In 2011 we started out in the garage of Eric’s home. Students slept in the Farewell’s home and Nelle often provided 3 meals a day to keep our clients fueled on their journey to the sky.
Our First Real Shop
In 2014 we moved into our first shop in Lake Wales. It was a small commercial space in an industrial park. It may have been small but it felt so official! We finally had a home away from home. Our classroom was tiny and was also our office AND showroom (Oh, and Eric’s brother James lived in it when he was hired as our first employee).
Expanding Our Vision:
2015 brought us a whole new world of space. A 1930 Packard automobile dealership became available and we moved into it’s 10,800 square feet! It was a wreck and required dozens of dumpster loads to be taken away… As well as almost a hundred gallons of paint and more cleaning products than we care to admit! Finally we had a classroom, a showroom, offices and four bedrooms we could use. The only downside? The flying field was a ten minute drive away and that added up day after day.
On to the Airport... Finally!
In 2016 after over one hundred meetings at City Hall (seriously) we finally made our move to Lake Wales Airport. Our new bright red schoolhouse was all set to become an icon and “home” to many Aviators. Originally used as a wing repair facility, we’d had it moved from Christmas, FL and re-assembled at X07. Adding windows, carpet, offices, and most importantly… Air conditioning!
Since 2016 we’ve trained several hundred pilots in this location. But in 2018 it became clear that we just couldn’t help enough people change their lives from just one location.
The North Complex
In 2018 we developed a new need. We’d become importers for Fly Products, Parajet, and Air Conception. We kept re-investing in inventory and we’d completely run out of space to store it! When a hangar became available at our airport we leapt at the chance to ensure we’d have space for everything we needed to support our clients. As a bonus, it has become a favorite gathering place for celebrating each class after they’ve taken flight.
The Next Chapter.
In 2019, we knew we wanted to open a second training school. We knew we wanted it to be near enough to our original location so we could move quickly between them and position ourselves to ensure both schools were creating a near identical experience for each student.
The hunt was on for months… Then thanks to a hot tip from Bo Feldman (the young man who flew his paramotor to Oshkosh from Florida, Click Here for the article), we found an ideal location at the Marion County Airport in Dunnellon, FL (airport identifier X35). The flying field was massive and though it was run down, there was a hangar that would eventually make a great, equally iconic red schoolhouse.
We spent months cleaning, repairing, and painting and Aviator X35 was born… Welcoming it’s first class on January 2nd, 2020
Where to next?
2020 brought lots of surprises including a couple of wonderful travel classes. We had planned to expand out West this year but the travel classes worked so well we plan to repeat them next summer. We’re always looking into the potential of expanding somewhere and growing the community of Aviators. If you have a recommendation on where we should train, please fill out our Location Selection Form.
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