About Epic Flight Academy

Learn About Epic Flight Academy

Brief Background

Epic Flight Academy is located in New Smyrna Beach, Florida. Established in 1999 by CEO Danny Perna, Epic offers Part 141 pilot training and Part 147 aircraft mechanic training. Epic has trained thousands of pilots now flying for 300+ airlines. Epic’s Airline Direct Program takes flight students from zero experience to the airlines in 10 months. The aircraft mechanic program takes approximately 14 to 18 months. Epic employs 115 people and trains hundreds of students each year. Epic’s fleet includes all new glass cockpit aircraft and simulators. Epic Flight Academy maintains hiring partnerships with numerous airlines and aviation companies.

Our History

Epic Grounds and Directions

Established in 1999, Epic Flight Academy opened its doors as Epic Aviation. Initially, Epic offered both FAA pilot training and FBO services. However, in 2002, CEO Danny Perna shifted the focus solely to flight training. Epic maintains consistent growth through an innovative approach to the aviation market. For example, in 2005, Epic was one of the first flight schools to offer standardized glass-cockpit aircraft. As a result, students can train instrumentation similar to the technology used by the airlines. Therefore, Epic takes students from zero experience to airline pilot in as few as two years – a year to train, and a year to build time as a flight instructor.

Growth at Epic

In order to expand its worldwide network of safe, talented pilots, Epic’s flight school developed an expedited Professional Pilot Pathway. As a result, this minimized both course cost and time for aspiring airline pilots. As a result, Epic received Cessna’s “Flight Training Excellence” award. Furthermore, Cessna recognized Epic as an authorized Cessna Service Center for high quality maintenance.

Epic has been the top choice for students from 80+ countries. They have trained to fly within every Civil Aviation Authority. Epic partners with a number of airlines to ensure our students make connections to achieve their career goals. For example, thousands of Epic aviators are serving 300+ airlines worldwide. Epic is frequently in the news for its innovative approach to flight training. Additionally, we maintain a growing fleet of new generation aircraft. We are proud of our achievements! We are even adding satellite locations, with one in Ocala and another in Tallahassee.

In 2020, we launched our Part 147 Aircraft Mechanic Program. We now train aviation maintenance technicians (AMTs) / Aircraft & Powerplant (A&P) mechanics in addition to training pilots. Epic continues to grow and expand as we train aviation professionals with a high level of expertise. We even offer field trips for schools and provide guest speakers to share their expertise.

Leadership Spotlight

Leadership at Epic Flight Academy

Epic employs more than 150 people. Here we spotlight a few staff members:

Executive Team

CEO Danny Perna – A third-generation aviator, Danny’s grandfather, Anthony Perna, began as a flight instructor in a B17. He completed his career as a Colonel in the US Air Force. Tony Perna, Danny’s father, worked directly and indirectly for Cessna for 35 years developing international aircraft sales. Danny and his wife Amy started Epic Aviation in 1999 with one Cessna 152. They have built the operation into an international full-service FBO, flight school, and aircraft mechanic school. Danny Perna is a unique business owner. He is not only the founder of the operation, he also holds an FAA Multi-Engine Commercial and CFI rating. Also, he is an Authorized Maintenance Inspector. To learn more, read Danny’s profile at the Florida Virtual Entrepreneur Center. Completing the executive team are COO Josh Rawlins and CFO Keith Bateman.

Flight Training Team

Mike Thompson became a flight instructor in 1979. He also holds an A&P certificate. Mike worked as a CFI and charter pilot. In 1980, He joined U.S. Coast Guard aviation where he was as an aircrew member for both fixed-wing and helicopter. He spent his off-duty time flight instructing. After 8 years of active duty, Mike taught A&P mechanics for the Wisconsin Technical College System, taught flying at the neighboring FBO, and completed a Master’s degree in education. Mike then worked as an instructional design consultant, developing technical curriculum for colleges, universities, businesses, and industry in the U.S. and abroad. He advanced to Dean, with a career that has centered on aviation and education. Mike’s book, Telling Is Not Teaching: The Flight Instructor’s Handbook, brings his years of experience as a flight instructor, mechanic, instructional designer, and college dean to the flight line.

Most importantly, Epic’s flight training team leaders include senior instructors and course leaders. In other words, they collaborate to provide the best flight training experience for our students.

Mechanic Training Team

Our FAA Part 147 school staff is highly trained and experienced. Josh Rawlins, COO and Aircraft Mechanic Program Director Josh Rawlins has been at Epic since 2003. He earned his A&P certificate as an apprentice at Epic and received inspection authorization. Josh soon became Epic’s lead mechanic and before long was the Director of Maintenance. He eventually became VP and then COO when he began the work of launching the Part 147 school, which took several years of hard work. Now Josh oversees the program he worked so hard to create. In 2022, he received the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) award in aviation maintenance.

Administrative Team

Dr. Cindy Lovell, Director of Education, holds a B.A. and M.A. from Stetson University and a Ph.D. from the University of Iowa. Areas of expertise include gifted education, ESOL, and Mark Twain. She has held tenured positions at Stetson University and Quincy University. Also, she served as Executive Director at the Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum and the Mark Twain House & Museum. Cindy learned to fly at Epic, so she is thrilled to work with flight students who are pursuing their passion here. Additionally, Cindy is the liaison for the Daytona State College Program and Polk State College. She also works with Epic’s flight instructors to assist with foreign students perfecting their aviation English. Epic’s dedicated and talented administrative team works behind the scenes in operations. Most importantly, they support students and their colleagues for an epic experience.

Mission Statement

Our mission is to provide exceptional training to aspiring aviation professionals through innovative technology and instruction in a safe and timely manner.

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