The Moore County Airport Authority announced today that Total Flight Solutions LLC (TFS) of Louisburg, NC has agreed to open a pilot training facility at Moore County Airport. Bob Zschoche, Chairman of the Airport Authority, expects the new school will be operational by May 1st.
“This is a very exciting development for the airport and the Sandhills area,” explained. Zschoche. “There is no better way to bring the economic opportunities and adventure of aviation to the residents of Moore County than through a large, professional and well-equipped flight school.”
Total Flight Solutions is the premier flight training and commercial aerial services provider in the Raleigh area. The company currently operates a busy flight school at the Louisburg airport, northeast of Raleigh. With twelve aircraft, a large office and classroom facility, two aircraft simulators and an aircraft maintenance center they are a busy school and a successful business. In addition to flight training, TFS offers commercial aerial services including aerial photography, powerline and pipeline inspection, wildlife surveys and aviation support for special events. Growth at Louisburg is constrained by the lack of office and hangar space, even though the market would support a bigger operation.
“This expansion to the Sandhills is exactly the right answer for our company, coming at exactly the right time,” said Phil Greene, co-owner of Total Flight Solutions. “The facilities at Moore County are spacious, the runway is long, the airspace is uncrowded and the demand for pilot training is high. This is a win-win for everybody.”
While the Moore County airport has successfully operated a flight school for a number of years, featuring three Cessna training airplanes, a roster of eight instructors and dozens of students, it’s a simple fact that government agencies have difficulty running business that should be operated by the private sector.
“Philosophically, government agencies should not compete with the private sector,” Zschoche elaborated. “In fact, outside of military pilot training, our airport may have the only government-owned pilot training facility in the state and maybe in the entire country. Moving the school to TFS is a much better answer for the county, for the airport and for the student pilots.”
Barry Lerman, the member of the Airport Authority who handled most of the negotiations with TFS, agreed. “The airport flight school has been very successful and operated for a long time with a perfect safety record. But a flight school puts a great deal of liability on the County. Those liabilities are much better handled by entrepreneurs and private companies.”
The transition to the new environment is expected to be smooth. All of the students currently in the Moore County Flight School program will be picked up by TFS. TFS also will buy the Cessna airplanes owned by the airport, plus they will rent office and classroom spaces and buy fuel from the airport. All of the current instructors working for the airport will be employed by TFS, if they desire, and an administrative person will be hired to keep the ground operations organized and lessons scheduled. TFS also will assume the responsibility for advertising, sales, aircraft maintenance and training equipment, such as flight simulators. Perhaps most importantly, TFS will pick up the flight school portions of the Professional Pilot Program that has been in development with the Sandhills Community College (SCC).
“This is going to be the most seamless transition ever; we’re not coming in to ‘shake things up’ or restructure,” said Erik Thresher, Chief Instructor and Operations Manager for Total Flight. “The same instructors will be flying with the same students, in the same aircraft they already fly, with more students to come. We’ll supplement those airplanes with our current fleet, providing more aircraft for everybody to fly.”
“It’s amazing how much more flexible and more responsive a private enterprise can be,” Zschoche said. “Without the administrative handcuffs of government procedures, private companies can offer a better service, more quickly, tailored to the needs of the students and community, while still meeting the same high FAA standards for flight safety.”
The airport is not, however, “washing their hands” of the flight training environment. The staff of the Airport Authority will monitor the progress TFS makes with their expansion at the airport, and the Airport will continue to support the SCC flight program as well as an Aircraft Maintenance Program (AMP) which hopefully will become part of the new Advanced Career Center high school. The flight training program could even be a resource for the Advanced Career Center at the Moore County Schools and aviation specialties also could become part of the STEM educational thread in the classrooms.
The whole purpose of having a county airport, explained Zschoche, is to support aviation-related economic development, creating jobs and preparing residents for high-paying careers in aviation. “The Airport is ready to assist our community and schools in whatever way we can.”
The Moore County Airport was established in 1929 when the Tufts family, famous for their Pinehurst Resort, excavated a dirt runway in the region and named it “Knollwood Airport.” In 1935 the county acquired the airport for public uses. During World War II, the airport was leased to the Army Air Corps and was called Knollwood Army Auxiliary Airfield.
Today the airport offers a 6,500 foot runway and is equipped with state-of-the-art instrument approaches for use in inclement weather. There are about 90 hangars, a full maintenance facility and a flight school. About 6,000 planes land and depart from the airport annually.
For more details, contact the Moore County Airport at (910) 692-3212 or contact Total Flight Solutions LLC, Mr. Phil Greene, at (919) 497-5511.