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on a downhill that any snowboarder would appreciate. But still, Simon had a desire to build a business so he went out and purchased a brand new Robinson R44 Raven II. “If we get the right people on board it should suc- ceed,” was his thinking. So his first employee was Michael Everhart (CFII/Part 135 charter pilot) and soon their tour business was born. Mike was committed to giving the kind of service above and beyond what customers expected, and in 2010 they were given the Travel Channel’s “Best Helicopter Tour Operator” Award. But Mike and Simon wanted to do

more than just tours, so an R22 Beta II was added for training. One month their R22 flew 210 hours, quite an accomplishment juggling that kind of schedule between students, instructors


and scheduled maintenance. Simon can’t say enough about his mechanic, Casey Sanders, and the importance given to maintenance. “I believe Casey to be the most reliable and meticulous mechanic there is,” he says. After that month, it was apparent

they needed another helicopter, so the second R22BII was added to the fleet. Obviously they also needed another CFI as well, and Alex Kriewall (now Chief Flight Instructor) joined the team. Sitting in a room with Alex, Mike

and Simon I had to ask: what is so dif- ferent about Elite than other flight schools? Alex spoke up about their one-on-one ground school. “We never had a structured ground school where I learned to fly,” Alex said. Mike speaks about their commitment to help each student achieve their goals, whether


that be initial training, instrument or CFI training. I know a few things about Mike and his abilities as a CFII since his name is scattered throughout my own personal logbook. But the best accolades come from

the students themselves. They come from all over the world, from both Europe and Australia. One student with extensive military experience talks about Alex. good.

“His technique is very He is very thorough and

methodical (so) I am continuing to get my instrument and commercial add-on with them,” the student noted. So what’s next for Elite? For Part

133 training, they work with Blackjack Helicopters out of Van Nuys and have put together a 10-hour introduction to vertical reference work flying the R44. Taught by a 9,000-hour pilot, this

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