The Parker County Airport is home to Nationwide Aviation flight school, established in 2011 by pilot Trevor Hall, which was recently awarded the 2019 Best Flight School in the Central Southwest.
Hall grew up in Sanger and quickly had a passion for flying, getting his pilot’s license the summer after he graduated high school. Hall then went to the University of Louisiana at Monroe on a track scholarship and studied aviation.
“I got my degree in aviation and got the rest of my ratings — instrument, commercial pilot, flight instructor — and then began working professionally as an instructor,” Hall said. “I actually started my business in 2011, but it was just me providing flight instruction services to people who owned their own planes. One of my first customers was an alligator farmer in Louisiana and I’d fly into his ranch and then live with him for about a week at a time and teach him how to fly.”
Hall started the Nationwide Aviation flight school in June of 2012, starting with one airplane at the airport, 3816 E. Interstate 20, in Hudson Oaks.
“Now we have three airplanes, four full-time instructors, maintenance staff and we’re flying almost 2,000 hours a year. We have about 35 active students at any given time,” Hall said. “It’s been a lot of fun. There’s a huge demand for pilots and just in the last three years we’ve doubled in volume every year, so that’s been really good.”
After starting at Nationwide as a student, Jon Pounds is now the chief flight instructor at the flight school.
“I’ve been with Nationwide for over a year now, I was a customer, and I’m military, and worked on the base out in Abilene and I would come out here in the mornings because there wasn’t a training that fit my needs out in Abilene,” Pounds said. “It ended up being great because I had learned at a really good school up in Illinois before I came here and this was like the same thing and I couldn’t believe it fell into my lap. I’m part time in the military now and I started officially as a [certified flight instructor] on May 31, and then the rest is history.”
Tyler Titus did his training at ATP Flight School in Arlington before joining the Nationwide Aviation team.
“I was looking for a place where I could be a flight instructor once I finished all my ratings,” Titus said. “I came over here and everybody seemed to be excited and wanting to fly and it’s a lot of general aviation, which made me want to fly more so than I was before. I started here at the beginning of September and [had] my first official student at the beginning of October.”
Hall, who is a full-time pilot for Southwest Airlines, said a lot of people come to Nationwide to gain the experience needed to take the next step into a flying career.
“A lot of guys come here and work for 12 to 18 months and then they have the experience if they go into corporate, like I did previously, or a regional airline,” Hall said. “They’re able to get all the experience necessary for that next step, here.”
Hall said Nationwide Aviation teaches students private pilot courses to get their instrument rating to fly in the clouds and commercial pilot rating to have a paid career.
“Our spectrum of customers here are anywhere from the retired guy that just wants the hobby to 18-year-olds that are becoming flight instructors, so we have the whole spectrum there,” Hall said.
Nationwide Aviation is the only flight school out of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Montana, Arizona, Louisiana and New Mexico to earn the best flight school recognition from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.
The awards were decided based on flight students and pilots that voluntarily reviewed their flight training experiences this past summer through the AOPA survey.
“Creating a genuine bond with a customer is crucial to creating a positive flight training experience,” AOPA’s Senior Director of Flight Training Education Chris Moser said in a release. “Based on the direct feedback we received in the survey, there is no doubt that this year’s winners have connected in a powerful way to their customers. These flight training providers are doing it right.”
And the passion shows when talking to Hall, Pounds and Titus about their love of being in the air.
“What I love most about it is the unlimited freedom. There’s nowhere else in the world where you can just go out to an airport, jump in a plane and go anywhere you want at any altitude, any speed. Other countries are so much more restrictive and there’s just nothing like being in the air,” Hall said. “Then beyond that, just the joy of flying is the lifestyle of learning. You learn something every day and that’s probably what I love most about it. It’s not just something you can master, it’s a lifestyle of learning.”
Pounds said he likes the challenge and being in control.
“I like the idea that it’s a difficult challenge and being in total control of the situation. The more I prepare, the more I can say I own this flight,” Pounds said. “There’s absolutely nothing that can phase me and that’s why I fell in love with flying. What really got me hooked was the structure of it and learning something new every day.”