Vail Valley Bizwatch: Eagle County business provides flight training
Ryan Summerlin April 22, 2013
Business name: Alpine Flight Training.
Location: Eagle County Airport.
Date opened: June 2010.
Owners: Loren and Jennifer French.
Contact info: Call 970-401-5105 or email email@example.com.
What goods or services do you provide? We provide flight training to help our clients achieve their goals. For some people that means learning to fly for fun and becoming a private pilot. For others, their goal is to train to become a commercial pilot and start a new career.
We also provide aircraft rental, and frequently work with people who are already licensed pilots and just need to learn safe mountain flying techniques, or even pilots that learned to fly years ago and stopped, and now want to get back into it.
What’s new or exciting at your place? Probably the most exciting thing is seeing people reaching milestones and achieving their goals. Every time a new student flies solo or someone completes the flight test earning their license that’s very exciting.
As for the business end of things, we’re always working to improve our mountain flying curriculum with new scenarios and information. This summer we’re planning to open a second office in Montrose, and we just brought on another aircraft for training and rental, a Piper Archer.
What strategy do you use to differentiate your business from your competition? The biggest differentiator between our business and other flight training options is our efficiency in getting students across the finish line. Our consistent ability to get people through the training and licensed is in part due to the quality of our instructional team, but also our availability, as well as the volume of training and frequency with which we complete licenses. Many instructors teach flying part time as a hobby business, as a result they may only certify one pilot every other year, whereas we certify 15 to 20 pilots each year.
What philosophy do you follow in dealing with your customers? While we do in fact have a team of instructors, I like to stay closely tied in to where every student is in their training. I take a personal interest in the progress and status of each and every pilot in our school, and how they are progressing. I want to know that every student that came through the door learned 100 percent of what they needed to in order to become a safe and competent pilot. I also look for hurdles students may be encountering, and then help them through those challenges as needed.
What can your customers expect from you? Our customers can expect a great flight training experience with us. They can expect quality instruction, efficient use of their time, well-maintained, safe aircraft, and rates that are competitive with larger areas like Denver. They can expect to reach their goals, whether that’s learning to fly for recreation or as a new career.
Tell us a little about your background, education and experience: All of our instructors have interesting and different backgrounds and experience, and that’s one of the reason our team is so great. In terms of my background specifically, I have a B.S. in Aviation from Utah Valley University, and pilot’s licenses for a variety of fixed-wing aircraft, including gliders. I also am licensed to instruct a diverse range of students from initial flight training for a private license to commercial multi-engine instrument or even train people to be instructors. I’m a Gold Seal FAA Certified Instructor, a NAFI Master Instructor, and also an FAA-designated safety team representative. I originally learned to fly right here at the Eagle airport in the mid ’90s, and have worked in a variety of roles in different aviation businesses.
What is the most humorous thing that has happened at your business since you opened? After we have fully train a student, they go to a flight test with an independent FAA examiner. The students seem to always find it humorous to call me from the flight test and tell me they failed the test (even though none of our students ever have actually failed). Anyway, some are more believable than others and occasionally it still catches me off guard.