New flight school comes to Chandler airport - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

New flight school comes to Chandler airport

April 12th, 2021 SanTan Sun News
New flight school comes to Chandler airport

By Kevin Reagan
Staff Writer

Chandler Municipal Airport is welcoming a new flight school that will train the next generation of aspiring aviators.

Sierra Charlie Aviation, a Scottsdale-based school, is opening another location in Chandler for students living in the East Valley.

The company plans to bring a handful of airplanes down to Chandler for its first class of students and gradually expand its operations in the coming years.

Luke Ormsby, Sierra’s marketing director, said Chandler seemed like the perfect location to add another flight school since the East Valley probably has many students uninterested in commuting to Phoenix or Scottsdale every day.

“It’s going to be so crucial for those college students who maybe don’t like those bigger programs,” he said. “Now they’re going to have a home right next door.”

Sierra Charlie trains students to work for airlines by offering a customized curriculum intended to conform to the strengths and weaknesses of each pupil.

“We kind of service everyone and their needs,” Ormsby added. “We really train all different types of students, not just one set type of student.”

The school prides itself on its selective hiring practices for new flight instructors. Only one or two teachers may be picked from a large stack of resumes, Ormsby said.

Sierra Charlie aims to offer a higher quality of instruction, he said, noting more than a dozen professionally-trained pilot examiners will be available to check the skills of each student throughout the training process.

“What that allows us to do is create really good pilots to pass any test,” Ormsby added. “We know we’re creating a really good product.”

The school’s enrollment can vary between 40 and 60 at any given time, with students striving to earn a variety of licenses to fly commercial and charter planes.

Sierra Charlie flies with a uniform fleet of new G1000 Cessna Skyhawks that are equipped with modern flight deck technologies, which will allow students to transition to flying more complex aircraft with greater ease.

The school was originally founded five years ago by Scott Campbell, a former Marine and pilot, after he noticed a need for better instruction at the Valley’s flight schools.

After spending some time flying cargo planes around Alaska, Campbell relocated back to the Valley and decided to open up a school that could help younger pilots feel more confident and comfortable in the cockpit.

“Learning to fly is an incredibly rewarding and life-changing experience,” the founder said.

Sierra Charlie has already been recognized by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association as one of the most distinguished flight schools in Arizona and was named the West Pacific region’s best school two years ago.

Chandler Airport had been known for years as a busy destination for training the Valley’s aeronautical students. Quantum Helicopters has long been using the public airport as the headquarters for its school and training center.

City officials believe the school will be a unique addition to the airpark.

“We are thrilled Sierra Charlie Aviation chose Chandler Municipal Airport to expand their flight training center,” said Mayor Kevin Hartke. “Their use of the latest technology and state-of-the-art aircraft to educate our future pilots makes a natural fit in our community of innovation.”