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Not quite viralNot quite viral

Florida flight school lands on CNN website

First Landings Aviation owner Adam Valencic found out when one of his customers—who happens to be a former producer for CNN—wrote up his experience taking an accelerated program at the Apopka, Florida, flight school.

Matt Sloane completed the program so that he can operate a commercial drone for his business. Sloane described the sport pilot certificate and how it differs from the private pilot certificate in terms of cost and requirements. He gave a detailed account of his two weeks of training, from the first takeoff to the checkride—which he took in 12 days. “No more Super Nintendo flights, no more Microsoft Flight Simulator,” Sloane wrote. “Only the real thing.”

Sloane logged more than 30 hours during his training, and he was so enthusiastic about the experience that he plans to log another 10 hours and complete the private pilot add-on. “Hey, I’ve come this far!” he wrote.

It’d be great to tell you that in the days and weeks following the article’s appearance, First Landings has been swamped with customers. That isn’t quite the case. “Certainly people have mentioned it, but we’re not inundated with a line out the door,” Valencic said. However, he acknowledges that “any publicity helps.”

What’s significant is that “there is a possibility to turn that into a video feature on [CNN’s] website,” Valencic said. “We’re working with the student [and there is] the potential to take it further.”

A video could mean potentially thousands more eyeballs on the story and renewed interest in flying in general, as well as help to funnel potential customers to First Landings, which is one of the largest sport pilot flight schools in the nation. The school operates a fleet of six to seven Tecnam Light Sport aircraft that fly 100 hours a month, Valencic said. He said a review of the most recent FAA airmen statistics indicate that 10 percent of all sport pilots obtained their certificate through First Landings. 

Jill W. Tallman

Jill W. Tallman

AOPA Technical Editor
AOPA Technical Editor Jill W. Tallman is an instrument-rated private pilot who owns a Piper Cherokee 140.

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