THIS DFW FAMILY IS TRAINING TOMORROW'S PILOTS TODAY
By Evan Hoopfer - Staff Writer, Business Journal
December 12, 2019
The Sykes family took over US Aviation Academy in 2006 during one of the toughest times to be in the pilot training business.
Five years earlier, the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks rocked the industry. And just a couple of years later, the transportation sector, which is so heavily dependent on broader economic conditions, took another hit during the global financial crisis. Airlines were hemorrhaging money and consolidating to stay alive. As a result, pilots weren’t being hired.
American Airlines didn’t hire a single pilot for 13 years. “We went through a phase there where it was really pretty rough,” said Mike Sykes, chief executive of Denton-based US Aviation Academy. “For a good decade or more, a lot of the senior guys in the industry had a bad taste in their mouth and they’re telling their kids and anyone else they can get in front of, ‘Don’t go down this path that I did. You’ll get furloughed, you’ll have all these problems, you don’t know if you’ll have a job the next day.’” In the latter half of this decade, airlines started to get their feet under them as the domestic economy flourished. Airlines expanded networks. They hired employees to fuel growth.
Companies like US Aviation are now grappling with an evolving industry. A decade ago entering the pilot industry was a daunting prospect. But today might be the best time for young pilots looking to make a career in the industry.