When Mike Jones, Chief Flight Instructor, and his student Kristine Beard taxied onto the runway Aug. 16, 2017, at the Central Flying Service Flight School, they made Arkansas aviation history.
That flying lesson marked 475,000 hours of flight training at Arkansas’ oldest and one of the nation’s longest continually operated flight schools.
When Claud Holbert, 29, founded Central Flying Service (CFS) in 1939 it was a civilian flight training school. Soon, Army Air Force pilots would be trained there.
Eventually, the Holbert family would build CFS into the nation’s largest FBO, measured by facilities under roof/square footage.
“When NATA was founded in 1940, Central Flying Service was a charter member,” Obitts said. “It is with great pride that the association honors one of its earliest members with our NATA Aviation Milestone Award. We commend CFS for their commitment to developing one of the most valuable resources for the industry, our professional pilot supply. CFS is a NATA member that is really making a difference in attracting future pilots.”
“We are proud of our company’s long and distinguished history and honored to provide critical pilot training for the aviation industry,” Dick Holbert said. “We deeply appreciate the recognition and presence of NATA and FAA here to honor us and to share this significant occasion. We continue our commitment to train pilots and provide a steady source of graduates for years to come.”
When the Civilian Pilot Training Program (CPT) was created, CFS was successful in securing the contract in affiliation with Little Rock Junior College (now University of Arkansas at Little Rock). The civilian contracts were converted to War Pilot Training (WPT), when the U.S. was attacked by air at Pearl Harbor and war was declared.
The CFS Flight Training program has been in continuous operation since.
From 1982 to 1992, CFS managed the Henderson State University degree program in aviation. Most recently, CFS provided the flight training for Pulaski Technical College’s associate degree program until PTC’s merger with the University of Arkansas system last fall.
In addition to flight training, CFS is engaged in aircraft sales, charter flying services and aircraft maintenance in its facilities at Adams Field/Little Rock.