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Summit AviationSummit Aviation

The leaders of Summit Aviation in Belgrade, Mont., believe that a balanced and proactive approach lead to a healthy flight school. The fact that the school is surrounded by a beautiful landscape and rents new airplanes with great visibility doesn’t hurt either.

Owner Ben Walton says the school has a robust safety program, mentors its flight instructors and manages them closely, has great airplanes, and ensures all staff members are well versed in sales.

The safety program offers an easy way for students to report anything they may see that they deem unsafe. Walton says that in any flight training program, safety is a key factor.

Walton engages their instructors through a weekly status meeting. “It builds camaraderie amongst instructors,” he says. They talk everything from safety to sales or success in the meeting, which he says keeps an individual instructor from feeling isolated.

Building off the theory that everyone is constantly selling in a flight school, whether one knows it or not, Walton brings in a sales professional once a year for a seminar the entire staff has to attend. He said the seminar is always upbeat, fun, and gets people excited and invested in the success of the business.

That’s not surprising when about 95 percent of the school’s instructors used to be its students. “We tell all our students who are interested that their training is a job interview,” Walton says. If they are studious, serious about training, and have the right attitude, they are given the opportunity to teach.

Teaching takeaway: Although Summit Aviation’s yearly sales seminar is largely unscripted, Walton says the staff loves it and comes away motivated. See a sample agenda.

Ian J. Twombly

Ian J. Twombly

Ian J. Twombly is senior content producer for AOPA Media.

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