Brian Stanton came to American Flyers in the end of September with absolutely no experience. He became a Private pilot in less than 3 months while still maintaining his busy work schedule as an architect. A lifetime dream has been fulfilled, but the long term benefits he will enjoy are far more tangible than the satisfaction he feels at this moment. Brian lives in Dallas, but has his office in Houston. He figures the four hour car trip can be nearly cut in half. He is looking forward to reducing his airline travel substantially. He said, “I missed a flight not long ago, because they wouldn’t let me take my special equipment on board. What was I supposed to do? Leave my expensive equipment at the airport?
Learning to fly has always been a dream of Brian’s. He’s planning on getting his Instrument rating next and looking into buying an airplane. But the first thing he plans to do with his new Private pilot certificate is take his 11 year old son, Taylor, flying. It’s possible Taylor is even more excited than his dad. Brian’s advice to student pilots is to, “Do it in the shortest time. Fly frequently and study regularly. Otherwise you’ll have a fun time flying around, but never achieve your goal.” We’re looking forward to helping Brian reach is next goal.
Dr. Stephen Fletcher is a pediatric neurosurgeon at University of Texas, Houston. He has recently achieved his lifelong dream of becoming a pilot. While the dream may have remained a constant in his life, what he plans to do with this accomplishment has evolved into a noble cause. South Texas has a large population of under served medically needy and Dr. Fletcher’s goal is to fly to them and provide medical care they cannot otherwise get.
The dream to fly had been in Dr. Fletcher’s heart since he can remember. Between him and his dream, though, were the obstacles of life: college, children, financial constraints. When the time seemed right, he began his training at an FBO. He accumulated 60 hours and was just ready to take the written exam, when a tragedy occurred in his workplace. He put his dream temporarily on hold. When the time seemed right, he came back to his training, flew another 10 hours and was again prepared to take the written. A partner quit the firm and Dr. Fletcher put his training on hold once more.
Although nearly ready to give up his dream for good, he decided to call American Flyers. A plan was developed to complete his training and the school was able to help him train around his haphazard schedule so he was able to complete his training successfully. Dr. Fletcher has been flying around Texas since earning his Private Pilot certificate and plans to get his Instrument rating in the future.