Three years ago at AirVenture, Sean O’Donnell was awarded his Sport Pilot license.
This year he attended the show as one of the industry’s newest flight school owners.
In 2006 O’Donnell was one of the first recipients of an Able Flight Scholarship. The not-for-profit organization provides the means for disabled pilots to earn their Sport Pilot certificates in specially modified Light Sport Aircraft.
The Philadelphia resident earned his ticket in 2006 in a SkyArrow 600. A year later he was part of the Able Flight Barnstorming Tour, in which he and Brad Jones, another scholarship winner, flew to AirVenture in separate LSAs.
So what’s left after you’ve had that experience? Start your own flight school, of course.
O’Donnell took delivery of the school’s first SkyArrow 600 in February.
His flight school, Philly Sport Pilot, LLC, is at Woodbine Airport (1N4) south of Atlantic City.
“Our goal is to provide fun, safe, and affordable flight training for everyone,” he said. “Our motto is that flying is for everyone who wants to do it.
“We do outside of the box training,” he continued. “Whatever has kept you out of flying — be it a disability or finances — we are the school that you can come to and give it a whirl. We’re going to try to adapt to your needs to get you what you need to get going.”
The new school, which completed 150 hours of training in 2008, offers Sport Pilot and private pilot training.
“We are finding that the Sport Pilot ticket is very much a launching platform,” O’Donnell said.
When he’s not at the airport, O’Donnell works as the director of distance education for his alma mater, Villanova University in Pennsylvania.
“That job is how I pay for my flying,” he said with a laugh. “We all need real jobs outside of flying. The college has been incredibly supportive of my hobby.”
For more information: PhillySportPilot.com.