Thursday, March 29, 2018

Sponsor Announcement: Elite Aviation Joins The Aero Experience Team!

By Carmelo Turdo
The Aero Experience is proud to announce that Elite Aviation has joined our team as a sponsor and advertiser! Elite Aviation, based on the northwest apron of Spirit of St. Louis Airport at the end of Edison Avenue, has established itself as the premier flight school and piston-engine maintenance center in the St. Louis area since moving into the West Terminal last spring. Elite Aviation management and staff are highly experienced, and they strive to provide unparalleled quality of service and professionalism to their customers.   

Cessna Pilot Center Flight Training Program

Elite Aviation, an authorized Cessna Pilot Center, offers the most comprehensive flight training program in the St. Louis area while providing a personalized approach to learning that brings maximum effectiveness to the student. From the outset, a student and certified flight instructor work together to design a training plan that provides regular interaction along the path to obtaining a Private Pilot or higher level certificate or rating. The flight instruction curriculum and progress checks are standardized, using Cessna Flight Training System on-line interactive learning along with additional materials recommended by the flight  instructors themselves. At all points along the training program, flight instructors integrate a variety of training tools and methods including: one-on-one ground school tutoring; flight training in late model Cessna Skyhawk aircraft using conventional and G1000 instrumentation; simulator training in the Elite RC1 and full-motion Redbird MCX programmable flight simulators; and progress checks with other flight instructors who provide a new perspective on the level of progress achieved by the student-flight instructor team.

Another convenient service provided by Elite Aviation is FAA exam administration. Elite Aviation is a PSI Computer Aided Testing Service test center for airman, A&P mechanic and the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Drone Knowledge Test exams. Contact Elite Aviation for availability.

Flight training is a continuous process, building on the skills and knowledge demonstrated at each level of achievement. Recurrent, instrument and complex aircraft training is available using the Elite Aviation fleet of Cessna 172 Skyhawks, flight simulators and the newly-arrived Piper Turbo Saratoga. Multi-engine training is available using the flight simulators, and it will also soon be available in a fleet aircraft. Elite Aviation is ready to provide your flight training solution. 

The Elite Aviation fleet is also available for rental, and the aircraft are cared for by the Elite Aircraft Maintenance Service team. Contact Elite Aviation for availability. 

Elite Aircraft Maintenance Service

Elite Aviation provides comprehensive maintenance services for piston-engine aircraft at their Spirit of St. Louis Airport facility. The Elite service team performs and coordinates the work needed for inspections, airframe and powerplant repair, engine overhaul, avionics and ADS-B upgrades, oxygen service and preventive/seasonal maintenance so important for safe and legal operation of aircraft. Elite Aviation's experienced maintenance staff provides a higher-level of service that emphasizes quality-control and a "Done right, the first time" philosophy. The customer relationship is of the utmost importance, and Elite Aviation stands behind the quality of their maintenance services. Elite Aviation can also assist in the acquisition and processing of your next aircraft purchase, including the pre-buy inspection. Contact Elite Aviation for availability. 

Serving the Community 

Elite Aviation provides high-quality flight training, aircraft rental, aircraft maintenance, and other aviation support services as mentioned above. They also serve the aviation community and the public regularly by supporting youth and professional development programs in cooperation with other like-minded organizations. Elite Aviation has hosted the flight portion of youth summer camps sponsored by the St. Louis Science Center, fantasy flights for critically ill children, and a food drive for Circle of Concern Food Pantry. Recently, Elite Aviation hosted ground handling training for A&P mechanic candidates from Southwestern Illinois College. The monthly Elite Speaker Series features interactive presentations on aviation topics in cooperation with the local FAA Flight Standards District Office and featuring local aviation subject experts from the public and private sectors. Elite Aviation was a major sponsor of the recent Super Safety Seminar weekend event held at St. Louis University. Elite Aviation is preparing for its second public Open House and Fly-In to be held on April 21, and first flight experiences will be available that day on a first-come, first-served basis. More details will follow shortly.


The Aero Experience thanks Elite Aviation for their many great contributions to Midwest Aviation and for joining our team as a sponsor and advertiser. We will highlight the services mentioned above in future stories, and we encourage our audience to contact Elite Aviation for your flight training and aviation services needs.

Monday, March 26, 2018

AIAA St. Louis Section Holds March Dinner Meeting at Wings of Hope

By Carmelo Turdo
Brad Rafferty of AIAA St. Louis
The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), St. Louis Section, held their March dinner meeting last Thursday evening at the Wings of Hope World Headquarters at Spirit of St. Louis Airport. Pizza and aircraft go well together, especially in this modern facility. AIAA St. Louis Section has developed a relationship with Wings of Hope through the Young Ambassadors Program, which encourages young professionals to support Wings of Hope international projects through social, educational and fund-raising events. The next Young Ambassadors event, a plane wash fund-raiser, will be held April 28 at Wings of Hope. Dr. Jessica Watson, Global Programs and Partnerships Director, Coordinates the Young Ambassadors program. 

The AIAA was created through the merger of the American Rocket Society and Institute of the Aerospace Sciences in 1963 to "Ignite and celebrate aerospace ingenuity and be your lifelong link to the aerospace community and a champion for its achievements." AIAA serves a diverse community in the aerospace field, providing a means for professional information exchange, archival references, publishing, industry advocacy and related services. Members and community groups are recognized annually through a prestigious awards program offered at the national and local levels. The Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum received the 2013 Civic Service Award from AIAA St. Louis Section (Museum President Mark Nankivil accepting left below), and Dr. Frederick Roos received the Section Service Award (below right). 


Wings of Hope is a global humanitarian charity that serves as an aviation non-profit organization.  The mission statement contains the objectives of delivering humanitarian programs to the poor and assisting communities in gaining self-sufficiency.  Using aircraft to reach remote places is the logical method. 

Starting in 1959, various Catholic ministries started providing humanitarian air services in Kenya.  Not unlike Charles Lindbergh's preparations for the first solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean, Bishop Houlihan approached St. Louis businessmen Bill Edwards, Joe Fabick, Paul Rodgers and George Haddaway to listen to his needs and provide the seed money for the first Cessna U206 used by the newly-minted United Missionary Air Training and Transport.  As news of this first successful aircraft service spread, more aircraft were needed.  Wings of Hope incorporated in 1967, and has since provided humanitarian and development services around the world and in the U.S. through an inter-faith approach to serving the needs of all mankind.

The original mission of providing humanitarian aid to people in developing countries using aircraft continues, and includes significant investment in programs that address health, education, economic opportunity and food security.  Basic preventative health care services are accomplished through traveling clinics on a regular basis.  Examples include flying medical clinics in Tanzania, the use of a Cessna 172 aircraft for emergency transport and preventive dental services in Nicaragua and the use of donated buses for medical clinics in Myanmar. 
Education programs include a significant effort in Cambodia that provides after school education in English and computer classes to improve the job prospects for the students.  Also, university scholarships and training programs help to equip students to mentor others and lift up whole communities.

Economic development programs include a microfinance program for women to develop businesses in Kenya and work centers in India to assist in the creation of new businesses.  Both methods provide opportunities for women to participate in gaining self-sufficiency for their families.  Food security programs, like the chicken farming initiative in Ecuador, strive to equip the women of their communities with a means to sustain food production beyond the initial donations of eight chicks.

In the U.S., Wings of Hope continues to provide the Medical Relief and Air Transport (MAT) Program from its base in St. Louis.  The program was established in 2003 to provide access to life-saving health care within the Midwest to those who are unable to obtain or sustain transportation to specialty care facilities.  This is accomplished using corporately-owned aircraft and volunteer pilots and medical staff.  200-300 flights are made each year within a range of 600 miles from St. Louis. Options are being studied to increase the effectiveness of this program by serving more patients and covering more of the country.   

The guest speaker for the meeting was Bret Heinrich, President and CEO of Wings of Hope. He gave some insights into the operations of the organization. One difference between Wings of Hope and other humanitarian aviation groups is that the aircraft are corporately owned, while the pilots and most of the maintenance personnel are volunteers. "We are unique in that we fly our own aircraft," he told the AIAA members attending the dinner meeting. He mentioned that there are currently 56 aircraft in the fleet, though not all of them are being used directly in the field. About 20 aircraft are donated to Wings of Hope each year. "When a plane comes through that door into our hangar, one of two things happens to that plane," he continued. "It either gets put into the mission field somewhere around the world to serve humanity or it's sold for program revenue." The hangar was full of aircraft, some used for the MAT Program (seen above), others undergoing maintenance for future missions work, and others being refurbished for sale or raffle to raise funds for on-going operations. Heinrich said that Wings of Hope is able to allocate ninety cents of every dollar, significantly higher than expected by charity rating organizations, to perform the missions described above. Wings of Hope has been nominated twice for the Nobel Peace Prize, and no doubt will be nominated again in the future.

Following the Bret Heinrich's talk and the presentation of an AIAA challenge coin, the AIAA St. Louis Section members and guests were given a tour of the facility. Dr. Jessica Watson led the group through the lobby and hall exhibits, and Bob Zbylut, pilot and volunteer A&P mechanic, conducted the hangar tour.   

The Aero Experience commends the cooperative effort between AIAA St. Louis Section and Wings of Hope Young Ambassadors. We thank Wings of Hope President and CEO Bret Heinrich, Dr. Jessica Watson, Brad Rafferty, Adam Kruger and all who contributed to the March Dinner Meeting and the joint work throughout the year.