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Twin and Turbine News story – A Career Celebrated

Article by Twin and Turbine originally appeared on the website on  March 18, 2024.  To view the original article Click Here.

A Career Celebrated
It was the summer of 1988, a few weeks after graduating high school, and I had decided to pursue an aviation education at the Florida Institute of Technology, the higher learning institution for pilots, nowadays shortened simply to Florida Tech. FIT, as we called the school back then, had a two-month Part 141 program to earn a private pilot’s license. It was sort of a basic training type of environment for people who wanted careers as pilots. Our routine generally consisted of ground school in the morning and flying in the afternoon and evenings. Most of us had airline aspirations–all of us just loved to fly.

I grew up in an aviation family but hadn’t focused on learning the details of flying until that point. Operating a small airplane and being comfortable in the air was second nature, but, man, those early morning classes about regulations and weather were sometimes tough to get excited about. Our small class of around 30 kids also included an older guy making a career change (he was probably 35 years old). Most of us lived on the same floor of a 9-floor dormitory. I remember clearly one night noticing that a few in our class had gathered in the old guy’s dorm room, so I checked out what they were doing. There was Martha King on TV going over Part 91 regulations in an easy-to-understand and lighthearted way that seemed really refreshing. And the graphics they used in their bulky VHS-taped presentations brought to life the stuff we had learned about in class that morning.

Now, not only could we reinforce what we learned that day, but we could also prepare to train the trainer the next day. I’m sure our ground instructor loved that we all wanted to test him every morning. Little did he know that a few of us had John and Martha explaining all the little nuances of private pilotology (new word) in excruciating and fun detail every night.

There are a few things in life that my generation has as constants that haven’t really changed much over our span of time on Earth–Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, Saturday Night Live–add to that list for us pilots John and Martha King. They’ve been there the whole time, and it’s nice to know they’re still there, still innovating, still making it interesting and exciting. Still bringing a lighthearted and fun aspect to the occasional drudgery. John and Martha have no idea who I am, but I still go back to them for refreshers. This time, though, it’s via an app or online. I am glad the VHS tape is no longer with us.

“2024 marks 50 years since John and Martha began what has turned into a lifelong passion and an exceedingly successful business,” Barry Knuttila, King Schools CEO, said. “Not only have they helped millions of pilots achieve their training goals, but they also guided the company and the curriculum through countless regulatory changes and technology transformations.”

“It’s humbling to see that our little idea has turned into something so successful and enduring,” Martha King said. “We love to hear from pilots across the country and around the world who have used our courses to learn something new and pursue fulfilling aviation careers. That’s what keeps us going.”

John and Martha got their start traveling to far-flung cities and towns to conduct in-person ground school courses for aspiring private pilots. Today, King Schools is the world’s premier supplier of print, video and computer-based instructional materials covering every aspect of flight training and safety, both for written test preparation and guidance in practical flight operations. More than half of all pilots in the United States have used one or more King Schools courses as part of their aviation training.

The secret to King Schools’ longevity?
“When we paired up, we decided to be equal partners in everything we would do,” John says. “In 1974, that was probably a little unconventional or even revolutionary. But ever since then, I have been struggling to be an equal partner to Martha. When it was apparent that Martha and I were serious about each other, Martha’s father told me that Martha was the most stubborn person he had ever known. I said, “I already know that.” I didn’t take it as stubbornness but determination. I wanted to take full advantage of that, and as a result, the business has thrived. Fifty years later, our partnership is still pretty unique, and that has been the key to our success.”

King Schools has launched a year of celebration to mark the half-century milestone. The celebration will include events, appearances, and speeches, as well as special offers on King Schools courses and curricula. The website and King Schools’ social media sites will be regularly updated with details.

“In 2024, John’s sideburns are long gone, but John and Martha King are still educating pilots with insights gained during a lifetime of learning and experience, delivered in their signature style with candor and humor,” CEO Knuttila said. “We’re not letting them retire quite yet – so watch this space to see what they’ll be up to during King Schools’ next 50 years.”

Let’s all celebrate this milestone with the Kings.

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