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About John and Martha King

John and Martha King
John and Martha King

We admit it…we are aviation addicts!

You may find it hard to believe that we’ve been flying together for nearly 44 years.  So do we, but I guess time flies when you fly through it.  We’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy a very broad swath of aviation.  We’ve flown gliders to blimps to jets—even weight-shift trikes and powered parachutes.  We’ve also met many special people along the way.  And through our company,, we’ve had the honor of helping hundreds of thousands of these folks become pilots and  reach their aviation dreams.  What an undeniable privilege!

So how did King Schools come about?

Well, we went broke in a business that we didn’t enjoy, of lubricating trucks.  We said to ourselves, “That hurt.  Let’s not do that again.”  So we decided to relax and indulge our love of flying for a while, by teaching pilots, until a serious business came along.  We spent years travelling to teach ground school courses that we set up in meeting rooms of hotels.  At first we used a blackboard.  Then we got “high tech” and moved to overhead projectors.

After about 10 years, we bought a video camera, so we could critique our own teaching performance.  What we discovered suprised us.  We were actually pretty good!  So we set up a studio in the third bedroom of our house and gradually started putting our courses on video and playing them on a giant projector for our classes.


Then we decided we might try selling these classroom videos to flight instructors around the country, so they could teach ground schools using our videos.

We got the idea of selling these videos to individual pilots when we went to the EAA airshow, at Oshkosh (this was before it was called AirVenture) and pilots, rather than instructors, kept buying them.

When we started putting ads in magazines the business grew quickly, and in the nearly 38 years since, we have delivered millions of courses to pilots in training.  Needless to say, we outgrew our spare bedroom.  Today, King Schools operates from a dedicated complex in San Diego, California, which includes a full video and software production facility.  By now, nearly every pilot has taken a KING course at some time.

When we were teaching the classroom courses, we were no big deal to students who would meet us somewhere after having taken our course.  But when our mugs showed up on video, all of a sudden folks started thinking we were big time—even though we are the same short, unfashionable people we have always been.  We’ve made a number of appearances on national TV due to our perceived aviation expertise.  Plus, we and King Schools were featured on CNN’s “Business Unusual.”  At one point Microsoft came to us and said, “Do you think you could do a video that would help keep people from crashing when they first use the Flight Simulator program?”  We said, “Yes, we think so.”  So we eventually had 17 videos on Microsoft Flight Simulator.  Now folks all around the world began to get excited when they saw us.  We can report that what they saw was still the short, unfashionable couple we have always been.

Although we each were high school valedictorians and graduated with distinction from Indiana University, we believe our real education has come from our life-long study of entrepreneurship—and from the “school of hard knocks.” It is pretty clear to us that we’ve learned as much from our failures as from our successes.

But we gave up our search for a “serious business” a long time ago.

Our Cause Celeb…

In our view, one of the greatest tragedies in flying today is the fact that the majority of General Aviation accidents that happen could have been avoided; usually the culprit is pilot error.  We’ve been champions for improving the risk management practices of General Aviation pilots, with the hope of reducing the accident rate.  In support of this, we travel quite a bit to speak to thousands of pilots each year on aviation safety. We also work closely with the FAA’s National Aviation Safety Program in producing safety videos.

But life is not all about work…

Through the years, our enthusiasm for flying has never waned. We fly our own Dassault Falcon 10 jet wherever we go, swapping captain and copilot duties on each leg. We have flown as pilots in every continent of the world except Antarctica.  We flew one trip completely around the world, via the length of Russia.

We set our own goals in aviation fairly high and have never regretted the personal investment we’ve made to achieve them.  Two of these achievements we are most proud of:

  • In September of 1994, we became the first and only couple to both hold every category and class of FAA rating on our pilot and instructor certificates.
  • Martha is the first and only woman to achieve this complete ratings sweep.

We remain active in many flight categories, regularly piloting jet and single-engine piston airplanes and helicopters. We have enjoyed periodically serving as back-up pilots for the Fujifilm blimp, and our airship adventures have been part of national television coverage on the Fox, ESPN, CBS, and USA networks.

Giving back…

Our great fortune is that life has allowed us to do what we love to do.  We make a great effort to give back to the community and have involved ourselves in many community endeavors.  For many years we both served on the Board of Directors of the San Diego Air and Space Museum and the Anne Morrow Lindbergh Foundation.  John was Chairman of the Board of the Lindbergh Foundation and we are now both on the Honorary Board.  Martha is currently the Chair of the Chancellor’s Community Advisory Board of of the University of California, San Diego.  Additionally, we volunteer time to speak to college classes on starting a small business.

Awards and Honors

  • 1996:  Named “Aviation Educators of the Year” by Professional Pilot Magazine.
  • 2001: Martha appointed by President Clinton to the First Flight Centennial Federal Advisory Board, promoting celebrations of the 100th anniversary of flight.
  • 2002: Inducted into the International Forest of Friendship, for contributions to aviation.  The International Forest of Friendship is located in Atchison, Kansas, hometown of Amelia Earhart.
  • 2003: Martha honored by a resolution of the California Assembly and a proclamation from the Governor of California in honor of having been chosen by EAA to fly the state flag to Kitty Hawk for the First Flight Centennial.
  • 2003: On Dec 16 at Kitty Hawk, Martha honored by the First Flight Centennial Commission as one of 100 Distinguished Aviation Heroes in the first century of flight. Among those honored with Martha were Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, Chuck Yeager, John Glenn, and Patty Wagstaff.
  • 2003: Martha named one of the “100 Most Influential Women in Aviation” by Women in Aviation International.
  • 2004: John received “Excellence in Pilot Training” award from the National Air Transportation Association (NATA).
  • 2004: John and Martha were each presented with “Master Air Pilot” awards in recognition of long service and consistently high standards by the Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators in a ceremony presided over by His Royal Highness The Prince Andrew, Duke of York, in the ancient Guildhall of London.
  • 2005: Martha awarded the prestigious Cliff Henderson Award for Achievement from the National Aeronautic Association (NAA). The award is presented annually to “a living individual or group whose vision, leadership, or skill has made a significant and lasting contribution to the promotion and advancement of aviation or space activity.” Previous Cliff Henderson Award recipients include Jimmy Doolittle, Roscoe Turner, General Curtis LeMay, Frank Borman, Scott Crossfield, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, and Ernest K. Gann.
  • 2007: Awared Paul Tissandier Diplomas by the Federation Aeronautique Internationale (FAI), based in Lausanne, Switzerland,  for serving the cause of general aviation through “their work, initiative, and devotion.”
  • 2008:  Jointly awarded the Forrest M. and Pamela Bird award by the Civil Aviation Medical Association (CAMA) for “…exceptional contributions to the safety of civil aviation as pilots and educators through exercising excellent judgment, logic and common sense in evaluation and training of civil pilots through the years.”
  • 2008:  Jointly received the Vision Award from Business & Commercial Aviation. The other Vision Award winners in 2008 were Michimasa Fujino, CEO of Honda Aircraft Co. and the driving force behind the HondaJet, and Paul Bowen, the inspirationally artistic aviation air-to-air photographer.
  • 2008: Each elected as Fellows of the Explorers Club in New York City, for their contributinos to the cause of exploring by making aviation accessible as a tool for exploration throughout the world.
  • 2008: Both awarded the prestigious Lowell Thomas Award by the Explorers Club, for work in making aviation accessible as a tool for exploration. The award is named for Explorers Club member Lowell Thomas, the journalist whose news reports introduced “Lawrence of Arabia”—T.E. Lawrence—to the Western public. It is given to honor men and women who have distinguished themselves in the field of exploration.
  • 2008:  Inducted as a couple into the International Aerospace Hall of Fame.
  • 2009:  John and Martha were jointly awarded the American Spirit Award by the National Business Aviation Association.  This award is presented in recognition of individuals within business aviation who exemplify the courage and pursuit of excellence and service to others that characterizes the men and women who created and nurtured the American aviation community.
  • 2010:  Martha inducted into the Fairborn (Ohio) Schools Hall of Honor, which recognizes the outstanding achievements of graduates of Fairborn Schools.
  • 2012:  John and Martha both named Living Legends of Aviation in an exciting evening in Beverly Hills sponsored by the Kiddie Hawk Air Academy, joining a short list of aviation luminaries including Bob Hoover, Clay Lacy, Harrison Ford, Morgan Freeman, Kurt Russell, Tom Cruise and “Sully” Sullenberger.
  • 2012:  John and Martha jointly awarded the IAOPA Service Award for Excellence in Aviation Safety and Pilot Training Education by the International Council of Aircraft Owner and Pilot Associations at the 26th World Assembly, Cape Town, South Africa.
  • 2012:  John and Martha jointly awarded the prestigious Frank G. Brewer Trophy for Aviation Education by the National Aeronautic Association (NAA) for their significant contributions of enduring value to aerospace education by making aviation knowledge more accessible to pilots worldwide.

Certificates and Ratings Held by both John and Martha King

  • Airline Transport Pilot
  • Commercial Privileges
    • Rotorcraft Gyroplane
    • Glider
    • Lighter Than Air
      • Airship
      • Free Balloon
  • Certificated Flight Instructor
    • Airplane Single & Multi-engine
    • Rotorcraft Helicopter and Gyroplane
    • Instrument Airplane and Helicopter
    • Glider
  • Ground Instructor
    • Advanced
    • Instrument



  1. Brian Halstead

    First of all, I know you probably get this alot, I have learned so much from your training videos. Flying has always been a passion for me. Time how ever, just like that, went by.. 56 years later… but what a journey it has been…I have traveled 5 Continents, been in a war. Did you ever want to go back and thank the people That you never met, We’re part of your journey.
    You taught me how to do a crosswind landing, I didn’t think that I would ever get it! But thank you all, and God bless you .for a great service.

  2. Tommie Chen

    I did not know a normal person wearing glasses could learn flying when I entered the America as an international student long time ago. Not mention I even told my professor that I wanted to study aerospace engineering (clearly that professor was not a pilot either 🙂 . So continuously I shut down my childhood dream until… last month. Yes, last month I was finally hit by a rock after so many years!

    Suddenly I became very hungry for flying. So I started to look at flight schools. Couple weeks later, I bought my first Flying magazine ever. I saw John and Martha’s ad from the magazine and immediately I went to their website to check out what they offer. I am hooked – they are passionate people about GA and courses offered are not only informative but clear and easy to follow for a non-native English speaker like myself (if I can laugh so can you). Well done!

  3. Pingback:John and Martha King, AOPA’s Craig Fuller, Share Lessons Learned From Detention Incident With Santa Barbara City Officials « King Schools News

  4. Richard Fischer

    John and Martha,

    A local pilot friend of mine on facebook posted a link today about your recent incident with the police, but after reading through your article on that subject, since I’m a long term pilot wanna be, I decided to learn a little bit more about you and what you do, and I must say that God has indeed blessed both of you with the ability to do what you love to do for a living, and to be so successful at it!

    For now, unfortunately, due to a floundering economy which has for some time adversely affected my work (I’m a carpenter by trade), and my wife BJ’s 4 plus years struggle with a terminal liver disease (she’s now in home hospice care and has been given 6 months to live), the only flying I do is with my computer’s x-plane 8 flight sim. Though I believe I’ve learned a great deal from my flight sim experience that should help me when my financial picture finally opens up to enable me to take the flight lessons I desire, my life’s “up in the air,” experience is not behind the controls of an airplane, but dealing with the every day reality of my wife’s failing health, praying daily for her miracle, while cleaning up the mess her failing systems are creating. You are indeed a blessed couple, and if you are ever in the Knoxville, TN area, if we could arrange at least a brief meeting (we live only about 2 miles from a little grass air strip known as Seymour Airpark, (TN20), in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains), that would be wonderful!

    God’s continued blessings to you and yours!
    Richard Fischer
    Miracle Share Network
    International Memorial for the Unborn

  5. Pingback:35 years of sharing our passion with pilots and having fun « John and Martha King – Life is good when it’s up in the air.

  6. Jeff Kubiak

    I have really enjoyed your courses and now have my commercial multi-engine instrument ratings. I fly my Mooney M20K and do it reasonably well but I would really like help with the autopilot (KFC200). It would really be helpful if you could put together a course on how to make the autopilot reach its full potential. Looking forward to your next course and my next rating.

    Jeff Kubiak

  7. David V. Jackson

    John and Martha: I just passed my instrument checkride after using your instrument course. I was able to take the instrument checkride in my own airplane (N4114J) after wiring and installing the radio package myself. (certified by A&P and radio shop) I passed my private pilot 15 years and 1400 hours ago using king private pilot and at that time I also used the king sample exams to become qualified to take the written. Everything I have done in the past 20 years has been using king videos and study materials. Thanks again John and Martha. I hear your voices in my head every day! Sincerely, David V. Jackson

  8. Deborah Healey

    Hey John & Martha, great blog! I use to work for you in the marketing department a few years ago. You are both amazing pilots and wonderful employers. God Bless, Deborah

  9. Ruben Miranda

    John and Martha, I cant wait to get my private pilot check rider over and done with, just so I could get started on working towards my instrument rating, I cant thank you enough for committing yourselves to making such training videos, so far they have been a great help. Thank you.

  10. Chris

    Hi John and Martha. I’m currently in training for a commercial license in Kansas. I wanted to say that I think I’ve seen almost all your videos already and found them indispensable and most relaxing way to learn! Thx

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