Iowa & Minnesota Flight Instructors Nationally Recognized

PALM SPRINGS, CALIF. – The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) announced October 10, 2012, the winners of the inaugural “Flight Training Excellence Awards” at the AOPA Aviation Summit in Palm Springs, Calif. Selected from almost 2,500 nominations, the awards recognize schools and flight instructors that are providing the very highest standard of training and customer service.

The five flight school award winners are: Aviation Adventures, Leesburg, Virginia; Rochester Aviation, Rochester, N.H.; the East Hill Flying Club, Ithaca, N.Y.; The Flight School, Cypress, Texas; and Summit Aviation, Belgrade, Mont.

The three flight instructor award winners are: Timothy Miller of Leading Edge Aviation in West Jordan, Utah; Kevin Bradford of the University of Dubuque in Dubuque, Iowa; and Devan Shepherd of Shoreview, Minn.

The president’s award winners are Lakeland, Fla.’s Tailwheels, Etc. and San Marco, Texas-based Redbird Skyport. Finally, the student’s choice award winner was Virginia-based Aviation Adventures, which also won under best flight schools.

“We created the Flight Training Excellence Awards as part of a long-term, industry-wide effort dedicated to increasing the percentage of students who earn a pilot certificate,” said AOPA CEO Craig Fuller. “We feel it’s important to have positive role models, so we are encouraging the industry to look at these examples of success and draw inspiration and encouragement from them.”

The Flight Training Excellence Awards program, announced in January, received nominations via a special website that guided reviewers through a detailed questionnaire. This allowed schools and instructors to be measured against 47 distinct elements that AOPA’s research has shown to create an optimal flight training experience.

The program has allowed AOPA to identify and recognize the highest levels of achievement, with the goal of encouraging others to adopt the characteristics of success. The process also created an extensive database of information on how customers feel flight schools and instructors are performing. This data will form the backbone of further efforts to promote a more professional, predictable and customer-centric approach to flight training.

The Flight Training Excellence Award winners will each receive a custom trophy and the support of a public relations agency to help promote their success locally. Plaques will also be sent to an “Honor Roll” of 75 schools and instructors who all demonstrated a high standard of accomplishment.

The awards will continue on an annual basis under the umbrella of AOPA’s new “Center to Advance the Pilot Community,” which has been established to help reverse the slow decline in the pilot population.

For profiles on all award winners, and the full Honor Roll list, go to

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