08/28/06 — New flight school ready to take off at county airport

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New flight school ready to take off at county airport

By Andrew Bell
Published in News on August 28, 2006 1:50 PM

Would-be pilots in and around Goldsboro won't have to travel to take flying lessons any more, starting this week.

Henley Aviations will open its flight school at the Goldsboro-Wayne County Municipal Airport Friday.

The airport hasn't had a flight school since Wayne Aviation Academy ceased operations in early June.

Several instruction schools expressed interest in offering lessons, said airport manager Jim Steele, but officials determined that Henley offered the best fit.

Johnny Henley of Henley Aviations has been a flight instructor at Lenoir Community College for several years. He is one of a few civilian instructors in eastern North Carolina who is certified to teach military personnel to fly through the Part 141 Flight School program.

Henley also is a designated examiner for the Federal Aviation Administration, Steele said.

Although Henley will maintain his operations in Kinston, he said expanding to Goldsboro was an easy decision.

"I wanted to go somewhere where I'd have flexibility and have the opportunity to expand. With the Air Force base, there are a lot of flight-oriented people," Henley said.

Henley also plans to offer training that will lead novice pilots to fly sports planes.

The new sports plane license was approved by the FAA two years ago. It permits a pilot to operate a lightweight aircraft only. Pilots who have a sport license do not have to pass an FAA medical examination. They only have to have a valid driver's license.

The sports plane phenomenon is booming, Henley said. In just the past year, 33 new aircraft geared toward pilots who have a sports plane license have entered the market, he pointed out. Obtaining a sports plane license is easier and cheaper than completing a full private pilot's course.

"It usually takes about three to six months to get a private pilot's license and costs about $6,000 to $8,000 to get it," Henley said. "With a sports license, it costs about $3,000, and you can comfortably get one in a month. I've even heard of some that have done it in a week."

Henley's office at the airport will be open Friday, and he said he expects to begin business in earnest after the Labor Day holiday. Students will initially have one aircraft on which they can learn with the help of local instructors, but Henley said he plans to expand his operations as the business grows.

"What makes the program unique is that I'm the instructor, and I run the business side of things, but I also run the entire program. Unlike other places, students know what to expect when they come in," Henley said.

To learn more about Henley Aviation, visit www.henleyaviation.com. To learn more about the Goldsboro-Wayne County Municipal Airport, call 734-7630.