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National Flight Training Association Founded

In Service of Flight Training Organizations

Newly-founded to represent and safeguard the interests of U.S. professional flight training organizations, the Washington D.C.-based National Flight Training Association (NFTA) seeks to provide flight schools and aviation academies a unified voice by which to speak out on aerospace industry matters and legislation pertaining to such.

The organization is led by CEO Lee Collins, a former airline pilot and flight training professional. Mr. Collins is an accomplished aviator and aerospace industry veteran whose C.V. includes a number of leadership roles, including a stint as president of an airline industry trade association. Over a career spanning more than twenty years, Mr. Collins has demonstrated a marked propensity for success and a correlative understanding of airline safety, aviation legislation, U.S. federal governmental affairs.

“There are more than six-hundred FAA-termed ‘Pilot Schools’ in the United States; yet, there is a void in the conversation when it comes to actively including these flight training academies in national discussions on crucial issues impacting aviation in the United States,” Mr. Collins asserted. “With the National Flight Training Association, organizations who help train the next generation of pilots will have a seat at the table and a voice in Washington. The ongoing pilot shortage has made it clear that the aviation industry, which is critical to the U.S. economy, is in a fragile state and needs direction from a variety of stakeholders, including flight training organizations of all sizes. Legislation that impacts the flight training industry must be informed, in part, by that industry to fully understand its ramifications.”

NFTA’s board consists of five founding members elected to serve three-year terms:

  • Nayda Cattin, Vice President of Cirrus Aviation in Sarasota, Florida; NFTA Vice President, Government Affairs
  • Bill Heckathorn, President and Founder of Ignite Flight Academy in Lincoln, Nebraska; NFTA Vice President, Membership
  • Ed Comisky, Designated Pilot Examiner and President, Echo Charlie Aviation, Orlando, Florida; NFTA Secretary/Treasurer
  • Christopher Schoensee, President and Owner of Paragon Flight Training, Fort Myers, Florida; NFTA Vice President, Marketing
  • Captain Troy E. Wheeler, Jr, President, Lanier Flight Center, LLC, with two locations in Georgia; NFTA Board President

NFTA Board President Troy E. Wheeler remarked: “The time has come for the Flight Training Industry to assume its necessary place as a leading stakeholder in the aviation world. Our leadership team is without rival, and we intend to have an immediate impact on issues involving our nation’s critical aviation infrastructure.”

NFTA’s first year agenda will focus on an array of critical issues intended to produce the safest, most efficient and cost-effective training for America’s future pilots. Mr. Collins categorized NFTA’s issue-driven agenda as “strong,” and posited the association is perfectly positioned to pursue its goals with alacrity and determination.

“NFTA will represent our members’ best interests with a strong and united voice in the national dialogue,” Collins set forth. “We will be aggressive in our timelines and a trusted partner with other organizations, regulators, and our legislative bodies to affect real change now.” Collins concluded: “For more than ten-years, Congress has called for the industry, along with the FAA, to produce the world’s finest aviators, and do so quickly to meet demand while simultaneously using technology to maximize efficiency and reduce costs. Our member organizations are uniquely positioned to do just that.”

Flight training academies are encouraged to join the organization that they might, by dint of voice and vote, help shape the future of the flight training industry and police the personnel and policies of regulatory agencies predisposed to overreach. To date, upwards of two dozen flight training organizations have allied with NFTA.

NFTA is headquartered at 1101 Pennsylvania Avenue, in Washington, D.C., and maintains a satellite office on the grounds of Florida’s Punta Gorda airport (PGD).



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