December 8, 2009
By Ian J. Twombly
Looking to expand your flight school to a second location? Why not open an airport? It seems like a crazy prospect, but that’s just what the owners of North Andover Flight Academy in Lawrence, Mass., did recently.
As one of the school owners was staking out a new location in upstate New York, he drove past “this overgrown airport,” according to chief flight instructor Curt Peredina. The flight school owner approached the owner of the privately owned, public-use airport, who agreed to lease it to the school. Now Maxson Airfield (89N) in Alexandria Bay, N.Y., is open with a flight school, a maintenance shop, and fuel for transients.
“As soon as the locals saw us up there, they brought their tractors, bush hogs, and food,” said Peredina. “They were just happy to see the airport open.”
And the local nonpilots weren’t the only ones happy to see the airport open. Within a few days of opening for business, a fleet of single-engine airplanes came in and gave their thanks for the airport reopening. The flight school business is booming in a down economy. North Andover Flight Academy only offers rotorcraft training, and despite a sparse population base, students are already training hard. “One guy was traveling to Connecticut to train,” said Peredina.
For now the school will get by with two Robinson helicopters through the winter. But come summer they hope to cash in on a lucrative tourist business with sightseeing flights of the local area.
Reopening the airport is the latest in a series of unique steps for the school, which is seeking to become the first in the country with an FAA-approved FITS curriculum.
Flight Training Editor Ian J. Twombly joined AOPA in 2003 and is an instrument flight instructor.
Continuing significant orders to the training market shows that Piper Aircraft is making progress in its three-year plan to gain market share in that competitive arena.
L-3 Aviation Products plans to join the general aviation ADS-B world with its Lynx MultiLink Surveillance System. The new products will be “specifically tailored to fit the panel and budget of today’s general aviation aircraft and pilots,” said Larry Riddle, vice president of sales and marketing.
It was a big day for the newly resurrected Mooney International Corp. Mooney president Jerry Chen handed over the keys to the first airplane to roll out of the Kerrville, Texas, manufacturer’s newly reactivated factory site.
VOLUNTEER AT AN AOPA FLY-IN NEAR YOU!
SHARE YOUR PASSION. VOLUNTEER AT AN AOPA FLY-IN. CLICK TO LEARN MORE >>>
VOLUNTEER LOCALLY AT AOPA FLY-IN! CLICK TO LEARN MORE >>>
BE A PART OF THE FLY-IN VOLUNTEER CREW! CLICK TO LEARN MORE >>>