Ithaca Flight School Receives National Recognition

Ithaca’s East Hill Flying Club just announced that it was one of only six flight schools in the country to receive the 2012 Flight Training Excellence Award from the 400,000-member Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA). Established sixty years ago, the club is based at the Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport.

David St. George, chief instructor and manager of the club, recently attended AOPA’s Aviation Summit in Palm Springs, California to accept the award. Five other schools also received the award – two in Texas, and one each in New Hampshire, Virginia, and Montana.
St. George said that the award recipients were chosen through analysis and vetting by an independent auditing firm. “Since most flight schools are commercial operations, AOPA was surprised and elated that a flying club was among the winners.”

The club’s member-oriented structure is a key reason that the operation was highly ranked in the award nomination and selection process, according to St. George. Research by AOPA revealed that an optimal flight training experience needs to include educational quality, customer focus, community involvement, and effective information sharing, and the award was based on those criteria.

St. George said the club’s staff and board work hard to cultivate member interaction through social media and events, including semi-annual pancake breakfasts that attract around 1,000 attendees from the community. However, while one goal is a fun and easygoing atmosphere, St. George explained that the club also cultivates and enforces an unwavering commitment to safety.

One distinction of the club’s flight training activities is that they are approved by the FAA under the agency’s Part 141 regulations, which specify a more structured method for pilot training based on an FAA syllabus and other high standards. The nominations for the AOPA award made numerous references to the club’s focus on safety.

Another reason that AOPA works to raise awareness about flight training quality is that forecasts predict the North American aviation industry will need over 82,000 pilots in the next twenty years. Over the decades, a number of EHFC students have pursued successful careers in aviation, and St. George said that the continuing growth of the club will help meet that need, as well as being a transportation and recreation resource for the region.

Article reprinted with permission from www.LansingStar.com

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