WASHINGTON D.C. — Growing up in Pasadena, Calif., John Stonecipher’s future was forged as he watched police helicopters fly overhead. By 18, he was certified to fly. By 19, with an instructor’s certificate in hand, he was teaching others the intricacies of helicopter flight.
Stonecipher was recently named 2013 National Small Business Person of the Year by Karen Mills, administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration during SBA’s celebration of National Small Business Week.
Stonecipher is President and CEO of Guidance Aviation in Prescott, Ariz. He founded Guidance Aviation in 1998 at Prescott’s Municipal Airport.
From there, Stonecipher’s dream of creating a first rate, high altitude flight school literally took off, according to SBA officials, who note the company’s progression is a testament to success.
The school soon won FAA approvals, created alliances with the Yavapai Sheriff’s Office, won approval from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to train veterans, and received accreditation with Embry-Riddle University. Yavapai College has partnered with Guidance Aviation and offers an Associate of Applied Science Professional Helicopter Pilot Degree Program.
Today Guidance Aviation has a staff of 55, 14 aircraft and a waiting list of students ready to take flight into their futures.
“John is a perfect example of a person who is driven to reach his childhood dreams. He exemplifies what it means to be an entrepreneur. He has never given up and is always moving forward and up – literally and figuratively. I couldn’t be more pleased to name him as this year’s Small Business Person of the Year,” Mills said.
First runner-up for the award is Noah Leask, President and CEO of Ishpi Information Technologies, Inc. Mount Pleasant, S.C., a business that supports U.S. counter-terrorism efforts through information operations and intelligence support services. Clients include the U.S. Central Command and the Department of Homeland Security.
The second runner up is Kari Block, Founder/CEO, Earth Kind, Inc. Bismarck, N.D., which produces a rodent-repellant made with biodegradable ingredients.
The National Small Business Person of the Year and runners-up were selected from among the state winners in 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
For more information: SBA.gov