Lorenzo Jensen went on a short jaunt several years ago with daughter Nicolle when she was taking flight training lessons and immediately was hooked.
“He’s lived and breathed aviation ever since,” Jackie Jensen, his wife, told Iola Rotarians Thursday.
Now the Jensens are immersed in a flight training business, Accel Aviation, at Allen County Airport.
Accel was formed by purchasing Star-Bright Aviation assets — two airplanes, an office building and dormitory at the airport — effective Jan. 1. A contract completed with the county in late January gives the family firm hanger access rent-free for three years, three more at $100 a month and annual options after that.
Jensen outlined the business and talked about advantages it gives Allen County Airport.
She noted that in addition to herself and her husband and Nicolle and her husband Justin, sons Zo and Dakota were involved in Accel’s ownership. The family also owns and operates J&J Contractors, which builds box bridges and does other highway construction work.
Accel is flying cargo — a few days ago Gates Corporation took advantage — and soon will provide charter passenger service.
Airplanes, including two twin-engine and one with avionics that permits it to land in the foulest of weather, are available for rent.
Jensen noted accelerated flight training, an Accel specialty, was made possible by having the dormitory with 10 sleeping rooms at the airport. The company offers a broad range of licenses and certifications, from single engine private to complex and high performance endorsements, she said.
Rob Jordan, the lead instructor, is well-versed in any airplane that Allen County Airport’s 5,500-foot runway can handle. He has about 14,000 hours of flying time and “all he cares about is being in the air and helping people,” Jensen said. Prior to becoming a full-time instructor, Jordan spent 12 years with Ray-theon/Beechcraft as a corporate pilot.
Jensen opined that having an aggressive flight school operating from the airport would be an advantage when the county sought grants to improve facilities and also likely would lead to employment of a mechanic, a prerequisite for location of a medical helicopter service, such as Eagle Med.
“We also plan to approach Allen County Community College about programs to involve its students,” she said.
A reservation she admitted to having when family discussion about buying Star-Bright arose was the fear of terrorists taking advantage of a rural flight school. No need to worry, Jensen learned. Federal vetting of potential students, in particular foreign nationals, is exceedingly stringent.
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